The Oakland A’s made a bold statement in Cleveland on Friday night, cruising to a 11-1 victory over the Indians, courtesy of the long ball. Zach McAllister had a brief but ugly outing, giving up eight runs in just over an inning. After retiring the first three batters of the game, McAllister gave up three walks and five hits in the second inning before being pulled after getting only one out. In stark contrast, Oakland starter Sonny Gray threw six strong innings, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out nine batters. The lone run for Cleveland came on a solo blast in the first inning by Nick Swisher, shortly before the game went off the rails for the Tribe.
Bottom of the 2nd, Indians lead 1-0
McAllister looked sharp in the first inning, but the A’s quickly solved him in the second. A leadoff double was followed by two singles, including Jed Lowrie’s RBI hit to tie the game. Derek Norris walked to load the bases, and McAllister promptly allowed Josh Reddick to crush a pitch to deep right field for a grand slam. Two walks later, Josh Donaldson blasted a three-run home run to deep left field. With the Tribe trailing 8-1, rookie reliever Kyle Crockett made his major-league debut. He walked his first batter, but then induced an inning-ending double play to end Oakland’s offensive explosion.
Swisher hit a home run, and Lonnie Chisenhall and Asdrubal Cabrera each had a pair of walks. There weren’t many “positive” moments in this game by either the lineup or the pitching staff, although C.C. Lee and Josh Outman each recorded scoreless appearances, and the team didn’t have to waste any of their key relievers to make it through the game. Michael Brantley also returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with back tightness.
McAllister couldn’t throw his pitches for strikes, and when he did manage to get the ball across the plate, hitters were able to square them up. Carlos Carrasco failed to record a scoreless relief appearance – again – giving up a two-run home run to Donaldson in the seventh inning. The offense did very little, although an early eight-run deficit usually tends to have that effect on a lineup. There were also two defensive errors – one apiece for Carlos Santana and Swisher.
Check It Out
– Kyle Crockett made his debut with the club on Friday night and gave up a solo home run to Jed Lowrie in the third inning. That’s the same number of home runs that he had given up in the entirety of his short minor league career. In fact, Crockett had only allowed two earned runs since being drafted by the Tribe last season. While the blowout loss was disappointing, it was also an ideal time to get the rookie’s first major league relief appearance out of the way.
– Josh Donaldson’s second inning blast was his 10th of the year. He had 24 home runs during his first full major league season in 2013, and is on pace to exceed that this year. According to Baseball-Reference, he also leads the American League with a 2.9 WAR. In 2013, he finished the season with an 8.0 WAR — second only to Angels superstar Mike Trout. Donaldson has become one of the league’s most underrated players.
– Before Friday’s game, Sonny Gray had the third lowest ERA in the American League, at just 2.17, and had struck out 19.5 percent of batters. He actually lowered his ERA to 2.10 after his outing in Cleveland. Even if McAllister hadn’t imploded to begin the game, Gray would have been a difficult opponent for Indians hitters.