CLEVELAND (AP) — Adam Plutko’s season debut for Cleveland couldn’t have gone much better.
Called up from Triple-A Columbus before the game, Plutko allowed one run in six innings — a solo homer by Trey Mancini for Baltimore’s only hit — and the Indians defeated the Orioles 4-1 on Saturday.
Plutko was optioned to the minors at the end of spring training and didn’t pitch in April because of a strained right forearm. He made two starts in Columbus before being rejoining the Indians.
“It’s always exciting to be out there on a major league mound, whether it’s your first time back in a while or your 12th consecutive game out there,” Plutko said.
Plutko gave up the home run to Mancini with two outs in the fourth. The right-hander struck out four, walked two and was pulled after throwing 83 pitches.
“He knows how to pitch,” Mancini said. “I’ve been facing him since we were in college in 2013. It was especially impressive, being his first game off the DL.”
Plutko was 4-5 in 17 appearances with the Indians last season and will be counted on to help Cleveland’s injury-depleted rotation.
“I do feel like I belong here, but at the end of the day it’s one outing,” he said. “If you’re a starter in the big leagues you need to be good 34 times (a season), not just one.”
Corey Kluber broke his right arm after being hit by a line drive in April and will be re-evaluated later this month while Mike Clevinger strained an upper back muscle in the second week of the season.
Cleveland used three relievers to finish it. Oliver Perez struck out three of the four hitters he faced. Adam Cimber retired a batter in the eighth, but a fielding error by third baseman Jose Ramirez and a walk put two runners on.
Brad Hand struck out Jonathan Villar to end the inning and worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 12 chances.
Baltimore managed four baserunners on three walks and Ramirez’s error.
Jordan Luplow and Carlos Santana homered for Cleveland, extending Baltimore’s major-league-leading total of home runs allowed to 93.
Luplow hit a two-run homer in the fourth off John Means (5-4). The blast followed Santana’s double for Cleveland’s first hit. Luplow, batting cleanup for the second time this season, has five home runs — all since May 9.
Santana hit a leadoff homer in the eighth off Miguel Castro.
Mancini drove a 1-0 pitch to the porch in left field for his team-leading 10th home run of the season and second in the series.
The Indians were batting .223 at gametime and were held to three hits by Baltimore on Friday in a 5-1 loss. Cleveland rolled to a 14-7 win in the series opener Thursday and scored nine runs against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
Outfielder Oscar Mercado, called up from Columbus on Wednesday, doubled in the fifth for his first major league hit. The rookie will give the baseball to his parents, who attended the game.
“The first thing I did was look over to where they were sitting,” Mercado said. “They were cheering pretty loud. You could tell they were excited.”
Mercado said he used one of Jose Ramirez’s bats to get the hit. Ramirez, who has struggled all season and is batting .193, singled in the eighth.
Mercado’s teammates gave him a shower consisting of various liquids following the game. Veteran reliever Tyler Clippard was also doused after officially reaching 10 seasons in the majors Saturday.
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Means retired nine of the first 10 hitters before running into trouble in the fourth. The rookie left-hander, who allowed three runs and five hits in five innings, won four of his previous five starts.
“My fastball felt good,” Means said. “I just didn’t have my secondary pitches today. I was nibbling and they weren’t swinging at bad pitches. That was really frustrating.”
Orioles: RHP Yefry Ramirez (0-1, 5.14 ERA) moves into the rotation after making his first three 2019 appearances in relief.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (2-2, 3.81 ERA) seeks his first home win of the year. He is 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA in four starts at Progressive Field.
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