OAKLAND, Calif.: Same old story, only just a little older.
The Indians lost for the 15th time in 18 games, as the Athletics earned a 2-1 win Friday night at Oakland Coliseum.
The score is an obvious clue to the Tribe's problems: The offense has gone into hibernation. Facing their second rookie starter in as many games, the Indians were virtually helpless, as Brett Anderson yielded only four hits and one walk in six innings.
In the first game of the series Thursday night, an even less experienced starter, Clayton Mortensen, limited the Tribe to two runs and four hits in five innings, Oakland winning 5-2.
Against Anderson, it appeared that the Indians were bent on setting a record for swinging at breaking pitches in the dirt or within three inches of the dirt. The result: Anderson established a career high in strikeouts with 10.
But the Tribe demonstrated proficiency in striking out no matter who was on the mound. Three A's relievers combined for five more strikeouts in three innings.
Lately, Indians batsmen had been slowing their tendency to strike out. The last time they went down on strikes 10 or more times was Sept. 11 against the Royals, but it took 12 innings for Kansas City pitchers to strike out 13.
The last nine-inning game that saw the Tribe achieve double digits in strikeouts was on Sept. 1, when Tigers pitchers struck out 11.
Sidearmer Brad Ziegler allowed the only Cleveland run Friday night. Shin-Soo Choo began the brief rally with a one-out single and scored on Matt LaPorta's double. LaPorta is one of the few Tribe hitters who have contributed anything to the cause on the current trip.
LaPorta is 7-for-19 with a double, two home runs and six RBI, but his team is 0-5 for Minnesota and Oakland so far.
David Huff already has made his mark in his first major-league season. With 10 wins already, he is virtually assured of leading the Tribe in wins. He also is one of six rookies in the Amierican League with double digit wins this year, and he is the first Cleveland rookie to win at least 10 games since Ryan Dreese won 10 in 2002.
The Indians' runnerup in victories is Aaron Laffey, but he would have to win all of his remaining 2009 starts to tie Huff, who probably has three starts left.
None of this helped get Huff a win Friday night, even though he gave up only two runs.
Huff allowed the leadoff to reach in five of the six innings he was on the mound but was able to work out of trouble all but once, in the third.
Rajai Davis led off the inning with a bloop single to right and advanced to second on a walk to Kurt Suzuki. Scott Hairston was retired on an infield fly, but Nomar Garciaparra doubled to score Davis, Suzuki stopping at third.
Huff induced Bobby Crosby to pop to the second baseman, but Mark Ellis singled sharply to left. Suzuki scored, but Ellis was thrown out on relays by Trevor Crowe and Jhonny Peralta, when he made a big turn at first and got hung up between bases.
Otherwise, Huff continually stymied the A's, despite allowing seven hits and two walks.
The first two Oakland batters reached in the first, but neither advanced past third. Ellis led off the second with a hit, Davis singled to start the fifth, and Garciaparra singled to lead off the sixth.
Choo saved a run in the fourth, when Daric Barton led off with a drive to right. Choo retreated quickly to the fence, leaped and caught the ball before it could clear the fence.