CLEVELAND: Indians manager Terry Francona has often said that momentum in baseball lasts only as far as the next day’s opposing pitcher.
For the Indians, who had begun to roll offensively, consider that momentum halted.
The Indians managed only three hits against Oakland A’s starting pitcher Sean Manaea and fell 3-1 to the A’s Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
The left-handed Manaea (4-3) lasted seven innings and struck out nine. The Indians’ lone bright spot was Francisco Lindor, who in the fourth inning belted a solo home run to tie it 1-1.
It was Lindor’s team-leading 12th homer of the season, and also increased to 16 the number of consecutive games in which the Indians have hit a home run, their longest such stretch since a 17-game streak that carried over from 2001 into 2002.
But on Wednesday, it wasn’t enough against Manaea.
“He was moving the ball. He was locating. And his delivery was a little [funky],” Lindor said. “He can get you off your timing. He had a plan and he executed. He beat us today.”
On the offensive side, A’s shortstop Chad Pinder essentially downed the Indians (27-24) single-handedly. Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (2-2) turned in a quality outing, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out seven in 6? innings. But he couldn’t fool Pinder, who blasted two home runs and drove in all three of the A’s runs with the first multi-homer game of his career.
Both home runs came on hanging breaking balls — one a slider and the other a curveball — that Clevinger failed to locate.
“He left two breaking balls [over the plate] to Pinder that got hit. Other than that, he was really good,” Francona said. “I think if he gets 6? [innings] and three [runs], most nights we’re talking about how well he did.”
Pinder, continuing his career game, also made a leaping catch in the bottom of the ninth that robbed Lindor of a hit that would have brought the tying run to the plate with one out.
With two outs, Michael Brantley hit a routine fly ball to left field that was whiffed by A’s left fielder Khris Davis, giving the Indians new life.
But closer Santiago Casilla (eight saves) induced Carlos Santana to hit a second routine fly ball to the outfield, this one being caught by right fielder Matt Joyce to end it.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.