Indians Squander Early Opportunities, Drop Second Game in a Row; Rays 4, Indians 0
Steve Eby | On 05, Apr 2013
I guess the Indians used up all of their offense Thursday night.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore along with the Rays bullpen stymied Tribe bats all night en route to a 4-0 shutout of Cleveland on Friday night. The only offense for the Indians was two early hits for Michael Bourn, and then a couple of walks here and there. Rays pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts on the evening.
Zach McAllister got the start for the now 2-2 Tribe and had previous success in his career against Tampa Bay. In two previous starts versus the Rays, McAllister was 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA.
The Rays scored their first runs in the fourth when Ben Zobrist doubled home Sam Fuld, who had singled to lead off the inning. After a Longoria single moved him to third, an Escobar groundout brought Zobrist home for a 2-0 Tampa Bay lead.
They got two more in the fifth as well. After retiring the first two batters quickly, McAllister allowed the Rays lead to swell to 4-0 when Desmond Jennings reached on a Mike Aviles error, then gave up a single to Fuld and another double to Zobrist that brought home both base runners. Both hits were on pitches right in the middle of the strike zone and both runs that scored were unearned.
The unearned runs are nothing new for McAllister, who seems to have a lot of trouble picking up his defense. Last season, 19 of the 78 runs that McAllister gave up were of the unearned variety.
The Indians squandered a scoring opportunity in the top of the first when Bourn hustled out an infield single on the first play of the game. The ball was fielded cleanly by Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar, but the speedy Bourn beat out the strong throw to start the game with a hit. Asdrubal Cabrera bunted Bourn to second and then Bourn hustled to third on a 403 foot fly out in front of the 404 foot wall off the bat of Jason Kipnis. The threat ended when Nick Swisher just missed a 3-0 Moore fastball by flying out to left.
The Tribe then missed another scoring chance in the third, when Aviles walked to begin the inning and then moved to third on a one out Bourn double. Cabrera then smashed a grounder at third baseman Evan Longoria who caught Aviles in a run-down. As Aviles was tagged out on the 5-2-6 putout, Bourn unexpectedly ran back to second and was nearly tagged out on what would have been an inning-ending double play. Kipnis then followed with a strikeout to end the inning. The Indians bats then hibernated for the remainder of the evening.
The bright spots for the Indians during the game came courtesy of Bourn, who collected the team’s only two hits, and reliever Bryan Shaw, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief of McAllister. Michael Brantley made the defensive play of the game for the Tribe in the seventh inning when he gunned out Jose Lobaton from left field as he was trying to stretch a single into a double.
On Saturday, the 2-2 Indians will see the American League debut of offseason trade acquisition Trevor Bauer, who was 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in four starts last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bauer will temporarily replace injured fifth starter Scott Kazmir in the rotation. The Rays will counter with Alex Cobb, who last season made 23 starts for Tampa Bay going 11-9 with a 4.03 ERA. The game is scheduled to start at 7:10PM and can be seen on Fox Sports Sportstime Ohio, MLB Network and Sun Sports. The game can also be heard on the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays radio networks.
Photo: J. Meric/Getty Images