CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians’ extended string of futility took another downward turn Monday night.
Cleveland lost for the 24th time in 29 games, dropping a 3-0 decision to Oakland, a skid that has seen a team which was in contention in the AL Central a month ago sustain a collapse in all areas of the game.
The Indians have been held scoreless in 36 of their last 39 innings over the last five games. Cleveland managed two hits off three Oakland pitchers, the first of which came when umpire Jerry Meals clearly missed a call at first base in the fifth inning that gave Michael Brantley an infield single.
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Brett Anderson gave up two hits in seven innings, the second coming on Brent Lillibridge’s leadoff double in the sixth.
“It was not a good matchup for us,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We knew it going in, a guy like Anderson, a left-handed pitcher with a good breaking ball. He overmatched our guys.”
The news wasn’t any better on the pitching front. Roberto Hernandez, making his third start of the season and first at Progressive Field, left the game in the third inning with a sprained right ankle.
The pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona was reinstated earlier this month from a three-week suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for using the assumed name. Hernandez was arrested in his native Dominican Republic in January when he tried to have his visa renewed. He was placed on the restricted list and was finally granted a visa in July.
With runners on second and third, one out and a 1-1 count on Seth Smith, Hernandez motioned catcher Lou Marson to the mound. The two spoke for a moment and Marson went back behind the plate. Acta walked to the mound and was soon joined by the entire Indians infield and plate umpire Scott Barry. Acta motioned to the dugout and left-hander Chris Seddon came in from the bullpen.
“He wanted to stay out there, but that’s not the right thing to do if you can’t push off the back leg,” Acta said.
Acta said trainer Lonnie Soloff doesn’t think the injury is serious, but it’s not known if Hernandez will miss his next start.
Hernandez (0-3) walked to the dugout with Oakland leading 2-0. He threw 68 pitches in just 2 1-3 innings, allowing four hits and three runs. Hernandez threw 28 pitches in the first, including 13 to Yoenis Cespedes, who fouled off eight straight at one point. Cespedes then doubled off the wall in left field.
Anderson, in his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery in July 2011, retired the first 13 batters. Brantley tapped a slow roller to the right of the mound with one out in the fifth that was fielded by first baseman Chris Carter. He flipped to second baseman Cliff Pennington, whose foot hit first base an instant before Brantley got there, but Meals ruled safe. TV replays showed that Meals missed the call.
Manager Bob Melvin briefly argued with Meals. Anderson (2-0) then got Shelley Duncan to hit into a double play.
“There were four people at the base at once and a cloud of dust,” Anderson said. “Just too many people at the wrong time, but it would have been interesting to see how it played out.”
Meanwhile, it appears there’s no end in sight for the Indians’ skid.
“It’s frustrating,” third baseman Jason Donald said. “It’s not enjoyable losing ballgames like this. It seems like it keeps piling on right now.”
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, in a 1-for-19 skid, was given the night off.
“He’s banged up,” Acta said of Cabrera. “He looks a little tired.”
NOTES: 2B Jason Kipnis stole a career-high three bases Sunday, the first Indian since Grady Sizemore in 2008 to so do. He has 26 in 31 attempts for the season. “He does a tremendous job reading pitchers, especially against lefties,” Acta said. … Kipnis has joined Angels rookie OF Mike Trout as the only players with at least 10 homers, 60 RBIs and 25 steals. … The second of the four-game series continues Tuesday night when RHP Zach McAllister meets LHP Tommy Millone. … Acta hopes LHP Rafael Perez, who He has appeared in only eight games, will pitch again this season. Perez went on the DL with a strained lat on April 26 and sprained his ankle two weeks ago.