CLEVELAND -- The door was open for the Indians' offense to fight all the way back Monday night at Progressive Field, but an uncharacteristic off-night from the Tribe's bullpen put the game out of reach in the ninth inning.
The Tribe sent Tyler Clippard to the mound to start the top half of the final frame to keep the Indians within one run of the A’s, but the 34-year-old gave up a two-run homer to Matt Chapman that proved to be the difference in Oakland’s 6-4 victory at Progressive Field after Francisco Lindor launched a solo homer in the bottom half of the ninth.
"That’s a team that’s not going to quit and we needed every run we [could] get,” Chapman said. “Fortunately, I was able to get [us] some insurance runs. Those were huge, especially with Lindor and the top of the lineup coming up.”
Carrasco falls flat
Entering the night, Cleveland’s bullpen ERA (2.85) ranked second in the Majors, trailing just the Astros. But after Carlos Carrasco got off to a slow start, allowing three runs on seven hits through five innings on 100 pitches, the bullpen gave up three more runs. The first came on Chapman's RBI single off Dan Otero in the seventh before Clippard gave up what became the deciding blast in the ninth.
“I saw in the third inning that there was a lot of pitches,” Carrasco said. “So I worried about myself because we’re going to have like 18 games in a row. So I just wanted to go deep in the game so we could not use that bullpen too much.”
Carrasco gave up a second-inning homer to Jurickson Profar that snapped his scoreless-innings streak at 13. The right-hander also issued a walk for the first time in 77 batters in the first inning, granting a free pass to Matt Olson.
“I don't know what was wrong with him,” Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. “First inning, he was throwing 95 [mph] and then he was throwing 90, 91. I haven't had the chance to talk to him. But he battled. He gave us five strong innings. Two solo homers. So I thought he threw the ball well. He didn't have his velocity after the first inning but he gave us all he had and I thought he threw the ball well.”
“I mean, 100 pitches in five innings, a lot of deep counts,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It just seemed like his stuff was a little flatter tonight than normal. He just didn’t have a lot of life on his fastball. When he’s good, he’s got that good life on his fastball, then he can go to his off-speed off of that. He had a lot of close misses and just ran a ton of deep counts.”
Carrasco suffered his first loss at home since Sept. 2 against Tampa Bay.
“I didn’t feel the way that I felt in my last game,” Carrasco said. “But it’s something I need to work on for [my] next start on Saturday and we go from there.”
Perez heating up
After the Indians’ bats exploded throughout the four-game series against the Orioles over the weekend, they took some time to get rolling against Oakland, delivering only one hit through the first four innings. But Oscar Mercado got the Tribe on the board with an RBI single in the fifth before Roberto Pérez launched his sixth homer of the season to lead off the seventh, cutting the Indians’ deficit to two.
“To be honest, just not trying to do too much at the plate,” Perez said. “I'm just trying to go up there, try to be aggressive with a plan and trying to hit those mistakes, and I've been able to do that for the past month and stay within myself, trusting my hands and going the other way.”
Over his last six contests, Perez is batting .286 with three homers and six RBIs.
“At the beginning of the season, it was tough for him, like [for] a lot of our guys,” Francona said. “But he stayed at it and now that he’s hitting the ball to right field, it makes him a much more dangerous hitter. He’s probably never gonna be a .300 hitter, but when he sits back there down at the bottom of the order ... he’s got pop to all fields and he can walk. When he uses right field, it just creates more pitches for him to hit and he’s a better hitter.”