Finding good, Indians starting pitching has been tough this season.
The Indians found a good start from T.J. House, however, they didn’t support it with solid defense or timely hitting. Instead, Homer Bailey set down the Tribe while Cincinnati took advantage of defensive miscues and made the most of timely hitting to win 4-0. The victory gives the Reds a win in the four-game series this week and the Ohio Cup.
The Indians were held to just five hits by Bailey and the Reds. Meanwhile Cincinnati used three, two-out base hits to take control of the game. Cleveland’s defense struggled, like it has all year, but Cincinnati was able to use the speed of Billy Hamilton to make the Indians suffer when they created a mishap. The Indians had three errors in the game and a misplayed ball in the outfield that was not ruled an error.
Cincinnati picked up Thursday evening just as they did on Wednesday, scoring early. In the bottom of the first Hamilton started the inning with a single to left field, then used his speed to impact the inning. Jay Bruce hit an infield single to third base, beating Lonnie Chisenhall’s throw to first base. Hamilton, meanwhile, rounded second base and headed to third. Indians first baseman Carlos Santana threw back to third base, but threw the ball away for an error.
Hamilton was awarded home and the Reds took a 1-0 lead. Bruce advanced to third base on the throw and appeared to be stranded after Todd Frazier flared out to second base and Devin Mesoraco struck out swinging. Former Indian Ryan Ludwick came through with a two-out base hit to left field, scoring Bruce and giving the Reds an early 2-0 lead after a frame.
The Reds took advantage of more shoddy Tribe defense in the bottom of the third inning. After House retired the first two hitters, Bailey singled before Hamilton tripled into the left center field gap. While it was ruled a triple, Nick Swisher should have cut off the ball. Instead it skipped past Swisher, rolled to the wall and allowed another Cincinnati run to score, leaving the Tribe in a 3-0 deficit after two innings.
Cincinnati stole a run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Frazier started the inning with a walk and after two outs were recorded, he swiped second base. Indians catcher Yan Gomes’ throw was in time, but just off the mark enough that Jason Kipnis could not make the tag in time. Kristopher Negron made the Indians pay again, when he laced a two-out, base hit to right field to extend the lead to 4-0, Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, Bailey had the Indians’ offense stifled all evening. Bailey (9-5) tossed seven, strong innings, allowing just four hits and no runs, while walking one and striking out eight.
It looked as if the Reds may add to their lead in the seventh inning when Zack Cosart started the inning with a triple. Indians manager Terry Francona made a double-switch, removing House and Jose Ramirez for C.C. Lee and Mike Aviles. Chris Heisey scorched Lee’s first pitch right at Aviles. He made the play, keeping Cosart at third base. Lee then struck out Hamilton and Bruce to keep it a 4-0 deficit. Lee pitched the final two innings of the game, holding the Reds scoreless.
For House (1-3), he deserved a better fate than his Tribe teammates gave him. He pitched six innings, allowing four runs—three earned—on eight hits, a walk and five strikeouts. While only one run was ruled unearned, three of Cincinnati’s four runs were the result of poor Cleveland defense. The Tribe remains the worst defensive team in Major League Baseball.
Left-hander Manny Parra pitched the eighth inning for Cincinnati. After Aviles singled and stole second base to start the inning, Parra got Kipnis, David Murphy and Michael Brantley to stand him in scoring position. The Indians were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded six runners in the game. Jonathan Broxton set the Indians down in order in the ninth to end the game.
The defeat drops Cleveland to 57-58 on the season and 6.5 games behind Central Division leading Detroit. The Indians remain just 3.5 games back of Toronto for the final Wild Card spot, but Kansas City, New York and Seattle are all ahead of Cleveland in the race. Cleveland has lost three straight games, scoring just five runs in their three defeats.
Friday, the Indians will begin a three game series in New York against the Yankees. The Bronx Bombers will start Esmil Rogers (1-0, 5.84) in his first start of the season. Cleveland will counter with Trevor Bauer (4-6, 4.20). Bauer defeated the Yankees on July 8 at Progressive Field.
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