Trevor Bauer got back on track on Saturday afternoon in Oakland, but the Cleveland offense and defense both derailed as the A’s wasted an Indians rally in the ninth with one of their own to walk off for the second straight game, 3-2.
Bauer fulfilled his role as the team’s active number one starter, but a quiet day at the plate from the offense and an adventure in the field with a pair of errors and several other mental mistakes cost the Indians a chance to even up the series in Oakland. The Indians were unable to break through against Athletics starting pitcher Aaron Brooks (who took the mound in the second after the unanticipated opening effort from reliever Liam Hendriks), but they hung in and rallied in the ninth before falling with one out in the bottom of the frame.
The A’s got on the board in the first inning as one of those defensive issues surfaced for the Tribe. Just pitches after striking out in an ugly at bat to end the first, Jose Ramirez could not handle a grounder from Marcus Semien to start the A’s day at the plate. Jurickson Profar flied to right before Semien stole second. Matt Chapman, the hero of Friday night’s walk-off win in 12 innings, delivered with another RBI, driving in Semien with an unearned run. Chapman went to second on the throw to the plate and later moved up to third on a wild pitch from Bauer, but a strikeout by Matt Olson and a fly to center by Kendrys Morales left another runner 90 feet from home. The Indians avoided additional damage caused on a missed pop up in foul territory by Ramirez.
The Indians stranded a pair in the second inning. Jake Bauers walked with one out against Brooks and Jordan Luplow slashed a single to center. A fielder’s choice force at second put runners on the corners, but Roberto Perez grounded to Chapman at third to end the inning. The Indians went down in order in third and left a runner in scoring position in the fourth, as Ramirez led off the inning with a walk, stole second on a swinging strikeout by Bauers for out number two, and remained on the bases on a fly out to center by Luplow.
Bauer had some early trouble with the strike zone, but it may have been more a reflection on some inconsistencies behind the plate from home plate umpire Ted Barrett. He walked a batter and struck out one in the second and added another walk with two strikeouts in the third. He retired the side in order for the first time in the fourth, getting two strikeouts and a foul out to first.
The Indians evened things up with a big swing in the fifth. Mike Freeman sent a 2-2 pitch into right field for a base hit, but with Perez at the plate, he was caught stealing on a close play that withstood manager Terry Francona’s replay review. Perez lined to right for the second out, but down to his final strike, Leonys Martin drove a 2-2 fastball deep to right for his sixth homer of the season, tying the game at 1-1.
The A’s responded on a series of defensive miscues by the Indians in the bottom of the fifth. Bauer struck out Robbie Grossman swinging. Catcher Nick Hundley drove a 1-1 four-seamer high off of the wall in left. Bauers misplayed the ball, going all the way to the wall instead of playing the ricochet, forcing him to have to chase down the ball. He fired quickly to third base, but Ramirez did not focus on fielding the throw prior to trying to place the tag and the ball went past him to the backstop. Bauer was not in proper position behind the plate, forcing Perez to track down the ball while allowing Hundley to complete his Little League homer (officially ruled a triple and a fielding error). The A’s were given a 2-1 lead on the mental and defensive lapses by the Tribe.
The Indians knocked Brooks out of the game in the top of the sixth after Jason Kipnis doubled to left center and Ramirez walked for the second time on the afternoon. Yusmeiro Petit was summoned by manager Bob Melvin and the right-hander got three straight outs, getting Carlos Santana to foul out to third, Bauers to strike out looking, and Luplow to fly to center as Cleveland’s woes with runners in scoring position on the day continued.
Cleveland missed another chance in the seventh. Freeman led off the inning with a single. Perez struck out and Melvin returned to the center of the diamond for Lou Trivino. The righty, who let the tying run to cross in the seventh on Friday night, retired Martin on a bunt attempt. Freeman moved to third on a wild pitch, but Lindor could not come through for a second time against Trivino, as he grounded to Profar at second to leave the tying run at third.
Bauer retired seven in a row after the Little League homer before a walk of Grossman with two down in the seventh. Hundley struck out swinging for Bauer’s tenth strikeout of the day to end his outing.
Trivino had to pitch himself out of trouble again in the eighth. Kipnis singled to start the inning and stole second, but Ramirez popped to short, Santana popped to third, and Bauers was set down looking.
A.J. Cole, who got the call from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game, pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth to keep it a one-run game. Blake Treinen, A’s closer, came on for the save in the Tribe’s last ditch efforts to tie the game but instead ran into trouble. Luplow singled as the Indians put the leadoff man on base for the seventh time in nine innings, for the sixth straight inning, and for the fifth consecutive frame via hit. Freeman sacrificed the runner to second. Carlos Gonzalez pinch-hit for Perez but struck out on a cutter for the second out. With the tying run at second and down to their final out, the Indians delivered a blown save to Treinen as Martin singled to left, scoring Luplow with the tying run. Lindor moved Martin to third with a single to right and stole second to put two big runs in scoring position, but Kipnis failed to come through as he struck out swinging to end the threat with the score tied at two.
Cole returned to the mound for an exhausted Indians bullpen, all of which had worked the previous night with the exception of lefty Tyler Olson. The A’s Olson drew a seven-pitch walk and moved to second on a single to center by Morales. Stephen Piscotty sacrificed both runners up with the first sacrifice bunt of the season by the A’s (and their first since August 12, 2018). Ramon Laureano lofted a soft fly ball into shallow right. Luplow charged, but slipped on the grass, allowing the ball to fall and the winning run to cross with ease for the A’s with a second straight walk-off win from Oakland Coliseum.
The A’s moved to 19-22 on the season and 14-9 at home, while the Indians fell to 20-18 on the year and 9-11 on the road.
The poor defensive showing from Cleveland spoiled a solid start from Bauer, who threw a season-high 122 pitches on the night. He allowed two unearned runs on just two hits over seven innings of work, walking three and striking out ten in a tough no-decision.
Treinen earned the win despite blowing his second save of the campaign. He allowed a run on three hits in the ninth, striking out a pair in the process. Brooks was the scheduled starter, but came on after a scoreless inning from opener Hendriks. Brooks worked four innings, giving up a run on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts on 91 pitches.
Prior to the game, the Indians purchased the contract of Cole from Triple-A Columbus and optioned starter Cody Anderson to the Clippers. Cole assumed the 40-man roster spot previously vacated by Max Moroff, who was outrighted to Triple-A.
The A’s were without the services of star outfielder Khris Davis for the second time in the series and the third straight game overall. He was held out of the lineup while dealing with a left hip contusion. The team has had an interesting week in the win column, getting a no-hitter from starter Mike Fiers during their series with the Cincinnati Reds while also winning three separate times in their final at bats.
The Indians will look to avoid the series sweep on Sunday in a 4:07 PM ET start from Oakland. The A’s will call up right-hander Daniel Mengden from Triple-A Las Vegas to make his first start of the season at the Major League level. The Indians will turn to a minor league option of their own, using right-hander Jefry Rodriguez (1-2, 2.41 ERA).
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