BALTIMORE -- This was not how the Indians wanted to end their road trip. In fact, as the Orioles' players poured onto the field to celebrate a walk-off win at Camden Yards on Sunday afternoon, the only good news for Cleveland was that the road trip was finally, and mercifully, over.
Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold put the period on the Tribe's three-city swing through Minneapolis, Kansas City and Baltimore with a deep drive against closer Cody Allen. Reimold's pinch-hit, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth sent Cleveland to a 5-3 loss, giving the club a 4-5 record over its 10-day journey out of the All-Star break.
The Indians took two of three against both the Twins and Royals, averaging six runs per game in the six games before this weekend set in Baltimore. But the Orioles' pitching staff, especially the team's rotation, had an effective plan against Cleveland's. The Indians' bats cooled off in the Inner Harbor's sweltering heat, producing only six total runs in the three-game brooming by the American League East-leading Birds.
Baltimore right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman set the tone on Friday and Saturday, respectively, feeding Cleveland's hitters a heavy dose of changeups in early-count situations. In the finale on Sunday, it was Vance Worley's turn to have his way with the tired Tribe. In seven strong innings, the righty turned to his changeup and curve more often than usual, given Cleveland's knack for hitting the hard stuff.
Overall, Baltimore's rotation turned in a 0.95 ERA in 19 innings against the Indians this weekend.
"They executed very well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Whatever their game plan was, they followed it and executed it very well."
The lack off offense by the Indians eventually led to Allen pitching with no room for error.
"You can't put it all on Cody," Kipnis said. "We had a lot of opportunities to get in runs and we didn't do it."
Kipnis felt that the Tribe displayed more fight in this loss, in which the lineup rallied for two runs in the fourth and one more to tie the game in the eighth. One night earlier, the second baseman said he did not think the team played with enough energy. Near triple-digit temperatures for six straight games through Kansas City and Baltimore can do that to any team.
"We came with more energy today," Kipnis said. "It showed. It was a closer ballgame -- more of what we expect of how we should be playing. We put up a battle there."
Unfortunately, that can only be chalked up as a moral victory.
The good news is that the Indians remain in first place in the AL Central with a comfortable cushion. And, following a stretch of 29 road games in a 42-game stretch, Cleveland gets to return home to Progressive Field for 20 of the next 25 contests. The Indians are 26-16 at home, including 14 wins in the past 18 games.
The Indians are definitely happy to be heading back to Ohio.
"Yeah," Allen agreed. "We had a chance here to kind of extend that game and hopefully win it against a good team in their ballpark. But unfortunately we couldn't do that."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.