Timely Hitting the Difference In Tribe Loss; Athletics 3, Indians 2
Mike Brandyberry | On 17, Aug 2013
Timing is everything.
Friday night the Oakland Athletics used timely two-out hitting to score all three runs they needed to defeat the Tribe, 3-2. The difference in the game was the Indians inability to take advantage of Oakland walks or get two-out hitting. Oakland, while not receiving free passes, scored with runners in scoring position.
The eye test would tell you that Justin Masterson pitched well enough to win. He certainly out-pitched Oakland’s A.J. Griffin and his bullpen mates, but Cleveland’s recent offensive struggles continue to hinder their ability to compete in the wild card race.
Oakland scored in the bottom of the first inning with two already out. Josh Reddick singled to left field with two gone, then Yoenis Cespedes crushed a home run to left field and gave the Athletics a 2-0 lead early on Masterson.
The Tribe had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the top of the second, but could not take advantage of Griffin’s wildness. Michael Brantley singled to right field to start the inning and Asdrubal Cabrera walked to put two on with no one out. However, Yan Gomes grounded into a double play to erase some of the threat. Griffin still walked Lonnie Chisenhall to put runners on the corners with two outs, but Drew Stubbs struck out looking to end the inning.
Cleveland logged a tally on the scoreboard the next inning. With one out, Nick Swisher singled to right field. After Jason Kipnis lined out, Carlos Santana singled to right field with two outs. Swisher headed for third base and Reddick’s throw was high from right field and cleared third base and went out of play. The wild throw allowed Swisher to score and the Indians to claw back to trailing just 2-1.
Griffin lasted just five innings for Oakland on the evening. While he allowed just the unearned run on four hits, his five walks were his detriment. His high pitch count chased him from the game early. Griffin threw 104 pitches in just five frames. Dan Otero worked a scoreless sixth inning.
Left-hander Sean Doolittle took over for Oakland in the top of the seventh and gave the Indians a golden opportunity to take the lead, but the Indians could only manage one more run. Stubbs started the inning with a double off the wall in left center field. Michael Bourn bunted him to third base before Swisher singled to right field through a drawn in infield. Swisher’s base hit tied the game at two for Cleveland.
The Tribe had a chance to score more, however, but could not cash in. Kipnis walked, advancing Swisher to second base. After Santana popped out to second base, Brantley also drew a walk to load the bases. Cabrera could not come through, though, flying out to left field to end the inning.
But the Athletics answered right back in the bottom of the seventh inning with another two-out rally. After two were gone, Stephen Vogt singled and Eric Sogard followed with a double into the right field corner. Kipnis’ relay throw was high and the Indians had no play at the plate, allowing the Athletics to take a 3-2 lead. Gomes threw to third to cut down Sogard at third base to end the inning.
Ryan Cook relieved Doolittle in the eighth and again presented a golden opportunity for the Indians. After two outs were recorded, Stubbs doubled down the left field line and Bourn walked but Swisher grounded weakly to second base to leave the runners stranded.
In the bottom of the eighth Masterson retired the first two, but was finally removed from the game after Josh Reddick singled to right field. Cody Allen came on to get Cespedes to pop out to first base to end the inning and the threat.
Masterson (13-9) pitched seven and two-third innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, a walk and four strike outs.
Doolittle (4-4) earns the win in relief and Grant Balfour pitched the ninth inning for his 31st save of the season. The Tribe had a chance in the ninth when Santana walked and Brantley singled to left field. Mike Aviles pinch-ran for Santana and was doubled off second base to end the game when Cabrera lined to third base.
Cleveland’s downfall was their inability to take advantage of nine walks the Athletics handed them. The Indians left 13 men on base.
The loss leaves the Indians six games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division and four games in back of the wild card. Detroit was swept in a doubleheader today. Had the Indians won, they would have made ground in both races.
Saturday the Indians will try to even the series and make some ground in the pennant race. Ubaldo Jimenez (8-7, 4.11) will pitch for the Tribe, while Dan Straily (6-6, 4.19) will toe the rubber for Oakland.
Photo: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images