Orioles fight back, tie the Royals at 5-5 after six innings

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Update: The Orioles tied it in the sixth after Jonathan Schoop reached on a walk and Nick Markakis logged his third hit of the night with a single to right-center. Schoop stole third and Markakis advanced to second on an errant throw that glanced off of Schoop. Alejandro De Aza brought in Schoop for the tying run when he blooped a hit just behind the pitcher’s mound, out of the reach of a diving Alcides Escobar. We’re tied at five apiece going into the seventh.

Game 1 of the ALCS wasn’t going very well for the Orioles. The Royals jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning. The Orioles took a run back in the bottom half of the inning, but it was only the start of an arduous journey back to even footing. Even worse, starter Chris Tillman couldn’t even make it out of the fifth inning, as manager Buck Showalter called on Tommy Hunter to get the final two outs of the frame.

But you can never count out the Orioles’ powerhouse offense. As quickly as the Orioles fell down, they picked themselves back up. The Orioles’ first two batters in the bottom of the fifth singled. After Adam Jones grounded out to third base for the first out of the inning, Nelson Cruz ripped an RBI double off of the fence in left field. Steve Pearce then walked to load the bases for J.J. Hardy. Hardy worked the count full, then took a slider on the inside corner that was called for strike three by home plate umpire Tim Timmons.

Royals starter James Shields saw light at the end of the tunnel, a way to escape the jam having given up just the one run. But Ryan Flaherty wouldn’t let him off the hook that easy. Flaherty ripped a single to right field, scoring Jones and Cruz to cut the deficit to one run. Shields got Nick Hundley to line out to second base to end the inning. It’s a one-run game as we enter the latter half of the ballgame.

Cruz continues his run of success in the post-season. Entering Friday night’s game, Cruz carried a .297/.349/.710 slash line with 16 home runs and 32 RBI in 149 post-season plate appearances. As if he needed to do anything else to assure himself a payday when he heads into free agency following the conclusion of the playoffs.

Indians send down Clevinger, Plesac after virus blunder

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND — After hearing Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac explain their actions, the Cleveland Indians sent the pitchers to their alternate training site on Friday after the two broke team rules and Major League Baseball coronavirus protocol last weekend in Chicago.

Clevinger and Plesac drove to Detroit separately with their baseball equipment on Thursday for an “open forum” meeting at the team’s hotel before the Indians opened a series with the Tigers.

Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said following “the discussion” that he met with manager Terry Francona, general manager Mike Chernoff and decided it was best to option Plesac and Clevinger to the alternate training site instead of allowing them to rejoin the team.

“We had a chance to meet as small group and decided this would be the best path of action for us,” Antonetti said.

So before the opener, the Indians activated Clevinger and Plesac from the restricted list and optioned them to Lake County.

It’s a stunning slide for the right-handers and close friends, both considered important pieces for the Indians. There’s no indication when they may be back on Cleveland’s roster. They’ll have to be at Lake County for at least 10 days.

Last weekend, the pitchers broke the team’s code of conduct implemented during the pandemic by leaving the team hotel and having dinner and socializing with friends of Plesac’s and risking contracting the virus.

While the Indians got a car service to take Plesac back to Cleveland, Clevinger flew home with the team after not telling the Indians he had been out with his teammate.

Although both players have twice tested negative for COVID-19 this week, the Indians aren’t ready to have them back.

Earlier this week, pitcher Adam Plutko said he felt betrayed.

“They hurt us bad,” Plutko said after Cleveland’s lost 7-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. “They lied to us. They sat here in front of you guys and publicly said things that they didn’t follow through on.”

Antonetti was asked if there are still hard feeling in the clubhouse toward the pair.

“We’re all a family,” Antonetti said. “We spend a lot of time together. Sometimes there are challenges in families you have to work through. I’d use that analogy as it applies here. There are things that have happened over the course of the last week that have been less than ideal and people have some thoughts and feelings about that.”

Both Clevinger and Plesac issued apologies in the days after their missteps. However, on Thursday, the 25-year-old Plesac posted a six-minute video on Instagram in which he acknowledged breaking team curfew but then aimed blame at the media, saying he and Clevinger were being inaccurately portrayed as “bad people.”

Antonetti said he watched the video.

“I’m not sure Zach was able to convey what he intended to convey in the video after having a chance to speak with him afterwards,” he said. “I think if he had a do-over, he may have said things a bit differently.”

Francona also felt Plesac could have chosen a better way to handle the aftermath.

“I was disappointed,” he said.