OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 18: Jack Hannahan #9 of the Cleveland Indians reacts after dropping a foul ball hit off the bat of Coco Crisp #4 of the Oakland Athletics (not pictured) during the fifth inning at O.co Coliseum on August 18, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Again, the final score doesn't really tell the whole story. I guess it's good that the Indians aren't just laying down after getting behind, but the getting behind part is the bigger problem since the bottom fell out a month ago.
LGFT Bartolo Colon is having a great season and has totally reinvented himself since his fireball days. After his last good season with the Angels in 2005 (he won the Cy Young despite only posting a 122 ERA+), he didn't throw 100 innings during his final two seasons in LA and couldn't stay healthy in his seasons with Boston (2008) or Chicago (2009). He missed the 2010 season, then got a shot the Yankees, started off well but tailed off. But this year he's getting better as the season has go on. He's a control pitcher now, and he's become very good at it. Tonight he kept the Indians off balance for eight innings, allowing just five hits and one run (a Carlos Santana homer in the seventh).
At this stage of their careers, Corey Kluber has better stuff than Colon, but Kluber's night ended a lot earlier than Colon's. Corey seemed to be fighting himself, trying to pitch like a major-league veteran but not exactly knowing how. He and Carlos Santana had trouble getting on the same page, and that translated into several long innings. He became at times very deliberate (almost Beckett-esque), perhaps a reaction to earlier outings in which he got hit around because he was too aggressive with his fastball in the strike zone. He allowed four runs, none of them earned, but allowed 7 base runners in his five innings, and had to throw 95 pitches just to get through those. I don't think he's in any danger of losing his spot in the rotation just yet, as he has enough upside to justify the patience, and the Indians need to figure out what they have in Kluber.
After Kluber left, Frank Herrmann entered the contest. The big right-hander is trying to add a second quality pitch - a spike curve is his latest attempt at a secondary pitch - but it doesn't seem ready for prime time. He hung one to Chris Carter, and had trouble controlling it in general. He still throws in the mid-90s, but he's going to need a second pitch, because that fastball isn't good enough to throw by batters if they know it's the only pitch he can throw for strikes.
The A's would end up scoring four runs off the Indians bullpen, including two in the eighth off Chris Seddon. Those four runs would unexpectedly proved crucial, as the Indians would score four in the ninth, two on Choo's 15th home run, and two on yet another Brent Lillibridge homer. They would send 10 batters to the plate, and the A's would use three pitchers in the inning, but the deficit was just too large to overcome.