No bats, more errors help Oakland trounce Indians, 6-2
Tribe offense scores just two runs while defense records three more errors
CLEVELAND—Scott Kazmir wasn’t too happy in his return to Progressive Field, but his team sure loves it here.
Scoring six runs on eight hits, Oakland pitching continued to get the best of a stymied Indians offense Saturday, as the Indians fell to the A’s, 6-2.
It wasn’t just a poor offensive showing either, but a lack of defense that continues to leave manager Terry Francona and his ballclub in limbo.
“It certainly makes it harder to win,” the Tribe skipper said. “We talk about a lot about making errors but also giving extra opportunities. It made it harder for us.”
Cleveland (19-24) made three errors in the ballgame, giving them six in their last three games and 20 over their last 18 contests.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,” Francona said. “Need to keep going out there and trying to be there for the players instead of pointing fingers. We have to be strong enough to be better, there’s no other alternative.”
The Tribe leads all of baseball with 43 errors as a team through 43 games on the season.
Things looked good early on for the Indians, jumping out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning on a pass ball from Kazmir. But it was the Oakland southpaw that wouldn’t pass through much of the game thanks to home plate umpire Jerry Layne.
Issuing a walk to first baseman Jesus Aguliar on a borderline pitch, Kazmir barked out to Layne only to half the Crew Chief eject him from the ballgame.
“I don't really know how to start,” Kazmir said. “It ended up a pitch I thought was a strike, he didn't agree with it and before I knew it I was out of the game.”
"He was gesturing and arguing balls and strikes," Layne said. "That's automatic ejection. When I warned him, he didn't take any knowledge of that, and that's it. Bottom line, it was just pure balls and strikes.”
Some kind of return back to Cleveland for Kazmir, who has fared great with his new team, leading Oakland with five wins and a low 2.31 ERA.
"Jerry Layne has been a great umpire for so many years, and some people just have bad days, it's just one of those things I think,” Kazmir said. “It's very frustrating. I was really looking forward to this start and this is probably the best I've felt going out there.”
Despite having the A’s starter out knocked of the ballgame after just 1 1/3 innings, the Wahoo’s wouldn’t take advantage of the great opportunity. Hitters grounded into three double plays and finished the contest 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
Left without a starter after two frames, Oakland right-hander Dan Otero (4-0, 1.78 ERA) kept his club in the ballgame going a scoreless 3 2/3 innings after Kazmir’s ejection.
“Otero did a really good job for them,” Francona said. “He kind of let them get their bullpen in order and bailed them out.”
The rest of the A’s bullpen followed suit, allowing just a sac fly to Asdrubal Cabrera in the sixth as they totaled for a strong 7 2/3 innings of work on the night.
Tribe starter Josh Tomlin (2-1, 2.89 ERA) also put in a good day of work on the mound, but was handed the tough luck loss despite recording his third straight quality start.
“I felt pretty good,” Tomlin said. I just followed Yan [Gomes] as much as I could and tried to keep them off balance.”
The right-hander went six solid innings surrendering three runs on five hits, walking one and striking out two. It just came down to one bad frame from Tomlin in the third.
After Coco Crisp doubled, Oakland’s Josh Donaldson tied up the game at one with a RBI single. One batter later, Brandon Moss launched a two-run homer to the seats in right field giving the A's a lead they never relinquished.
“They put some good swings on the ball,” Tomlin said. “That team battles. They don’t strikeout very much and that inning kind of got away from me, and that’s what hurt us.”
A botched catch by Aguliar at first base on what should’ve been a double play ball gave Oakland extra opportunities, leading to a two-run triple by Donaldson that sealed the victory.
“It’s just the luck of the draw right now for us,” Rzepcynski said. “Guys are going out there and doing the best they can, unfortunately it’s just happening to us right now and that kind of stuff happens.”
Offensively the Indians continue to struggle, scoring just five runs over their last three games. They fall to 9 1/2 games in back of first place Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central, and fall to 4-19 when scoring three runs or fewer.
“It’s frustrating,” Tomlin said. “We have to do a better job and comeback tomorrow and find that spark, to try and to get back on top and string together a few wins here.”
Cleveland hasn’t been 9 1/2 games out of first place through 43 games since May 24, 2010.
Up next for Indians: The Tribe looks to avoid a three-game sweep in the series finale Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Staff aceJustin Masterson (2-2, 4.31 ERA) toes the rubber against Athletics right-hander Jesse Chavez (3-1, 2.44 ERA). Masterson is an unbeaten 2-0 at Progressive Field with a 3.30 ERA in five starts.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need an everyday 3B, a regular RF and an everyday 1B. Add to that a reliable starter. This is not a total rebuild but it's a remodeling and it is needed. We have to get better on defense and on offense.
The Indians are locked into long term deals with Santana, Swisher and Bourn. It's now like they can just bench these guys. They're stuck with them and as long as they're underperforming there's nothing that can be done.
Is playing 3B affecting Santana's hitting? I don't know. You'd think it would help his hitting since he's not getting beat up at catcher.
A few things:
1. I seriously think the Indians should table the Santana at 3B experiment- he's not that much of an upgrade at 3B over Chisenhall and Aviles (if at all) to afford allowing his offense to fall off as much as it has, and based on his track record, you have to believe that the move to 3B is the main reason why he has fallen to a level offensively he has never shown before. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know some of his better offensive days have come when he has DHed, played 1B, and even when he has caught.
Major reasons for the Indians' offensive struggles boil down to Swisher, Kipnis, and Santana- all three had been underperforming when Kipnis was in there, and the two still in there are still underperforming.
Speaking of Swisher:
2. He's probably been more disappointing than Bourn offensively and defensively. Yes, I know Swisher was signed to bring about a "new era," in Cleveland when it came to free agents, but he was still expected to produce at a solid level, something he hasn't done on either side of the ball. I'd argue he's been worse than Bourn in that regard.
It doesn't help when a key member of your offense is playing more like the 2013-2014 version of Jason Giambi; except for the fact that Giambi is taking up a roster spot and his bat may not do much because he can't get enough at-bats to stay sharp (and he shouldn't get at-bats in place of Chisenhall or Aviles), you can take Giambi doing that because he is in his early 40s and is not expected to be an everyday player nowadays. However, the same can't be said for Swisher: He is still expected to play everyday and produce at a solid level, if just a bit of a dropoff from his A's and Yankees' days- so far, he hasn't come close.
That's why I would have him only play 4-5 times a week, 1-2 times at 1B, and have him DH the rest of the time. Have Santana and Aguilar split time at 1B, have Chisenhall at 3B most of the time, with Aviles spelling him now and then, and have Ramirez play the majority of the time at 2B (why is he not playing more? It doesn't do him any good sitting on the bench; he's not even coming in late for pinch-running and defensive games most of the time. Aviles can split time between LF/3B/2B, even 1B to keep his bat in the lineup).
Again, Francona seems slow to make changes that definitely look to be needed. The Indians are making an average of 1 error per game; even our weakest teams of the past 10-15 years were never this bad; the defensive scheme is not working, and much of it centers around the poor play of the infield, mostly Santana at 3B, Swisher at 1B, and Kipnis at 2B (Gomes at C has had a high number of errors too, but I don't think there is much of another option there - don't think they play Santana more there, doubt you rely on someone like Kottaras to take the majority of the time if you called him back up, and I don't think you'd do that with Perez either - and still think Gomes can stabilize and improve back there; I'm not as convinced about the other three, Kipnis included, especially when you have a better defender in Ramirez here who should be playing more and helping to shore up that defense while he's here, as I suspect he'll probably be sent back when Kipnis comes.back from the DL).
Watching the Indians play with the anemic offense and the poor defense is very frustrating, but I think it's equally frustrating that no real changes have been made to the main offensive and defensive culprits, namely Santana and Swisher. 40+ games in now, some significant changes have to be made if the Indians want to have a chance of playing in October, and those changes have to come right now, not next month. Tomlin gives up 3 runs, has one bad inning, and the Indians act like they're down 10 runs, let alone the bullpen not helping. But again, the offense and defense have been poor; it won't matter who's pitching if both areas don't start improving significantly and quickly.