Indians left-hander Kyle Crocketreached the major leagues faster than even he expected. So it was merely fitting that the left-hander would get into his first major league game sooner than anyone expected Friday night at Progressive Field.
Not only was Crockett the first member of Major League Baseball’s 2013 draft class to reach the big leagues, there was little sitting around waiting to get a chance to pitch in his first game with the Indians.
Tribe starter Zach McAllister followed up striking out the side in the first inning by dishing up an eight-run second that included a Josh Reddick grand slam and Josh Donaldson three-run homer as the A’s rolled the Tribe in an 11-1 win.
“I fell behind and they were able to put some balls in play and hit balls hard,” McAllister said of the stark difference between the two innings. “I left balls over the middle when I was behind and they did damage.”
After starting the season 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA, McAllister’s career-low 1 1/3 inning-outing Friday resulted in his fourth loss in his last five starts (with a no-decision sandwiched in between). The eight runs further increased his ballooning ERA to 5.36.
“The first inning he came out really good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He threw some of his better breaking balls that we’ve seen, kinda had some power to it. And then in the second inning, he lost the feel for his off speed (pitches) and he wasn’t locating his fastball, and it created a really tough inning.”
That’s how it came to be that before Crockett could even get comfortable in the bullpen, he was rushing to get loose in the second inning. A day that began with Crockett preparing to board a bus in Akron for a road trip to Erie, Pa., along with his Double-A RubberDucks teammates suddenly had him on the mound at Progressive Field with one out in the second inning.
After issuing a walk to the first batter he faced in Brandon Moss, Crockett quickly gathered his wits and induced Yoenis Cespedes into an inning-ending double play that mercifully halted the A’s rally at eight runs. But in the third inning Crockett, who had given up one earned run in his first two seasons of pro ball, gave up his first major league run and home run via a Jed Lowrie solo homer – just three batters into his brief outing.
“I defintely struggled,” Crockett said. “It was good to get that first one out of the way, (because) it was kinda nerve-wracking out there…But at the end I felt more confident after giving up that home run. I just said, ‘you gotta throw strikes’ and I started to pound the zone and the results got better at the end.”
Crockett went on to pitch 1 1/3 innings, giving up the run on two hits and a walk. Right-hander C.C. Lee and lefty Josh Outman combined for 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings before the A’s added to their lead in the seventh against starter-turned-longmanCarlos Carrasco. With two outs, Reddick added a two-run home run to his second-inning slam, giving him a career-high six RBI.
The Indians lone run came in the first inning when Nick Swisher reacquainted himself with the longball by sending Sonny Gray's first pitch 379 feet for a line drive home run that snuck over the right field corner wall and landed into the visitors bullpen. It was the first homer by the Indians first baseman since April 12th.
But after giving the Indians the brief lead, Swisher struck out three times and committed a fielding error - his fifth miscue of the season already.
Indians right fielder David Murphy and left fielder Michael Brantley were the only the Indians to garner a hit on the night, as the Tribe’s offense couldn’t solve the right-hander Gray. Over six dominating innings the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder limited the host to two hits, scattered three walks and mixed in nine strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 5-1 on the season.
“He’s a pretty special pitcher,” Francona said. “He’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he can cut it, sink it (and has a) breaking ball. A lot of our thinking today was when you get a fastball that’s middle, go ahead and whack it because he doesn’t give you much after that.
“The when you get a lead like he had, that kinda plays right into (his hands). After the first time through the order, he’d get to two strikes and put us away. He’s got so many weapons. The big breaking ball, he’s got a fastball with movement and he commands so well.”