The Cleveland Indians squandered a three-run lead protected over seven innings by Corey Kluber as the bullpen surrendered six unanswered runs, including three in the eleventh inning of a 6-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday afternoon.
It marked a frustrating and disappointing end result for the Tribe’s five-game winning streak as the A’s used three long balls off of the Cleveland bullpen, with two coming to the first four batters faced by the bullpen in relief of their ace.
Neil Ramirez was the first man out of the ‘pen on Saturday, looking to continue his 17-game stretch without giving up a run. Two had crossed the plate against him in his last three outings, however, as a pair of the four runners that he had inherited had come around to score against him. On Saturday, it would be his own doing as he entered in the eighth inning in relief of Kluber. He struck out Dustin Fowler to start the inning, but gave up a single to left to Mark Canha. He locked into a battle with Jed Lowrie, who fouled off four of the first six pitches that he saw before digging out a slider low and in and driving it into The Corner for a big two-run home run, the first runs charged to Ramirez since May 24 against Houston. The next batter, slugger Khris Davis, needed just three pitches to pounce on a four-seamer over the middle of the plate. It was launched to the bleachers in center to tie the game at three. Oliver Perez and Zach McAllister combined to work the final two outs of the frame.
The Indians would get a pair of singles in the bottom of the eighth inning against Lou Trivino, but were unable to make any real noise. McAllister allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to Matt Chapman before getting the next two men. Manager Terry Francona went to Cody Allen to keep the game tied with Chapman standing at second, and he got the job done thanks to a beautiful diving catch in the hole by Francisco Lindor of a liner by Fowler that saved a run.
Cleveland got a two-out single from Michael Brantley in the bottom of the ninth off of Trivino, but Jose Ramirez grounded back to the mound to send the game to extras. Allen retired the side in order with a strikeout in the tenth, while A’s closer Blake Treinen replicated Allen’s work with the same line in the home half.
Francona went to Josh Tomlin for the eleventh inning, but the move was met with rather familiar results. Matt Olson singled to right to start the inning, bringing Stephen Piscotty to the plate. He worked the count full before getting a cutter down the pipe and depositing a high fly ball over the wall in left for a tie-breaking two-run home run. Chapman doubled and stole third after a groundout by Marcus Semien. With the infield pulled in, Jonathan Lucroy grounded towards Lindor, who whiffed on a backhand attempt in advance of a throw to the plate, allowing the sixth unanswered run to cross and Lucroy to reach safely at first. He would be doubled up on the back end of a 3-6 twin killing, but the damage was done as the A’s took their first lead of the day, 6-3.
Treinen came back out for a second inning of work and retired the bottom of the Indians’ lineup with ease. Yan Gomes grounded to short, Brandon Guyer struck out swinging, and Greg Allen grounded to first.
The A’s (49-40) matched the Indians (49-38) with 49 wins on the season while ending Cleveland’s five-game winning streak. Oakland is responsible for the Tribe’s last three defeats.
Things started out much differently for the Indians, who for seven innings performed well enough to deserve a win. Kluber was on the mound and was not quite his usual sharpness, but in a reminder of how spoiled Clevelanders are to have him, despite looking his best he fired off seven shutout innings.
He worked around some trouble in the first, striking out Fowler to start the game before issuing the rare walk to Canha. Lowrie flied out before a single by Davis put runners on the corners. Olson flied to center to strand the pair.
The Indians got on the board in the bottom of the first, needing just four batters to take the early advantage. Lindor started his afternoon against veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson with a single to right-center. A double by Brantley put a pair in scoring position, but Ramirez lined to second for the first out. Edwin Encarnacion knocked in the first run of the game with a groundout to short, scoring Lindor from third to make it a 1-0 game. Yonder Alonso popped out to short to leave a runner at second.
Chapman, who entered the game 3-for-3 against Kluber with a double and two home runs, continued his strong career performance against the right-hander with a one-out double in the second, but he would move no further. The Indians then got back to work against Jackson, tallying a second run with a little help from the A’s right-hander. After a strikeout by Jason Kipnis, Gomes scampered to second base on a throwing error by the Oakland starter. Tyler Naquin lined to center for the second out, but Allen came up big with a double to right, scoring Gomes from second to make it a 2-0 game.
Kluber’s company on the base paths continued through the next few innings. Fowler reached on a leadoff single in the third, but Kluber retired the next three on outs in the air. Chapman reached with a two-out walk in the fourth, but Kluber got another pop up to end that frame. He finally retired the side in order for the first time in the fifth, getting two fly outs before Canha grounded back to the mound.
Jackson minimized the early run scoring by shutting the Tribe down through the middle innings. He set the Tribe down in order in the third and worked around a one-out Kipnis walk in the fourth by striking out the next two batters. He got out of a bit of a jam in the fifth after walking Allen to start the inning. Lindor popped out before Allen stole second. Brantley moved him to third with a fly to right. Ramirez was intentionally walked and picked off second before Encarnacion worked a walk, but with the bases loaded, Alonso popped out to second to leave them full.
Kluber got a big double play ball to end the sixth, erasing Lowrie’s leadoff single, and the Tribe bats got back to work against Jackson. With two down in the inning, Naquin singled and moved into scoring position on a second straight single from Allen. Jackson was hooked for left-hander Ryan Buchter, but he gave up a single to right to Lindor that scored Naquin with the third run of the game. The inning came to a close as Lindor was thrown out trying to stretch it to two, but the Indians had a 3-0 lead, one that would last just one more inning.
Kluber took a tough no-decision, leaving after seven scoreless innings of work. He allowed five hits and a pair of walks while striking out three. Jackson, who had earned his tenth career win against the Tribe in his last start, lasted five and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Chapman had a big day at the plate for the A’s, as he went 4-for-4 with two singles and two doubles. He reached in his other plate appearance of the day, drawing a walk in his second AB against Kluber.
Prior to the game, the A’s placed outfielder Matt Joyce on the 10-day disabled list with a lumbar strain, retroactive to Thursday. Outfielder Nick Martini was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take his place on the roster.
The two teams will wrap up their season series on Sunday afternoon in a 1:10 PM ET first pitch. Shane Bieber (4-0, 2.97 ERA) will look to give the Indians a series win to kick off their ten-game homestand. Left-hander Brett Anderson (0-2, 7.63) will return from the disabled list to make the start for Frankie Montas, who has been bumped back to Monday.
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