Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts following the Indians 11-1 loss to the visiting A’s, a game that was over after Oakland’s eight-run second inning.
1) Before the game came the feel-good story of the season to date came when Double-A pitcher Kyle Crockett was surprisingly called up from Akron to make his major league debut when right-handed starter Danny Salazar was sent down to Triple-A after a rough outing again Thursday in Toronto.
“I broke out in tears,” Crockett said. “It was hard to control. I’m usually not a big emotional guy. (But) this is everything I’ve ever dreamed of. It was hard to hold it all in.”
When Crockett, 22, called his parents to share the news, the waterworks really got going.
“They were crying,” Crockett said. “They were bawling just as much as I was. It was incredible.”
2) Honestly, that’s as good as it got on this night. Everything else was downhill from there. Think I’m exaggerating? Consider that the A’s had more home runs (four) than the Indians did hits (three).
Josh Reddick clubbed a grand slam in the second inning against Indians starter Zach McAllister, then tacked on a two-run shot off reliever Carlos Carrasco in the seventh for a career-high six RBI performance.
3) In addition to Reddick’s second-inning slam, Josh Donaldson added a three-run homer of his own to cap Oakland’s eight-run explosion that knocked McAllister out of the game after a career-low 1 1/3 innings.
4) What was so maddening about McAllister’s latest struggles was the stark contrast between the first and second innings. In he first he was as dominating as he could be, quickly sitting down the side in order via strikeouts. But in the next inning, he couldn’t buy a strike. By the time the bullpen had been called upon to put out the fire, 11 men had come to the plate as McAllister allowed eight runs on five hits (including the two home runs) and two walks.
“In the second inning of a game, you wanna give a guy a chance to get through,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said of staying with McAllister so long, even when it was appearant he didn’t have it. “(You’re hoping) maybe he can gather himself. Even if you go four (innings), you're not into your bullpen in the second inning. But it just wasn't happening.”
5) The bigger picture isn’t very rosy, either. After starting the season 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA, McAllister’s debacle Friday led to his fourth loss in his last five starts (with a no-decision sandwiched in between). The eight runs further increased his ERA to 5.36. It’s obvious that in addition to whatever mechanical flaw he might have right now, he’s also struggling with his confidence.
How worried is Francona about McAllister’s free fall? “I actually said something to him during the game. He's gonna have to be strong enough to look at the numbers right now and (even though) they're not where he wants them to be, to remember how good he is."
“He's gotta be strong enough mentally to understand he is a good pitcher and it might take him awhile to get that ERA where he's comfortable, but that doesn't mean he can't win.”
6) Even a rookie like Crockett was able to settle himself down after giving up a home run in the third inning – maeking just the second run allowed in his first year and a half as a a pro. But after dishing up the longball, he settled in and pitched the way he got to the majors so fast in the first place, as the first in all of baseball from the 2013 draft class.
“He's a command guy and tonight he was yanking some pitches,” Francona said of Crockett. “I thought it was good to get that first one out of the way for him and let him settle in.
7) Indians left fielder Michael Brantley was just one of three Indians with a hit on the night, extending his American League leading and season-high 13-game home hitting streak. Overall, the streak is five hits shy of matching the Jacobs/Progressive Field record.
8) What in the world is going on with Nick Swisher? Sure, the Indians first baseman hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first inning to put the Tribe on the board. But then he followed that up with three strikeouts and a fielding error. Swisher hasn’t been himself for some time – on the field and perhaps even, in the locker room. And that’s got to worry the Indians deep thinkers who are still waiting for a return on their investment.