LOS ANGELES: One-hit wonders is a title the Indians need to slough off immediately.
For three consecutives days, the Tribe has been involved in a one-hitter, and the last two have been of the woe-is-me variety.
Dan Haren, Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen limited the Indians to one hit – that coming by virtue of a replay reversal – as the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled out a 1-0 victory Monday night in Dodger Stadium.
Sunday afternoon in Seattle, Felix Hernandez and Fernando Rodney held the Indians to a mere fifth-inning single by Lonnie Chisenhall as the Mariners prevailed 3-0 at Safeco Field.
On Saturday night, Josh Tomlin threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout in a 5-0 Indians’ victory over the Mariners.
Those five runs seem like eons ago.
In the past two days, the Indians have gone 2 for 54 at the plate. They have walked only four times, three of those coming off Hernandez and one off Haren. They are scoreless in the last 21 innings and 3 for 63 in that span. They left Dodger Stadium with a .254 team batting average.
They are making history, and not the kind they seek. According to Baseball-Reference.com, it marked only the seventh time since at least 1914 that a team has been one-hit in consecutive games, the third time for an American League team. Joining the Indians in the AL futility books are the Detroit Tigers (May 3-4, 1996) and the Chicago White Sox (Aug. 10-11, 1917). The previous last to suffer were the Cincinnati Reds (April 25-26, 2013).
“Haren was on tonight. We couldn't get to him,” Indians center fielder Michael Bourn said. “We've had (21) innings in a row and we haven't scored. Of course, offensively, it's frustrating for us. Our pitching has been A-plus. (T.J.) House pitched great yesterday and (Corey) Kluber was lights out again.
“It's like if we're pitching, we're not hitting. If we're hitting, we're not pitching. If we can get it on the same page, man, we'll be a scary team to face.”
After the dregs of the last two days, getting everyone on the same page seems like a waiting-for-next-year proposition.
The only hit the Indians managed against the Dodgers was Bourn’s infield single in the third inning and manager Terry Francona had to use a challenge to get that. Bourn was initially called out at first on a grounder to third base, but the call was overturned.
Pause and ponder for a second: They were a 58-second replay review from being no-hit.
“I've had so many bang-bang calls in my career. Now we've got replay and I'm happy about it,” Bourn said. “Rarely have I been called safe when I've been out. It's always been the other way. I kind of just had a feeling for it on that one. I felt it when I touched the bag -- I knew I beat the ball.”
The more pertinent question was whether the consecutive one-hitters are more a reflection of the Indians’ slumping lineup or stellar pitching by the other side.
“Combination of both,” third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall said. “Two days in a row the pitcher’s gotten ahead and thrown the ball where he’s wanted to. We’ve fallen into the habit … I don’t even know what to say. It’s just been a tough two days.
“You’ve got to give the pitchers a lot of credit, it doesn’t happen a lot. We didn’t even have a lot of walks. That’s kind of what we do. We work counts and get hits and put pressure on guys and we haven’t done that two days in a row.”
Indians right-hander Corey Kluber (7-6, 2.99) sided with the pitchers.
“Felix was great yesterday and Haren was good today,” Kluber said. “That’s part of the game. You sometimes run into a buzz saw and other guys have great games. You can’t really second-guess or complain about that, you’ve just got to tip your hat to the other guys.”
Francona also praised the opposition. The Dodgers have not allowed a run in their last 24 innings dating back to Saturday. They moved into first place in the National League West, rallying from 91/2 back of the San Francisco Giants on June 8. They won Monday on first baseman Clint Robinson’s two-out single up the middle in the seventh inning for his first major league hit in just his eighth major league at-bat. That scored Andre Ethier, whose leadoff triple ticked off the glove of left fielder Michael Brantley.
“I thought Haren pitched really well,” Francona said. “He threw a lot of strikes and stayed out of the middle of the plate the entire game. He threw enough cutters in to where he broke a couple bats or jammed us and got us thinking in and then went back to way soft. I didn’t see a whole lot of mistakes he made. Carlos (Santana) hit a couple balls hard and they made a great play on Bournie’s ball to keep it in the infield and almost got the out.”
Chisenhall said he was surprised that the Indians’ formula from 2013 of working counts and maximizing walks hasn’t worked in the past week or so.
“We’ll break out of it soon,” Chisenhall said. “It’s just the halfway point right now. We’re looking to get hot in August and September.”