Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona is doing everything he can to find answers for his slumping ballclub, which may now have to play without its starting second baseman.
Jason Kipnis’ status is unclear and Zach McAllister will pitch on three days’ rest for the first time in his career Wednesday night as visiting Cleveland looks to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians (11-16) have been outscored 26-12 during a five-game losing streak that began when Carlos Carrasco had another shaky outing in a 5-1 loss to San Francisco on Friday.
Francona decided before Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to the Angels to move Carrasco, 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts, to the bullpen while moving McAllister up in the rotation.
Cleveland’s starting rotation ranks among the AL’s worst with 4.72 ERA.
”You try to do what you think is best for the players and the team and you balance that out," Francona said. "It’s just, for now, this is what we’re doing. We’re trying to balance a number of things.”
That also may include having to find a temporary replacement for Kipnis, who left in the fourth inning Tuesday with a right abdominal strain after grounding into a double play. Mike Aviles replaced Kipnis and went 2 for 2 with a run scored.
Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer after hitting a three-run shot in Monday’s 6-3 loss in the series opener, and finished with two hits and three RBIs for the second straight night. He entered this series batting .122 with one home run and three RBIs in 82 at-bats.
Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits Tuesday to snap an 0-for-14 slump.
McAllister (3-1, 3.14 ERA) will look to help end Cleveland’s skid. He had a 1.37 ERA while winning his previous three starts before allowing four runs in five innings of a 5-3 loss to San Francisco on Saturday.
The right-hander was solid through the first four innings and retired 12 in a row at one point before giving up all four runs in the fifth. He was removed after throwing a season-low 75 pitches, which may have also factored in Francona’s decision to bring him back on short rest.
McAllister has won his only two starts with a 2.92 ERA against the Angels (13-13), who have won three straight at home after starting 2-6. Erick Aybar went 4 for 5 on Tuesday, while Howie Kendrick and Chris Iannetta drove in two runs apiece.
Kendrick hit in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, becoming the fifth player manager Mike Scioscia has started at the top of the order.
”Scioscia’s not afraid to mix things up with our lineup. Howie’s a guy who’s done it in the past, and he doesn’t have any problem being in that situation,” Albert Pujols said.
Kendrick is 13 for 47 with two homers, 10 RBIs, four walks and eight runs scored when starting atop the lineup, and the Angels are 9-3 in those games.
C.J. Wilson will take the mound after giving up one run and four hits in six innings of Friday’s 13-1 win over the New York Yankees.
Wilson (3-2, 3.69) has been stellar against the Indians, going 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts since becoming a full-time starter for Texas in 2010. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any outing in that stretch.
The left-hander has had some trouble with Nick Swisher, who is 11 for 32 with a homer, triple, four doubles and seven walks off Wilson.
Santana is 3 for 17 with six strikeouts in their matchups.