The Indians’ bats finally woke up Thursday afternoon, but they couldn’t keep up with the Athletics’ as Justin Masterson got hammered and Oakland completed the four-game sweep with a 12-7 win over the Tribe. The loss—Cleveland’s fifth straight—drops the Indians to 55-76, 17.5 games out in the AL Central.
It was the Indians who drew first blood. Jason Kipnis started the game for Cleveland with a solo home run off Jarrod Parker to lead off the bottom of the first. The lead held until the third, when former Tribe outfielder Coco Crisp took Masterson deep for a solo shot of his own to tie the score at 1-1.
Things got out of hand in the top of the fourth. A Yoenis Cespedes single and walks to Seth Smith and Josh Donaldson loaded the bases with two outs for George Kottaras, who delivered with a three-run double. Four pitches later, Cliff Pennington capped the rally with a two-run home run to put Oakland up 6-1.
Jack Hannahan got the Indians a run back with his RBI single in the bottom of the fourth as the two teams began trading runs through the middle innings. The Tribe added a run in the fifth via Shin-Soo Choo‘s RBI groundout, then scored three in the sixth on Jason Kipnis’ bases-loaded walk and Choo’s two-run single. Cleveland’s bats capped the day with a Lou Marson RBI single in the seventh.
Unfortunately, the Indians weren’t the only ones scoring. The A’s scored two more against Masterson in the sixth, rocked Chris Seddon for a pair in the sixth, then got on the board against Tony Sipp and Chris Perez in the seventh and ninth, respectively. Cleveland’s offense couldn’t keep up as Oakland held on for a 12-7 win and the four-game series sweep.
The Good: Seven runs out of this offense? Sign me up! Jason Kipnis (2-for-4 with a home run, a double and a walk), Ezequiel Carrera (2-for-4 with a double and a walk), and Jack Hannahan (2-for-4 with a walk) all enjoyed multi-hit games.
The Bad: Justin Masterson has been the Indians’ only truly reliable starting pitcher since the All-Star Break, but even he couldn’t stop the Tribe’s slide. He struggled through one of his worst outings of the year, giving up eight runs (all earned) on eight hits in four-plus innings. He walked two batters against only one strikeout; worse still, he allowed three home runs.
The “Huh?”: Ezequiel Carrera is hitting .319 with an .870 OPS and a 136 wRC+. He’s an exciting young player who’s been playing terrific baseball since he got called up to the majors. Casey Kotchman is hitting .234 with a .643 OPS and a 78 wRC+. He’s not a very good hitter and he probably shouldn’t really be playing at all in place of the higher-upside Matt LaPorta. So why was Casey Kotchman hitting ahead of Ezequiel Carrera?
Interesting Tidbit: Thursday was the first time the Indians had scored more than six runs since August 5.