Clifford Ray Williams/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BALTIMORE — Don’t look now, but everyone in Major League Baseball is looking up at the Cleveland Guardians. And for every punch that they took on Wednesday night, the Guardians came back with haymaker after haymaker to win a slugfest against a team well-suited in slugging the home run ball.

José Ramírez continued to haunt Orioles pitching as he blasted a three-run home run as part of a five-run fourth inning, leading the Guardians to a 10-8 victory over the Baltimore Orioles inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards to take the first two games in the series. Bo Naylor and Gabriel Arias, the seventh and eighth hitters in the lineup, each had three hits and combined to score four runs and drive in four as the victory now sees Cleveland own the best record in baseball at 51-26.

Seven of the first eight half-innings of the game saw at least one run being scored, and even after the Guardians’ five-run fourth gave them separation at 8-4, the Orioles answered with back-to-back home runs from James McCann and Colton Cowser to begin the bottom of the inning to draw Baltimore closer.

Pedro Avila came on in relief of Guardians starter Logan Allen, who allowed those six runs, and came through by not allowing a hit in his 2 1/3 innings of work on his way to get the win. After the Orioles cut the deficit to 8-7 in the seventh, the Guardians responded by scoring two in the eighth inning of normally-reliable set-up man Yennier Cano, highlighted by Bo Naylor’s one-out run-scoring triple to center field. Arias followed with a single to right to push the lead to three.

Emmanuel Clase, who was given the night off on Monday after pitching in four of the five days prior, came on in the ninth to nail down his 25th save.

“The resilience of this team. I couldn’t be more proud of our guys, top to bottom,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “ … I can’t say enough about the way our pitching staff has picked us up all year, and then tonight for our offense to put up a two spot on Cano, that’s one of the best relievers in this league. Bo Naylor swinging the bat and Gabby Arias swinging the bat, José being José, just up and down the lineup. … Everybody contributed tonight.”

Baltimore has now lost five in a row, its longest losing streak since dropping six from May 13-18, 2022, before star catcher Adley Rutschman was first called up to the Major Leagues. The Orioles’ pitching depth has been decimated over the past month, as three different pitchers — Kyle Bradish, John Means, Tyler Wells — were ruled out for the season with UCL injuries and underwent Tommy John surgery, and the starting rotation has become a major concern. Cole Irvin allowed 10 hits and eight runs (though only four of the runs were earned) in his four innings of work.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with photos taken by DC-area photographer Clifford Ray Williams. After clicking on a photo to enlarge the picture, press the left and right arrow buttons on either side of the caption to scroll through the rest of the pictures that appear on the first page, Also, click on the numbers and/or arrow appearing immediately below the picture grid to load the next set of photos. There are 27 pictures in total.

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