CLEVELAND (AP) — Jason Kipnis got his first four RBIs on two homers, and two more on a strange play.
“I’ll take it, though,” Kipnis said, smiling.
Maybe the Indians have finally found their groove.
Kipnis homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs as Cleveland showed more signs of busting out at the plate by hammering the Baltimore Orioles 14-7 in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.
Kipnis hit a solo shot in the first inning, a three-run homer in the fourth off reliever Gabriel Ynoa (0-1) and was credited with two RBIs on an unusual fielder’s choice in a five-run seventh when his grounder never left the infield.
Following a pregame meeting called by manager Terry Francona, the Indians were down 5-1 before rallying, falling behind and then taking the lead for good on Carlos Santana’s hard-smash RBI single in the sixth.
The Indians, who have struggled to score, broke it open with a five-run seventh.
“I thought we played with some personality tonight,” Francona said. “We got down early and instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, they kept fighting and good things happened. We ran the bases really well. We were aggressive.”
Trey Mancini hit a three-run homer and Rio Ruiz had a two-run drive for Baltimore, which has lost seven of eight. The Orioles dropped three games in 24 hours after being swept in a doubleheader by the Yankees on Wednesday.
“We let them hang around and kind of lost control of the game as it went on,” Mancini said. “Not one of our better games overall. Probably one of our worst.”
A.J. Cole (1-1) replaced starter Trevor Bauer in the sixth and picked up his first win for the Indians, whose bats have finally awakened the past two games. They followed up a 9-0 win at Chicago on Tuesday with their most hits and runs in 2019 to successfully open an 11-game homestand.
“We knew we weren’t going to play that way that we did at the beginning of the season the whole time,” said Kipnis, who began the season on the injured list with a calf strain. “Things are about to turn. Numbers always average out a little bit. But we knew that we can’t wait for them to come. You’ve got to kind of play the game hard and the right way.
“We had a nice little meeting today that kind of refocused us from Tito (Francona) and he just said, ‘Hey, you might not be able to control always the results, but let’s control our hustle. Let’s control doing the little things,’ and I thought it paid dividends real fast for us today.”
Cleveland tacked on five in the seventh, with Kipnis’ high-hopper to second scoring two when the Orioles failed to record an out on what could have been an inning-ending double play.
Second baseman Hanser Alberto fielded Kipnis’ ball, but he didn’t tag Francisco Lindor and then threw too late to first to get Kipnis.
The indecision summed up Baltimore’s night.
“It was a couple of odd plays,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “They had some breaks and we didn’t. That made it an unreachable game.”
Bauer has given up at least seven runs in two of his past three outings. He’s got a 6.17 ERA in home starts, and 2.40 on the road.
“I’ve got to be better,” he said. “My teammates, the organization, the fans depend on me to go out there and be better than I am right now, and I need to live up those expectations.”
On a positive note, Bauer notched his 1,000th career strikeout.
The Orioles’ bullpen has allowed a major league-leading 121 runs.
After starter Dan Straily was chased, Baltimore’s relievers gave up 10 runs, eight hits and six walks in 4 2/3 innings.
“You can’t win in this league unless you’re putting up zeros out of your ’pen,” Hyde said. “We have to do a better job of pitching overall. It wasn’t our night on the mound.”
Orioles: LHP Richard Bleier (shoulder tendinitis) was activated from the 10-day injured list and appeared in the seventh. He had 14.54 ERA before being placed on the IL on April 11.
Indians: An MRI revealed more than a left calf strain for OF Tyler Naquin, who can’t do baseball activities for two weeks. Naquin, placed on the injured list Tuesday, has some swelling behind his knee. “He’s a tough kid who was probably playing through something he shouldn’t have,” Francona said. ... RHP Danny Salazar has resumed throwing side sessions in Arizona after receiving a cortisone shot in his shoulder.
Orioles: RHP Dylan Bundy (1-5, 5.31 ERA) has allowed 11 home runs this season after giving up an AL-high 41 in 2018.
Indians: RHP Jefry Rodriguez (1-2, 2.92 ERA) will try to make it two straight wins after getting his first with Cleveland last week in Baltimore. Rodriguez made his first career start against the Orioles in 2018 for Washington.