Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta has tried everything to get his team out of its first extended skid of the season.
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So far, nothing has worked.
Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Texas ended a miserable weekend for the Indians, who absorbed a four-game sweep by the Rangers. Cleveland has lost four straight for the first time this season and has dropped nine of 12 overall.
A lack of offense has been Cleveland’s biggest problem. The Indians were shut out in the last two games of the series against the Rangers and have scored only two runs in the last 29 innings. Acta has moved hitters down in the batting order and given struggling players days off, but the results have remained the same.
”There’s only so many combinations of lineups you can do when you have only a couple of guys swinging the bat well,” Acta said. ”You can’t hit (Michael) Brantley and (Asdrubal) Cabrera in every spot.”
The Rangers twice turned double plays on Indians veteran Orlando Cabrera, who was moved into the second spot in Cleveland’s order. Acta dropped Asdrubal Cabrera, who is batting .301, down one spot to No. 3 and Shin-Soo Choo, mired in a 4-for-25 slide, was sixth in the lineup after getting Saturday off. Grady Sizemore, who came off the disabled list last week, had Sunday off.
Brantley, who is hitting .282, and Matt LaPorta had leadoff singles for Cleveland, and Carlos Santana had a one-out double in the seventh for its only other hit.
LaPorta maintains the Indians aren’t pressing.
”Adversity happens,” he said. ”We’re going to come through it.”
The Progressive Field magic that helped the Indians become one of the best stories in baseball over the season’s first two months also has disappeared. Cleveland has lost six in a row at home, where it opened the season 19-4, a stretch that included a 14-game winning streak.
The Indians’ lead in the AL Central over Detroit has been cut to 2 1/2 games. Cleveland, which held a 3-0 lead after four innings in the opener of the series Thursday night, was outscored 24-3 the rest of the way.
”There’s no other way to describe it,” Acta said. ”These guys came in and outplayed us. They have a very good team and they showed us why they’re the American League champs. They’re talented up and down. They’re very deep too. The title is probably going to have to run through Texas again.”
The latest loss produced a familiar pattern. C.J. Wilson pitched into the eighth inning, Mitch Moreland and Elvis Andrus homered, and the Rangers completed their first four-game sweep in Cleveland in nearly 33 years.
Mitch Talbot (2-2) gave his team a chance to win, but the offense couldn’t overcome the two home runs. Moreland hit his eighth homer with one out in the second inning. Andrus hit his third leading off the third.
Talbot gave up eight hits in six-plus innings. He left after issuing two walks to open the seventh. Joe Smith got out of the jam when Adrian Beltre hit into an inning-ending double play.
”I felt pretty strong the whole game,” Talbot said. ”There aren’t many holes in that lineup. They have some guys who can swing the bat.”
”Mitch did a fantastic job,” Acta said. ”He gave us everything we needed.”
Wilson (6-3) allowed three hits over 7-2/3 innings. The left-hander, coming off a 10-strikeout performance over 6-2/3 innings in a no-decision at Tampa Bay, fanned seven, walked two and hit a batter.
Darren Oliver struck out the only batter he faced to end the eighth and Neftali Feliz finished the three-hitter for his 13th save in 16 chances.
NOTES: Indians rookie RHP Vinnie Pestano said his back still feels a little stiff. Pestano came on in relief Saturday, but left without throwing a pitch. … Indians 3B Jack Hannahan also reported he was doing better, but missed his third game with a strained left hamstring. Acta said both players would probably be ready Monday night when the Indians open a three-game series against Minnesota. … Cleveland has lost 16 of 19 to Texas since the start of the 2009 season.