Eight-Run Second Inning Sends Tribe to Defeat; Athletics 11, Indians 1

It couldn’t have started much better for Zach McAllister and it couldn’t have turned worse much faster.

After striking out the side in the first inning on just 16 pitches, the Oakland Athletics hung eight runs on McAllister and the Tribe in the second inning. McAllister—the Indians best pitcher in April—could only record one more out in his final 38 pitches. Oakland was able to tally eight runs in the inning, courtesy of a grand slam and three-run home run. The Athletics cruised to an 11-1 victory in the opening game of the three game series Friday night.

Cleveland looked to be off to a good start in the first inning. After McAllister struck out the side in the top half of the inning, Nick Swisher hit a solo home run to stake the Indians to a 1-0 lead. Swisher’s third home run of the season was the most recent sign that the Tribe’s first baseman could be swinging his way out of his early season slump.

However, it went bad quickly for McAllister (3-4) and the Indians. The big, right-hander’s disappointing May continued in the second inning. Brandon Moss started the inning with a double down the right field line and Yoenis Cespedes singled to left field before Jed Lowrie singled in the first run of the game. Josh Reddick struck the first big blow of the game, hitting a grand slam home run into the right field seats. His third homer of the season put Oakland up 5-1, with no one out.

But it went from bad to worse, quickly. After Eric Sogard grounded out, McAllister walked Coco Crisp and John Jaso before Josh Donaldson crushed a three-run to left field. His 10th home run of the year hit the concession stand at the back of the Home Run Porch to make it 8-1.

That ended McAllister’s evening after just one inning and a third, allowing eight runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out three. In McAllister’s last two starts, he’s lasted just five and two-third innings, allowing 13 runs on 13 hits and four walks.

Kyle Crockett made his Major League debut in relief of McAllister. After walking the first hitter he faced, Crockett induced Cespedes into a double play to end the inning. Lowrie welcomed Crockett to the big leagues with a solo home run in the third inning to give Oakland a 9-1 lead. Crockett had allowed just one run on the season at Double-A, but allowed a run in an inning and a third on a pair of hits. Normally a one-inning pitcher, Crockett yielded to C.C. Lee with two outs in the third inning.

It was all the offense Oakland’s young starter Sonny Gray (5-1) would need. Gray allowed just one hit after Swisher’s home run in the first inning. He cruised through six innings, allowing just the one run on two hits and three walks, striking out nine. Michael Brantley had the lone hit after Swisher’s first inning homer. Fernando Rodriguez took over for the Athletics in the seventh inning, pitching two more scoreless innings. Josh Johnson worked a scoreless ninth inning in a mop up role, allowing the Tribe’s third hit of the evening to David Murphy.

Meanwhile, the Indians saturated their bullpen. After McAllister, Crockett and Lee each could not pitch more than an inning and a third, Josh Outman pitched a scoreless inning before giving way to Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco’s 2014 struggles continued when he allowed a two-run home run in the top of the seventh, making it 11-1. He did pitch the final four innings, salvaging a few relievers for the weekend.

Defensively, the Indians made two more errors on the evening. Carlos Santana made a throwing error and Swisher let a ground ball scoot by him at first base. The Indians continue to be the worst team in the American League in defense.

Saturday the Indians will try to get back on track. They’ll need a quality start from Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.13) to help stabilize the beleaguered bullpen. Oakland will counter with former Tribesman, left-hander Scott Kazmir (5-1, 2.28).

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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