August 17, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Joe Smith (38) pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the seventh inning at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Duncan Slam Not Enough As Indians Drop Series Opener To Athletics 6-4

The Indians entered Friday’s contest with the Oakland Athletics hoping to improve on an impressive 25-13 record in series openers but it was not to be despite an early 4-0 lead care of a grand slam by Shelly Duncan. The A’s had trends of their own to build upon and once again they won a game by outscoring their opponent in the late innings.  The A’s were 10-5 when tied after 7 innings which was the case on Friday night with the scored tied at 4-4 but the A’s scored twice in the bottom of the 8th inning to give them a 6-4 lead. When leading after the 8 innings the A’s were 48-5 on the year and were able to improve on that mark to defeat the Indians 6-4.

Tommy Milone, making his first start in 12 days, went 5 innings giving up 4R/3ER on 6 hits while striking out 6 and walking 1 but the victory went to Jordan Norberto (4-1, 2.77) and Grant earned his 10th save of the season. With the victory the A’s move to 63-55 and now trail the Rangers by only 5 games in the AL West as the Texas Rangers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays by a final score of 3-2.  They also move to within ½ game of the second wild card spot which is now held by Baltimore and Detroit who are playing each other this weekend.

August 17, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher

Zach McAllister worked the first 6 innings allowing 4R/4ER on 8 hits while striking out 6 and walking 1 but  Joe Smith (7-1, 3.33) took the loss. The loss drops the Indians record to 54-65 and they now only lead the 4th place Kansas City Royals by 1.5 games.

The Indians took a 4-0 lead in the 4th inning thanks to a grand slam off the bat of Shelly Duncan that scored Carlos Santana who had walked to lead off the inning, Michael Brantley whose blooper landed safely between Yoenis Cespedes and shortstop Cliff Pennington (ruled an error), and a Jason Donald single.

Unfortunately, McAllister was unable to deliver a shut-down inning as the Athletics immediately responded with 3 runs in the bottom of the frame.  The inning began with a Chris Carter single and a walk to Brandon Moss which put runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out. After a Jonny Gomes strikeout Josh Donaldson doubled off the left field wall scoring Carter to cut the lead to 4-1. Derek Norris followed with a ground out to third that scored Moss for the A’s second run, which was followed by a Cliff Pennington two-out RBI single which scored Donaldson to cut the Tribes lead to 4-3.

The A’s erased the Indians lead in the bottom of the fifth inning after Yoenis Cespedes lined a one-out double and got himself into scoring position by stealing third base and came around to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chris Carter which tied the game at 4-4.

Joe Smith who had entered the game in relief of Tony Sipp in the bottom of the 7thinning remained in the game to begin the 8th. He issued a walk to Chris Carter and a single to Brandon Moss. With 2-on and nobody out  Vinnie Pestano was brought in to the game. Josh Reddick was pinch hitting for Jonny Gomes and  greeted Pestano with a single to load the bases.  Josh Donaldson delivered an RBI single to give the A’s a 5-4 lead.  The A’s extended the lead to 6-4 on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Cliff Pennington which scored Moss.

Source: FanGraphs

The Good: Jason Donald made his first major league start in left field (2nd appearance) and made several nice plays. In the second inning he played a ball hit off the wall by Derek Norris and made a nice turn and throw back into the infield to hold him to a single. In the fifth inning he raced into foul territory to make a nice sliding catch on a ball hit by Jemile Weeks.

The Bad: The home plate umpire was inconsistent and had a floating strike zone. When umpires are that inconsistent it isn’t a fun game to watch let alone pitch or hit.

The Huh?: Joe Smith did his job in retiring the tough Yoenis Cespedes to end the 7th inning. With Vinnie Pestano sitting in the bullpen not having worked since August 13th versus the Angels – why was Joe Smith brought out to begin the 8th inning? If any reliever has earned the right to work a clean inning it is Vinnie Pestano.

Interesting Tidbits: 

Shelly Duncan’s grand slam was the first of his career.

The stolen base by Cespedes in the fifth was the 10th stolen base off McAllister without a runner being caught.

Tags: Joe Smith Manny Acta Vinnie Pestano Zack McAllister

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