BALTIMORE—The Orioles had been held to just one hit in six innings against three Cleveland Indians pitchers. Then, Ryan Mountcastle turned the game around with a two-run home run, and the Orioles had their third straight win.
Mountcastle’s home run, his seventh this season and third in the last four games, provided the difference in the Orioles’ 3-1 win over Cleveland before 12,009 at Oriole Park on Friday night.
Bryan Shaw (1-1), the fourth Cleveland pitcher, walked Anthony Santander to begin the seventh. Freddy Galvis hit into a force play, and Mountcastle hit a long fly ball to left that Indians leftfielder Eddie Rosario jumped at the wall to catch, but couldn’t.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona requested a crew chief review because he was convinced fans interfered with Rosario as he tried for the catch.
“I couldn’t really tell,” Mountcastle said. “I watched the replay, and I was pretty sure they were going to keep it a home run, but you never know.”
After a lengthy review, the call stood, and so did the lead.
Mountcastle had just one home run in the Orioles’ first 30 games, and this week, his stroke looks different.
“I’ve been working in the cage, working on some stuff,” Mountcastle said. “Trying not to do too much. It’s early, still. Just trying to get some confidence up there.”
Cole Sulser (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win. Tanner Scott struck out the side in the eighth, and Paul Fry pitched the ninth for his second save.
In the eighth, Pedro Severino, Cedric Mullins and Trey Mancini began the inning with singles against Nick Wittgren. Severino scored on Santander’s sacrifice fly to left.
The Orioles (20-37) have their third three-game winning streak of the season, the first since April 29-May 1, but they have a long way to go to erase the stretch in which they lost 14 straight and 21 of 23.
Manager Brandon Hyde wanted to get a quick look at Hunter Harvey, who made his season debut after being added to the roster on Friday. But first, Keegan Akin threw five shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk, striking out five while throwing 86 pitches.
“Staying with the game plan of attacking with the fastball,” Akin said. “Usually I would say, changeup, but that was nonexistent tonight. The slider came up big tonight, and that seemed to be my offspeed pitch I had, and I could throw it in any count whenever I wanted it to.”
Akin began the spring hoping he’d be in the rotation to begin the season after pitching well in 2020. But a string of bad starts brought disappointment.
“Obviously, spring training was awful in my eyes, and I think everybody else’s eyes as well,” Akin said. “It’s a little bit extra motivation when I got sent down to go down there and work my butt off and get back up here. That was my goal, to be in the rotation, and here I am, take it day-by-day and outing-by-outing, and here I am.”
Harvey, who hadn’t pitched until Friday because of a strained left oblique, allowed a single up the middle by José Ramirez with one out in the sixth. Harold Ramirez drove him in with a triple. Harvey avoided further damage with a grounder by first by Eddie Rosario, and a strikeout of Owen Miller on a 98-mph fastball.
“It was fun to watch him,” Hyde said. “I know he gave up a run, but he showed really good stuff. Upper-90s fastball with hop. He threw a nice curveball in there, a nice slider … It was nice to get his feet wet tonight.”
The Orioles had just one hit against Cleveland (30-25) starter J. C. Mejia, who pitched three innings, a one-out double by DJ Stewart in the second. Phil Maton pitched two perfect innings, and Nick Sandlin a spotless sixth, and then came the decisive seventh.
Notes: The crowd was the largest of the season. … Harvey was the 39th player used by the Orioles in their 57th game.
Minor Matters: Infielder Jordan Westburg, who was promoted this week from Low-A Delmarva to High-A Aberdeen was named the organization’s Offensive Player of the Month for May. Westburg, who was the 30th overall pick in last June’s draft hit .366 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in May. … Right-handed pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, who moved from Aberdeen to Double-A Bowie, is the Orioles’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month. He was 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts for May. … Bowie won its eighth straight game, beating Hartford 6-2. The Baysox are 21-5 and their .806 winning percentage is the best in the minors. … Norfolk’s game against Durham was postponed a night after Bulls pitcher Tyler Zombro was hit in the head by a batted ball from the Tides’ Brett Cumberland. … Delmarva pitchers struck out a season-high 19 batters in a 5-2 loss to Fredericksburg. … Jahmai Jones was 2-for-2 in his first rehab game for Aberdeen as the IronBirds beat Hickory, 4-3. Jones, the second baseman the Orioles obtained from the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Alex Cobb, has been out because of an oblique injury.