CLEVELAND — When Trey Mancini golfed a knee-high change-up just over the left field wall for a home run in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians, it was the first hit for either side.
That it was the Orioles’ only hit goes a long way to explaining their 4-1 loss at Progressive Field, with breakout starter John Means not at his best but keeping his team close enough for a comeback that simply never came against Cleveland’s Adam Plutko and a shutdown bullpen.
“I just thought the guy threw a really good game,” Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought he pitched outstanding, and we just had a tough time getting it going off him. He mixed pitches really well and was throwing on the corners and didn’t give us a whole lot of balls to drive. I think you tip your hat sometimes. The guy was great.”
The last time the Orioles (15-30) were held to just one hit was Sept. 12, 2018, in a 10-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Their previous season low was three hits April 17 against the Tampa Bay Rays, though this was a game Saturday in which it looked just as likely that both sides would be having the same problem.
Both Means (5-4) and Plutko (1-0) turned over the opposing lineup without allowing a hit before hitting bumps in the fourth inning. Mancini’s home run came with two outs to put the Orioles ahead 1-0 and was a missile that to Hyde illustrates what Mancini does at his best.
“When he’s right, he really stays on the ball,” Hyde said. “Not looking to pull but pull because the ball shows up on the inner part of the plate and he catches it out in front.”
Plutko’s mistake was covered for quickly when Means also hit a rough patch in the fourth. Carlos Santana broke up his no-hit bid with a double off the center field wall that center fielder Stevie Wilkerson got a bad read on. Four pitches later, Means hung a curveball to cleanup hitter Jordan Luplow for a two-run home run.
Rookie Oscar Mercado’s first big league hit was a double in the fifth, and he scored on a single by Francisco Lindor to extend Cleveland’s lead to 3-1.