For the Indians tonight, all the elements of the team pulled together to achieve a 8-5 loss to the Athletics at Oakland Coliseum. And don’t let the four-run ninth fool you.
Shin-Soo Choo and pinch hitter Brent Lillibridge each hit a two-run homer in the ninth to put a more respectable sheen on the defeat, but there was little chance the too-little, too-late rally would turn the game around.
“”We tried to come back late in the game, but it was too much to overcome,’’ manager Manny Acta said. “”I like the way these guys fight. I’ve seen them for three years now. They’re not going to roll over.’’
Corey Kluber didn’t pitch well enough in a starting role, the hitters produced almost nothing until the last inning and the bullpen gave up four runs. The defense also faltered, committing two errors, one of which gave the A’s a boost in their biggest offensive inning.
It was one of those innings when the pitcher’s statistics don’t take a beating but he does.
The Oakland half of the third began with Cliff Pennington slapping a ground ball to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who muffed it for an error. After Pennington was sacrificed to second, Kluber walked Coco Crisp.
That led to a double steal by Pennington and Crisp to put runners on second and third, from where Josh Donaldson’s ground out scored the first run of the game.
Kluber had a chance to limit the damage. Instead, he served up a 1-and-1 pitch to Yoenis Cespedes, who launched his 16th home run of the season over the wall in left to give the Athletics a 4-0 advantage.
“”The error opened the floodgates, but Kluber should be able to limit the damage, and he couldn’t,’’ Acta said. “”He was behind in the count too much and got his pitch count way up.’’
All the runs were unearned, which helped Kluber’s earned-run average. And it needed it, because he came into the game with an 8.56 ERA.
But what does that say about the quality of his pitching, especially going forward?
“”It’s tough to label these guys on four outings in the big leagus,’’ Acta said. “”He has good stuff, so we want to keep throwing him out there. We brought him up here, and we want to look at him.’’
Kluber (1-1, 6.27 ERA) pitched through the fifth inning and gave up no other runs, allowing four hits and three walks on 95 pitches.
“”I wasn’t sharp,’’ he said. “”I threw too many balls. What I need to do is take that last inning and carry it forward.’’
Kluber retieed the side in order in the fifth with no balls hit out of the infield.
The error by Cabrera’s was his 16h of the year, a total that leads the team. In the fifth inning, third baseman Jack Hannahan dropped a pop foul for his ninth error. He and Carlos Santana are tied for second on the club with nine errors each.
“”Defense has been a strength for us,’’ Acta said. “”The only thing is when it’s not there, it has hurt us.’’
The Tribe signed Bartolo Colon in 1993, when he said he was 18 (he became two years older much later). He was in Cleveland’s rotation from 1997-2002, when he became too expensive, and the White Sox paid him $8.25 million in 2003 after he had made $4.9 million the previous year.
At 39, Colon is still going strong, with a 10-9 record and 3.43 ERA for the Athletics. That includes his start Saturday night, when he gave up one run, five hits and no walks in eight innings.
The Indians might have made him sweat if not for a botched opportunity in the fourth inning, immediately after the A’s scored.
In what were the Tribe’s first two hits of the game, Cabrera delivered a one-out double, and Shin-Soo Choo singled Cabrera to third. But Santana grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Indians made no further threatening moves against Colon until the seventh, when Santana swung at his first pitch and sent it sailing over the fence in right for his 13th home run of the season. Michael Brantley followed with a single, but the rally stopped there.
In the sixth, the A’s added a run off Frank Herrmann on Chris Carter’s one-out double and George Kottaras’ two-out single. Cespedes singled off Cody Allen to score Jemile Weeks in the seventh, and Chris Seddon gave up a two-run triple to Coco Crisp in the eighth.