No 'woe is me' for slumping Indians

Rough times continue with 7-inning no-hit loss in nightcap, Cleveland's 9th straight defeat

July 8th, 2021

The Indians’ losing streak continued in no-hit fashion (sort of).

In the second game of Wednesday’s straight doubleheader against the Rays at Tropicana Field, the Indians were unable to log a hit, falling, 4-0, to Tampa Bay. Because this year’s doubleheaders are made up of seven-inning games, this will not count as an official no-hitter, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Cleveland couldn’t log a hit in seven frames against Collin McHugh, Josh Fleming, Diego Castillo, Matt Wisler and Pete Fairbanks.

Cleveland’s losing streak extended to nine consecutive games, its longest stretch since 2012, when it lost nine straight from Aug. 14-24.

“Well, the one thing I know is the way not to is to kind of feel sorry for yourself and woe is me,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of how to escape this skid. “We certainly can’t do that. It’s a rough time for us. We’ll try to come out tomorrow with good energy. I know it’s hard to show energy when you’re just making right turns like today. We got to try to stay positive.”

The Indians had already been no-hit -- officially -- two times this season. No team has ever been no-hit three times in a season, including Cleveland, considering the seven-inning game does not count toward this feat.

The only time the Indians got close to putting a number in the hit column was on Oscar Mercado’s ground ball to the left side of the infield in the third, which was initially ruled a hit but was changed to an error after Wander Franco and Taylor Walls collided while attempting to field the ball. The Indians ran into a similar issue in the field later in the game as Owen Miller and Amed Rosario got tangled up on the left side of the infield, but the Rays were awarded a hit.

“I'm not gonna beat around the bush, I don't see how it's not [a hit],” Mercado said. “I get they crashed into each other. I don't see the difference between that and two outfielders crashing into each other. … I don't understand how you get charged with an error if you never touched the ball.”

“It's kind of hard to understand the one for them is a hit but ours is an error,” Francona said. “I’m guessing a couple days from now they’ll have to go back and uncelebrate that because they’ll probably change it. But that doesn’t change the fact of what the score was and what we did or didn’t do.”

Whether the team was one-hit or no-hit, the offense is far from where it wants and needs to be. Franmil Reyes has attempted to do his part since returning from the IL, with a five-RBI night on Monday and a homer in the quiet 8-1 loss in Game 1 of the doubleheader. Outside of that, the bats have been silent. The team entered Wednesday tied for last in the Majors over its previous seven losses with a .215 batting average, while owning the highest strikeout percentage at 28.6. That doesn’t include the club’s combined 4-for-46 effort with 16 strikeouts in the twin bill.

And while the offense has struggled to gain steam, the starting pitching hasn’t fared much better. With Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale on the injured list, the rotation hasn’t had an experienced arm to turn to. During this stretch, the rotation has collectively pitched to a 10.22 ERA (39 earned runs, 34 1/3 innings), putting all the pressure on the bullpen to keep the team afloat.

“We’re inexperienced in a lot of areas,” Francona said. “At the same time, you don’t want to lose sight of the fact of what we’re here for. Yeah, we’re here to develop, but we’re here to win. And so we just got to make sure we keep pulling in the same direction.”

The Indians eclipsed their halfway point of the season on Sunday and now sit eight games back of the first-place White Sox in the American League Central. With four games to go until the All-Star break, the team is hoping to turn momentum back in its favor before the division lead gets out of reach.

“It's just one of those times during the year where things get a little tough,” Mercado said. “We know we got a good ballclub and everyone believes in one another, so it's just a matter of getting that first win out of the way and get a little roll going. We understand it's not time to hit the panic button yet. … The team's record before this streak was good, and that was for a reason. I think we'll be all right.”