The Indians were routed 13-3 by the Athletics this afternoon, falling to their fourth straight defeat and getting swept in the three game-series. It was a miserable day for Tribe fans on every level, as the pitching was terrible, the defense was terrible, and the hitting was terrible.
Indians starter Justin Masterson lasted just 4.1 innings and was pretty awful by all accounts. His control demons reared their ugly heads again as they are wont to do with Masterson from time to time, as he walked 5 guys in his short outing. We know Justin has a history of walking batters but he always compensated for it by keeping the ball down and getting those precious groundball outs. That hasn't been the case this year at all, and those walks are coming back to haunt him. If Masterson wasn't busy missing the plate then he was grooving his pitches right down the middle and the A's took full advantage, getting solid contact on everything. That can probably be attributed to his well-documented velocity issues of late, and when you combine that with his walks, it makes for a bad day at the office for Justin.
Masterson finished with 7 hits surrendered for 7 runs, with 5 walks and 1 strikeout. It was another disappointing performance from our ace and the Indians' decision not to offer a contract extension in the off-season is looking like a wise decision right now. It's still early and Masterson has plenty of time to right his sinking ship, but at the moment he'll be lucky to receive a qualifying offer from the club come the end of the season.
Once again the Indians pitching staff got very little help from their defense, as the Tribe collected more errors to ensure they remain top of the MLB leaderboard for most errors committed. They are currently without doubt the worst defensive team in the league. Lonnie Chisenhall threw one right over Nick Swisher's head in the first inning, as the ball was nowhere near first base, allowing the A's to score on the play. Swisher let one bobble through his legs in the seventh inning to allow John Jaso to reach base, and again the A's made Cleveland pay when a Josh Reddick double scored Jaso to further extend Oakland's already insurmountable lead. The Indians defense have been unacceptably woeful this season and their clumsy ways don't look like disappearing anytime soon.
Oakland starter Jesse Chavez stymied the Tribe offense, allowing just 2 runs, but credit must go to our boys for at least making him work. Chavez threw 109 pitches over 5 innings and didn't last as long as the A's would have liked. Unfortunately the Indians lineup, Michael Brantley and Michael Bourn excluded, couldn't string enough hits together to do any real damage against Chavez and couldn't keep the Indians in the game. The story of the series was the Tribe's inability to hit with runners in scoring position and it continued today. Ryan Raburn struggled in particular, wasting a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth inning, as he finished the days with 3 strikeouts.
Yet again the Indians relied heavily upon Brantley, who has been exemplary in 2014. Brantley smashed his 8th home run of the season in the sixth inning, a long solo homer into the right field stands. He picked up 2 RBI on the day, as well as 2 walks, as he remains a difficult out for opposition pitchers. David Murphy continued to swing a hot bat as well, collecting 3 hits on the day.
Tomorrow the Indians welcome - huge gulp - the AL Central-leading Tigers to Progressive Field for a three-game series. Detroit have already stretched their lead to 9.5 games at the time of writing, and it would be in Cleveland's best interest to at least be competitive in this upcoming series if they ever want to stand a chance at catching their division rivals. Monday's game will see Corey Kluber face off against Drew Smyly, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 ET.
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