Three up, three down: Tribe can’t give teams extra opportunities
CLEVELAND — For the first three games in Houston, the Indians looked like a crisp fielding team. Somewhere on the flight to Cleveland, they reverted to last year’s form as the worst fielding team in the majors.
It is difficult enough to keep a team at bay when you allow 18 hits, but the Indians also allowed the Tigers to have extra opportunities due to errors. All of that added up to an 8-4 loss in Friday’s home opener.
"It’s deflating. We fought hard and but it was not our game in the end," said outfielder David Murphy. "They got the lead and continued to tack on."
After spring training, there remained some concerns about the infield, but most of Friday’s lapses were from the outfield and pitching staff. The Indians were charged with one error, but there were gaffes throughout the game that led to four Detroit runs.
In the second, miscommunication between Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley on a Jose Iglesias fly ball led to a single that kept the inning alive. One batter later, Anthony Gose singled to drive home Detroit’s first run.
When asked about that play, manager Terry Francona said that both players called for it, with Brantley charging late but that neither one could get out of the way.
The Indians scored three in the sixth to get within 5-3, but the Tigers tacked on three in the seventh to put it out of reach. Yeonis Cespedes, who led off the inning with a single, made a heads-up play in advancing to second on an Nick Castellanos fly ball when Michael Bourn didn’t anticipate him tagging up. Cespedes advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when an Iglesias grounder went off Marc Rzepczynski’s leg for an infield single.
Iglesias would then score all the way from first when Rzepczynski threw it up the right-field line when throwing to first on a Gose grounder. Gose then scored on an Ian Kinsler triple instead of the Indians being out of the inning.
"We talked about it all spring if they hit a ball 40-50 feet you have to get an out. That one really hurt," Francona said.
Among other down spots from Friday’s game:
Zach McAllister’s struggles: The right-hander allowed five runs and 13 hits in four-plus innings. It is the most hits that an Indians’ starter has allowed since Justin Masterson gave up 13 hits against Toronto on July 30, 2010. The first 11 hits were singles.
McAllister said he had problems locating his curveball, which had been an effective pitch for him all spring.
"My cutter was good, which I was able to use for strikes and soft contract. To not have that third pitch though can make things tough," he said. "I threw a couple pitches in the first and second that was disappointing as far as execution that were not in the right place."
After Friday’s outing and with the Tribe needing a fifth starter only once until April 22, McAllister is likely headed to the bullpen.
Detroit’s middle does damage: Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Cespedes combined to go 9-for-20.
Progressive Field’s New Look: The right-field district got rave reviews from fans, with The Corner bar packed from the time the gates opened until last pitch.
Leading off: Michael Bourn had two singles and has hit safely in three straight games. He also has five hits in his last 13 at-bats. The only thing Bourn hasn’t done yet is steal a base as he was caught stealing during the first inning.
A gem on Saturday: Corey Kluber will take on David Price in a matchup of the top two strikeout pitchers in the American League. Price had 271 strikeouts to Kluber’s 269.