It wasn't pretty and there was very little to be excited about as the Indians fell to the Oakland Athletics, 6-3, last night in McAfee Coliseum. The Indians may have only managed 2 hits the previous night in a loss to Chicago, but the Tribe looked even less impressive in the series opener against the A's. It was an acid flashback to the forgettable 2006 campaign complete with bad defense, no clutch hitting and strikeouts. Lots and lots of strikeouts.
Paul Byrd struggled out of the gate allowing at least one base runner in each of the 5 innings he appeared in and at least 2 base runners in 4 of those 5 innings. He was able to weasel his way of of trouble without harm, as he did in 2007, in 3 of those five innings but a couple hit batsmen, a single and a passed ball gave the A's a 1-0 after 2 innings.
Byrd was unable to make it out of the fifth as a single, Jhonny Peralta error an another single loaded the bases with no out. Peralta's error was only the second worst defensive play of the inning as the next batter hit a slow roller to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. For reason unbeknown to man, the As-Man threw home when there was no chance of a play at the plate and it was 2-0 A's with still no one out. A sacrifice fly and 2 singles made it 5-0 before Jorge Julio came on to stop the bleeding.
The Indians has no answers on offense as the first 11 hitters that stepped to the plate made outs. Compounding their ineptitude, the Indians struck out TEN times in the game, many of them looking. Travis Hafner had two of them and looked awful in both plate appearances. Down 1-0, the Indians managed to get 2 on with 1 out int he fourth but Casey Blake hit into a double play to kill that rally. Even worse, after the Indians loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth and Oakland starter Justin Duchscrerer left with an injury Peralta swung at his kryptonite, the breaking pitch low and away and hit into a double play. Rally killed, game effectively over.
With no Victor Martinez and Hafner still struggling, the Indians offense has had trouble getting going the last two games. The only good thing is that's it's still early, Martinez is nearing a return and Hafner did look very Pronk-like with a 9th run jack. Grady Sizemore and Ryan Garko continue to hit but if no one drives in Sizemore and there is no one for Garko to drive in it's not gonna work.
Some random notes. Franklin Gutierrez is sick with the glove. The catch off the RF wall plus the sliding catch in the eighth. Sweet lord. If Sizemore ever needs a day off I have faith Frankie can get it done in CF. Jorge Julio looked a lot better in his second outing. He did himself in with a wild pitch but was effective otherwise. Nice debut by Craig Breslow with 1 1/3 innings of 1 hit, 1 BB work. The hit should've been an error on Garko but he worked out of it. Very un-Aaron Fultz-like. Well played.
The Indians are now 6-22 since 2001 in McAfee Coliseum. I somehow feel this is Browns' OT Nat Dorsey's fault. Anything bad that happens in Oakland is his fault, in my opinion, after he FORGET TO BLOCK on a game winning FG attempt in Oakland last year. How do you forget to block on a FG attempt?!? Please cut Nat Dorsey!
Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro preach winning series as the way to approach winning the division. It is a good strategy as if you always win 2 out of 3 that gives you 108 wins, the Tribe got 96 last year, which was nice. If they want to win this series the Tribe needs to wake up and win 2 in a row. Let's go, gentlemen.
It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.