The Cleveland Guardians matched a season-high in runs and hits as they outlasted the Baltimore Orioles, 12-8, in today's back-and-forth rubber-match. It was the second time this season scoring double-digits, but the first time in a nine-inning game. They prevailed in a shootout with 20 runs and 29 hits, five lead changes, and seven straight half-innings of scoring.
The Guardians jumped ahead in the first inning after Steven Kwan hit a lead off single, one of his three of the game, and scored when Jose Ramirez roped a down the left field line, the first of two of the game, and 15th this season.
Meanwhile, Shane Bieber cruised early by retiring the first five batters, but with two outs in the second inning the next six Orioles batters reached base as Baltimore took their lead. First, Aaron Hicks and Ryan O'Hearn each walked on full counts, then Hicks scored on Jorge Mateo's RBI double. Ryan McKenna drove in O'Hearn and Mateo with a single, then crossed the plate on the first of Adley Rutschman's four base hits, putting the Orioles up 4-1.
The Guardians cut the Orioles' lead in the third inning starting with a pair of one-out hits - Jose Ramirez singled then Josh Naylor doubled to both reach scoring position. A few batters later, they scored on Andres Gimenez's two-out single, briefly bringing the Guardians within one run at 4-3, but the Orioles struck again with two outs in the home half. Aaron Hicks drew a lead-off walk for the second straight inning, then scored on Ryan O'Hearn's double to double the lead to 5-3, but this was short-lived.
In the fourth, Steven Kwan swatted a lead-off single to center, then with two outs Josh Naylor and Josh Bell belted back-to-back home runs, helping the Guardians retake the lead, 6-5. However, for the third consecutive inning, the Orioles battled back with two outs. Adley Rutschman singled then scored on Anthony Santander's ninth home run of the season, putting the Orioles in front, 7-6, for the final time today.
The Guardians' bats exploded in the fifth, starting with the first three batters loading the bases: Cam Gallagher doubled, Steven Kwan singled, and Amed Rosario walked. Then, after Jose Ramirez struck out, Josh Naylor crushed his second double of the game to the center field warning track, driving in all three runners, and giving the Guardians a 9-7 lead. Josh Bell struck out, but Gabriel Arias launched his fourth home run to center field, doubling the Guardians' lead to 11-7.
The Guardians' bullpen took over in the fifth after Shane Bieber completed his shortest outing this season. Reliever Xzavion Curry entered and allowed minimal damage as Orioles' Gunnar Henderson walked, reached third on Aaron Hicks' single, and scored Ryan O'Hearn's ground out, but the Orioles would not get any closer. Neither team scored in the sixth, but the Guardians added an insurance run in the seventh. Jose Ramirez hit a one-out double, then scored on Josh Naylor's single to left field, the latter's game-high sixth RBI, putting the Guardians up 12-8.
The Guardians' bullpen dominated across the final four innings as Sam Hentges, Enyel De Los Santos, Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase each allowed one or fewer hits while shutting out the Orioles' lineup, as well as preserving the Guardians' lead and eventual four-run victory. Xzavion Curry took his second win while Hentges notched his fifth hold.
The Guardians finish May with two straight series wins after taking two of three games against the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend. They accomplish this feat for just the second time this season after opening the season with consecutive series wins over the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics.
Tomorrow the Guardians kick off June with a four-game road series against the division leading-Minnesota Twins - first pitch at 7:40 PM. The Guardians won two of three games against the Twins in their first meeting in Cleveland. Tanner Bibee will make his seventh career start after striking out nine batters in his previous outing in a 2-1 win over the Cardinals. Pablo Lopez will start for the Twins after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in his last start.