Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

A's fade after early power surge in Cleveland

Fowler, Olson led off first 2 innings with HRs; Oakland scored just 2 more runs
July 6, 2018

CLEVELAND -- The A's welcomed Indians starter Carlos Carrasco off the disabled list with some authoritative power on Friday night.But two early home runs from Dustin Fowler and Matt Olson weren't enough to build the necessary momentum to halt a hot Indians offense. Additionally, a subpar start from Paul Blackburn

CLEVELAND -- The A's welcomed Indians starter Carlos Carrasco off the disabled list with some authoritative power on Friday night.
But two early home runs from Dustin Fowler and Matt Olson weren't enough to build the necessary momentum to halt a hot Indians offense. Additionally, a subpar start from Paul Blackburn erased any chances of a victory, as the A's fell to the Tribe, 10-4, at Progressive Field.
The loss snaps a two-game win streak for the A's (48-40), who remain third in the American League West. The Indians (49-37) have won five in a row.
"We swung the bats well, we just couldn't get some runs with some guys on base," manager Bob Melvin said. "But other than that, we kept putting pressure on -- we took the lead, then got behind. Put pressure on, we just couldn't get one more big hit to get us back in it."
Fowler led the game off by sending a 2-1 fastball deep into the right-field stands to put the A's on the board. The homer -- which nearly reached the right-field concourse -- marked Fowler's sixth of the season. Carrasco also fell behind Olson to lead off the second inning, resulting in the first baseman ripping a 434-foot shot to the shrubbery in straightaway center, for his 19th of the year to give the A's a 2-0 lead. Per Statcast™, the 3-1 offering from Carrasco was hit with a 109.8-mph exit velocity, a 27-degree launch angle and a 100 percent hit probability.

Blackburn (2-3) tamed the Indians a week ago in his most recent start -- he held the Tribe to three hits in 6 1/3 shutout innings in the A's 3-1 win. However, the 24-year-old right-hander was suboptimal facing Cleveland once again. He went four-plus innings and allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits.
"Early on, [Blackburn] looked really good, in the first inning," Melvin said. "And then, he just got some balls in the middle of the plate, had trouble pitching in, and [faced] a pretty hot-hitting team. When they get on a roll, they get a lot of momentum and string a lot of hits together."
The unearned run was given up in the second inning, after a throwing error from Jonathan Lucroy eventually allowed Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion to score on a Jason Kipnis single.
Consistency has come at a premium for Blackburn this season. Through six starts, he's yet to string together two consecutive quality starts. Against the Indians in his career before Friday, he had a 2.19 ERA through 12 1/3 innings. The outing bumped his season ERA from 6.46 to 7.16.
Things started to fall apart for Blackburn when the Tribe put up a three-run third. Blackburn retired Greg Allen to start the frame, but three straight hits from the top of the order -- including back-to-back doubles from Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez -- opened the door for Encarnacion to cap the inning with a sacrifice fly to left.
"I felt good, [but] in that third inning, I didn't execute," Blackburn said. "I had a couple breaking balls in the dirt and it came back to really hurt me. It's definitely frustrating."
Blackburn returned to the mound to start the fifth, but was taxed for two more runs before getting pulled without recording an out. He gave up a single to Lindor and an RBI double to Brantley. Blackburn's final run was charged after Brantley was plated on another sac fly from Encarnacion.
The A's only pushed three runs across against Carrasco -- who made his first start since coming off the disabled list with a right elbow contusion sustained after getting struck by a line drive on June 16 against the Twins -- despite getting him for seven hits in 5 1/3.

"We're a good hitting team," said Fowler, who finished 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs. "[Almost] every inning, we had a chance to produce a run, so it was frustrating. [Carrasco] was really good, so he's good at doing his job. We did the best we could to get some runs on the board and just fell short."
Stranded runners: 
Before the Indians put up four runs in the seventh, the A's came close to tying the game in the top half of the inning. Mark Canha doubled in Matt Chapman, who led the inning off with a single, to make it a 6-4 game, and Jed Lowrie walked to load the bases for Khris Davis. Davis was able to work a 2-2 count before striking out on a foul tip from an 85.7-mph slider at the top of the zone to end the threat.

Though Davis finished 1-for-4 with three strikeouts, the DH extended his hitting streak to eight games, hitting .355 (11-for-31) in that span.
"I'm really impressed with [Davis'] at-bats right now, showing us he doesn't have to do it with a home run," Melvin said pregame. "If you watch him take BP, he takes the ball the other way, he has some bat control, his power is ... crazy off the charts. He has the chance to become a more complete hitter the more experience he gets, and he's showing that right now."
Olson nearly ignited a scoring threat in the sixth inning after Carrasco was taken out of the game. He clubbed a one-out hit down the right-field line, and while running to second base, Indians right fielder Tyler Naquin fired a throw to Francisco Lindor, who tagged Olson just late, according to second-base umpire Eric Cooper. The play was reviewed after the Indians challenged, and it was revealed that Lindor's tag was still applied while Olson briefly stepped off the bag. The safe call was overturned, but Olson was still credited with a double.

Olson went 2-for-4 and has hit in all four games against the Indians this season-- hitting .333 (5-for-15) with two home runs, three doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored.
Olson's 39 home runs since Aug. 11, 2017, are the fourth-most in the Majors, trailing only J.D. Martinez (49), Aaron Judge (41) and Giancarlo Stanton (41).
Veteran right-hander Edwin Jackson (1-0, 2.13 ERA) will make his third start of the season on Saturday, for a 1:10 p.m. PT start time at Progressive Field. Jackson picked up a win against the Indians in his start last Saturday, in which he gave up two runs on two hits through 6 2/3 innings. Cleveland will counter with ace Corey Kluber (12-4, 2.64 ERA).

** Casey Harrison ** is a reporter for based in Cleveland.