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Seesaw outing sinks Plesac, Tribe vs. Reds

Right-hander yields 3 solo blasts, reels off stretch of 13 straight retired
@MandyBell02
June 12, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Zach Plesac could hide the fact that he’s actually human for only so long. After getting off to a hot start to his young career, becoming just the fourth Indians pitcher since 1908 with two runs or fewer allowed as a starter in each of his first three

CLEVELAND -- Zach Plesac could hide the fact that he’s actually human for only so long.

After getting off to a hot start to his young career, becoming just the fourth Indians pitcher since 1908 with two runs or fewer allowed as a starter in each of his first three games, the 24-year-old labored at the big league level for the first time in the Indians’ 7-2 loss to the Reds on Wednesday at Progressive Field. The defeat snapped a five-game win streak against Cincinnati, dating back to July 11, 2018.

Box score

Fresh off a 111-pitch outing his last time on the mound, Plesac’s afternoon started on a rough note, giving up a leadoff homer to Nick Senzel before Joey Votto went back-to-back to put the Tribe in an early 2-0 hole. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time that the Indians gave up homers to the first two batters in a home game in franchise history. The last time they did it on the road was June 12, 2018, exactly one year ago from Wednesday.

“I thought maybe his last start took a little out of him,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He had never been out to 110 [pitches] before under Major League circumstances. We tried to take that into account and get him out at like 80-something. … But I don’t think anybody’s going to question his toughness or his competitiveness.”

“I was in a battle from the beginning,” Plesac said. “I felt good. I was just getting around some sliders a little bit. That might be why [Francona] could think that. You know, that’s what kinda happens when you get tired; you kinda pull off some pitches and spin them, and they don’t do the action you want them to do. Today, I had a problem doing that, just pulling off some of those sliders that I left in the zone, and when I did that, they made damage to them.”

But Plesac was able to settle in after the two home runs, retiring the next 13 batters.

“Yeah, that’s the first time it’s ever happened [to me],” Plesac said. “You know, it’s just, ‘Get back to it and lock back in.’ I battled a full count [against Votto] and had to throw, execute a pitch in the zone. I didn’t want to walk him, and he was ready and turned on it and got it over the fence. It was a good at-bat. He came ready to swing, and then I locked back in after that at-bat.”

After the 13 straight outs, he ran into trouble.

In the fifth, Plesac gave up one run on two doubles and walked a batter. He gave up another homer to start the sixth, followed by another walk and his own throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Plesac was then pulled after 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits -- three homers -- with two walks and six strikeouts, but the Reds weren’t done doing damage. Nick Goody gave up a solo shot to Curt Casali in the seventh and Jose Iglesias doubled in two in the eighth off A.J. Cole.

“Every day I’m learning, really,” Plesac said. “Just taking that outing and looking at the things that affected me negatively and I’m gonna take it into tomorrow, my preparation moving forward this week, and work on those things and be ready next outing.”

The Tribe’s bats were held relatively silent, scoring on a Mike Freeman groundout in the second before Carlos Santana hit his team-leading 14th homer of the season in the eighth to cut the deficit to five. It was Cleveland’s 12th loss by at least five runs this season. The Indians had lost by five or more runs 18 times in all of 2018, 11 times in ‘17 and 20 times in ‘16.

The Tribe finished up its homestand 5-3, taking two of three against the Twins and Yankees and one of two against the Reds.

“We move on pretty quickly,” Francona said. “I don’t think [looking back on the homestand] is productive. If it was productive, I’d do it. I think we’re competing. We make some mistakes. But as long as they keep playing and trying to get better, we have to do that. And we will.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.