The Cleveland Indians put up 14 hits on Wednesday night but came away with just two runs as they fell 6-2 to the San Diego Padres.
It was more of the same for the Indians, who have found it difficult to win at Progressive Field this season and found defeating National League opponents even more infuriating and impossible to do. Despite giving starter Trevor Bauer (7-7) an early lead to work with, the Indians (44-39) could not protect it and fell to one of the worst teams in baseball in the Padres (36-48) as the inconsistent play from the Indians this season continued in the final days before the All-Star break.
Cleveland jumped ahead with a run in the bottom of the third against San Diego right-hander Luis Perdomo (4-4) as Francisco Lindor singled home Erik Gonzalez, who had reached on an infield single and moved into scoring position on an error and a groundout by Bradley Zimmer. The Padres would tie the game with a response run in the next half inning against Bauer as Erick Aybar was hit by a pitch with one out before moving to second on a grounder and scoring on a single to center by Carlos Asuaje to tie the game.
The Padres would score five more runs over the next three innings to follow to claim the ball game. The scoring started again in the fifth, when Luis Torrens singled to start the inning and scored on a triple by Jose Pirela to right-center, despite a heroic effort from Zimmer, who crashed violently into the wall but ran just out of room to secure the baseball. Two outs later, Pirela scored as Hunter Renfroe lined a ball over the head of Lindor at short that deflected on one hop all the way to Michael Brantley in left. The play was curiously ruled an error (and therefore an unearned run for Bauer), but regardless, the run made it a 3-1 game.
The Indians pulled within a run in the bottom of the fifth when Gonzalez led off the inning with a double to left. He moved to third on a groundout by Zimmer and scored on a double by Lindor to make it a 3-2 game. The Friars tacked on another response run in the sixth and two more in the seventh while the Indians could not make their ways around the bases. Asuaje made it a 4-2 game in the sixth with the third straight hit off of Bauer to start the inning. His single scored Aybar and ended Bauer’s night. Cory Spangenberg put the game out of reach with a two-run homer in the seventh off of Zach McAllister.
Lindor looked like an All-Star on Wednesday night at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a single, two doubles, and both runs batted in for the Tribe. He stepped up in the clutch as well, getting hits in both plate appearances with runners in scoring position.
His left side of the infield neighbor and fellow All-Star, Jose Ramirez, extended his hitting streak to seven straight with a single.
The Indians’ woes against the National League and at home are becoming significant points of concern for the club. Cleveland is just 2-11 in interleague play with one more game against the Padres this week and three with San Francisco just after the All-Star break. The team will also play a makeup game against the Cincinnati Reds later in July and will host the Colorado Rockies for a pair at Progressive Field.
Those latter three games may be even more of a concern as they will be both interleague and home games, a Kryptonite combination for Cleveland this season. The Indians are just 18-23 at home and are one of just three teams in the American League with a losing record on their home turf.
The Indians racked up 14 hits, but managed to strand nine runners on base while going 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position on the night. The biggest culprits were Edwin Encarnacion, Roberto Perez, and Zimmer, who were each 0-for-2 in key spots. Brantley and Yan Gomes each had a hit with runners in scoring position while Lindor delivered both times he was in that situation.
The Indians offense is a combined 4-for-25 with runners in scoring position through the first two games of the interleague set with 16 runners stranded on base.
Abraham Almonte performed nicely in his return from the disabled list and an extended rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus. He had worked in 14 games with the Clippers, hitting .311 while with the club, and got the call back to Cleveland on Wednesday when the Indians placed first baseman Carlos Santana on the paternity list.
The switch-hitting outfielder recorded three hits in four trips in his first big league action since May 15. He had been on the disabled list since while dealing with a right biceps issue before returning to the field in the minors.
The Indians will need to make another roster move in the coming days when Santana is ready to rejoin the club.
The Indians were once again without the expert tutelage of manager Terry Francona, who remained away from the club and at the Cleveland Clinic while undergoing further testing and observation for his lingering physical ailments.
Francona’s long time bench coach Brad Mills once again served as the interim manager of the club and the Indians seemed punchless without Francona at the helm. What is worse is that the beloved skipper may continue to be away from the club as the rest of the homestand continues and there are questions about whether or not he can and should manage the American League All-Star team in the 88th Midsummer Classic next Tuesday in Miami.
The bullpen could not hold the game close in relief of Bauer, who gave the Indians five-plus innings on the night while allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Nick Goody cleaned up Bauer’s mess in the sixth, inheriting runners on first and second with nobody out. He was able to retire Torrens on a sacrifice and, with both runners moved into scoring position, he got a foul out to first and a strikeout to work out of the jam. Wil Myers doubled to start the next inning off of Goody before a big strikeout for the first out, but McAllister came on and danced around the strike zone before his 3-1 pitch to Spangenberg was driven to the bleachers to make a 4-2 game a 6-2 hill to climb.
AVOIDING THE SWEEP
Josh Tomlin (4-9, 6.17 ERA) will take the mound on Thursday night in the series finale between the Indians and the Padres. It will be his first career appearance against the Padres. San Diego will send 24-year-old rookie right-hander Dinelson Lamet (3-2, 5.35) to the mound in search of the sweep. He struck out eight Atlanta batters while firing seven scoreless innings in his best start to date and his third straight quality outing.
Game time from downtown Cleveland is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images