By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
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CLEVELAND: The Indians’ losing streak reached six games Saturday night, as the Los Angeles Angels accepted a 7-2 win at Progressive Field.
Although the Woebegone Wahoos fell eight games behind the Detroit Tigers, who lead the Central Division, they made a dent in the league standings that rank teams in terms of errors. By committing four against the Angels, they lurched past the Chicago White Sox into fourth place.
Getting swept by the Tigers and losing two more in a row might be raising the frustration level.
“If that’s the case, we can’t let it happen,” manager Terry Francona said. “The game was kind of even. They executed and we didn’t; they made plays and we didn’t.”
Addressing the team’s attitude again, Francona said, “The way you handle frustration can define your season. We can’t just show up and throw our gloves on the field. We have to play the game.”
Making inroads in the error standings was not the team’s only deficiency. But it’s still a good place to start.
Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Yan Gomes and Ubaldo Jimenez all committed errors that impacted the game.
Although only two runs were officially unearned, the defensive blunders altered the game to the point where the words “gift runs” were the appropriate way to describe the situation.
For example, in the eighth inning, the Angels sent 10 men to the plate and scored four runs to put the game out of reach. Errors by Kipnis and Cabrera plus a wild pitch by Bryan Shaw sent the inning spinning out of control.
Jimenez (8-7, 4.11 ERA) gave the Tribe 6⅓ strong innings of pitching and six seconds of poor fielding. Actually, the mistake Jimenez made as a defender was the sin of trying to do too much.
“That’s what happens when you’re trying to survive,” Jimenez said. “We don’t want to fall too far behind, but we are trying too hard.”
Jimenez gave up two earned runs and one unearned run on five hits and three walks.
Chris Iannetta singled to start the third inning and stopped at third on J.B. Shuck’s one-out double. Jimenez loaded the bases by walking Kole Calhoun. Mike Trout slapped a ground ball to Cabrera at short that under most circumstances would have resulted in an inning-ending double play.
But Trout is one of the speedier runners in the league and beat the relay from second, allowing Iannetta to score.
In the fifth, Jimenez walked Iannetta, and Grant Green laid down a bunt that was a little too good to be a sacrifice. At least that’s the way it turned out. Jimenez made a lunge for the ball near the third-base line, gloved it and made an off balance heave that sailed far over the head of Nick Swisher at first.
Green was credited with a hit and Jimenez was charged with an error that allowed the runners to advance to second and third with no outs. That set the stage for consecutive sacrifice flies, by Shuck and Calhoun, with the second run being unearned.
Had Jimenez let catcher Gomes or third baseman Mike Aviles take charge of the bunt, Green might have been out at first. Moreover, it is unlikely that either Gomes or Aviles would have made a wild throw that set the stage for the sac flies.
“He needed to let Mike take it,” Francona said of the bunt that led to Jimenez’s error. “They’re trying to give you an out. We have to take every one that we can.”
Jimenez was under the impression that if he had a chance to reach the ball, he should give it a try.
“It was a pretty good bunt,” he said. “I should have kept the ball, but I thought I had a chance. As a pitcher, your first reaction is to try to get the ball.”
For the past week or so the Tribe has been plagued by an inability to maintain a consistent offense. Much of that failure has to do with the quality of pitching the club faced.
But Saturday night, the Indians had no trouble flooding the bases with runners. Getting them to the plate, however, seemed to be a foreign concept.
Through six innings, the Tribe put 12 men on base: seven on hits, four on walks and one batter who was hit by a pitch. No matter how they got on base, all but two stayed there.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.