CLEVELAND — Zach McAllister began the year as the Indians’ best pitcher in the rotation. Now he is struggling mightily.
McAllister had his shortest outing the majors, giving up eight runs in 1 1/3 innings as the Indians were hammered 11-1 by the Athletics on Friday at Progressive Field in the start of a six-game homestand.
In his first four outings, McAllister was 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA. In his last five, he is 0-4 with a 8.72 ERA.
"I fell behind and they put balls into play and did damage," McAllister said. "I know I haven’t pitched my best. You have peaks and valleys and have to get back up to that middle ground."
It didn’t start out like it was going to be a disastrous night for McAllister. He struck out the side in the first on 16 pitches as Terry Francona said McAllister’s breaking ball that inning was some of the best he’s seen from him.
In the second though, McAllister didn’t have any command. The first five hitters reached base with the lethal blow being a grand slam to right by Josh Reddick on a 1-0 fastball.
After McAllister got a ground out, he gave up a pair of walks before Josh Donaldson deposited a full-count curveball into the left-field porch to make it 8-1.
"He lost feel for his offspeed pitch and locating his fastball and it created a really tough inning," Francona said. "In the second you want to give a guy a chance to gather himself. Even if you go four not in your bullpen in the second but it was not happening tonight."
Through eight starts, McAllister is 3-4 with a 5.36 ERA, which would be fifth-highest in the American League among pitchers that have made eight or more starts.
"I said something to him during the game that he is going to have to be strong enough to look at the numbers right now," Francona said. "They’re not where he wants them to be but he has to remember how good he is. Stay in the moment and go to the next game. Have to be strong enough mentally that he is a good pitcher and take awhile to get ERA down."
The Indians’ offense wasn’t exactly stellar as they were held to three hits with the lone run coming on a Nick Swisher solo shot to right in the first inning. That was the only good thing about Swisher’s night as he struck out in his next three at-bats and had his fifth error.