Missing Fans and Missing Offense Makes For a Quiet Defeat; Athletics 3, Indians 0
By Mike Brandyberry
Twelve hours of rain in Cleveland on Monday chased all the fans away from Progressive Field. It seemed to wash away the Indian offense, too.
Roberto Hernandez (0-3) did not survive the third inning with an injured ankle, and possibly a damaged psyche while Brett Anderson (2-0) carved the Tribe up. Anderson allowed only two hits over seven innings, despite only one of the hits being earned without the help of an umpire. All of the excitement was in front of an announced attendance of 13,018–many of those must have been in the bathroom most of the night because the television camera failed to capture the robust announced crowd. A single tally in each of the first three innings was all the offense Oakland needed for a 3-0 victory.
Oakland took the early lead in the top of the first inning when after Hernandez had retired an out, Stephen Drew singled to right field. Yoenis Cespedes battled Hernandez in a 13-pitch at bats, including eight straight foul balls, before hitting a laser off the left field wall for a double. The ball was hit so hard Drew could only advance to third base. However, Seth Smith hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield deep enough to score Drew and give the Athletics a 1-0 lead.
The Athletics tacked on another run in the top of the second when Josh Reddick led off the inning with a solo home run to right field to extend the lead to 2-0. His 26th home run of the season came on an 0-2 pitch from Hernandez.
Things went from bad to worse in the top of the third inning when with one out Drew walked and Cespedes doubled this time to deep right field to put runners on second and third. With the infield in, Hernandez pitched to Smith but had to be removed from the game with a sprained right ankle.
Hernandez called catcher Lou Marson to the mound and when Manager Manny Acta reached the hill, Hernandez was removed. Hernandez left after only two and one-third innings, allowing four hits and three runs on 68 pitches.
Chris Seddon relieved Hernandez and got Smith to line out to Jason Kipnis on the first pitch for the second out. However, Chris Carter squired a base hit by the diving Brent Lillibridge at shortstop to plate another run and make the game 3-0 Oakland after three innings.
Meanwhile Anderson cruised through the Indians’ lineup. He was perfect through four and one-third innings, only allowing one ball out of the infield, before first base umpire Jerry Meals botched a call at the bag on a swinging bunt by Michael Brantley. Replays clearly showed Anderson flipped the ball to second baseman Cliff Pennington at the base in time to beat Brantley to the bag in a close play. Shelley Duncan grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Indians earned a base hit all by themselves in the sixth inning when Lillibridge doubled into the left centerfield gap to lead off the inning. After Matt LaPorta struck out, Marson hit a liner to left field that was caught for the second out of the inning. Kipnis walked to put runners on first and second base with two outs, but Jason Donald grounded into a fielder’s choice to extinguish any thoughts of a rally.
Despite the lack of run support, Seddon did a fantastic job of long relief in replacing Hernandez. The shaggy left-hander threw four and two-third innings, allowing only two hits and a walk, while striking out one. He may have pitched his way back into the starting rotation if Hernandez is forced to the disabled list.
Cleveland had another ill-fated rally attempt in the seventh inning when Santana walked with one out in the inning. Brantley grounded to second and instead of getting the sure out at first base, Pennington tried to turn two, but threw wide of the bag leaving everyone safe. But, Duncan struck out swinging and Lillibridge lined out to right field to end another scoring opportunity.
Anderson left after seven strong innings, allowing only two hits and two walks, while striking out five on 95 pitches. Tonight was only his second start of the season, returning from Tommy John surgery.
Cody Allen worked the final two innings in a nice rebound from his outing on Friday when he allowed a home run to Nick Swisher. Ryan Cook worked a scoreless eighth inning and Grant Balfour earned his 15th save of the season.
The loss is Cleveland’s 24th defeat in their last 29 games. Much of the streak was clouded with poor starting pitching, but now that the arms seem to have found themselves, the offense has headed south. The Tribe recorded only two hits on the evening, with one needing the aid of a bad call from Meals. Cleveland has only scored six runs over their last 36 innings since returning home.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images