CarGo homers in return, but Rockies fall in opener
Rockies fan season-high 15 times in loss to Tribe
CLEVELAND -- First, Rockies starter Juan Nicasio's Friday night blew up when he gave up four fifth-inning runs. Then Michael Cuddyer blew his top in the sixth inning on a called third strike.
Finally, even manager Walt Weiss couldn't take it anymore.
On yet another difficult night on a rough road trip -- a 5-2 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field in front of 25,066 -- Weiss emerged from the dugout to help third-base coach Stu Cole de-escalate Cuddyer's argument with home plate umpire John Tumpane.
But Weiss stayed for a few more words and earned an ejection -- the first in his 216th game as the Rockies' manager. It was an early treat for the Fireworks Night crowd.
In a calmer postgame moment, Weiss said he was simply trying to keep Cuddyer from being ejected. But sometimes it helps to go insane at a crazy time.
The loss dropped the Rockies to 2-5 with two games left on what will be the longest road trip of the season, clearly in more ways than one. Part of what made Friday seem so long was the performance of Indians right-hander Corey Kluber (5-3), who struck out 12 in 7 1/3 innings. The Rockies, losers of 10 of their last 13 road games, struck out 15 times -- surpassing the previous season high of 12 on May 13 at Kansas City.
"We just show up and try to compete well every day," a cooled-down Weiss said after the game. "That's what we do. That's what we've done. Once in a while you run into a hot pitcher like we did with Kluber tonight. Stay the course, keep battling. We're a good offensive club, but we got shut down by a good pitcher tonight."
As if he and the Rockies know the baseball universe is paying them back for an insanely hot offensive performance in April, not even Cuddyer would admit to frustration.
"If we win these next two games, we're one game under on a tough road trip," Cuddyer said. "There's nothing to be ashamed of with that. Then you get to go home for 10.
"So we've got to battle back tomorrow, figure out a way to win, figure out a way to win on Sunday, have a nice day off, enjoy Denver and go out and win at home."
The Rockies took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Carlos Gonzalez, healthy after fouling a pitch off his right calf Tuesday night in Philadelphia and missing the next start, homered into the right-field seats. It was Gonzalez's eighth homer of the season, and his first since May 7.
But Nicasio, who had given up a first-inning run but was smooth for the next three innings, was hit hard in the fifth. David Murphy doubled to lead it off, then Jesus Aguilar smashed a pitch to center -- but Charlie Blackmon made a leaping catch while crashing into the wall.
Michael Bourn singled Murphy home to tie the game. Asdrubal Cabrera, who entered the game struggling at .246, launched his fourth homer of the season into the right-field stands. Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall doubled, with the latter driving in a run, and Nicasio was gone, with five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"Today, I made a lot of good pitches, but in the fifth inning I left my fastball up in the zone," Nicasio said. "Like we said before, I made one mistake with that pitch to Carbrera and I paid for that."
The Rockies were 4-1 in his previous five starts.
"Of course you want every pitcher to go out there and be lights-out every time," Weiss said. "It's not going to happen, but I think Juan is progressing that way. He's put together a bunch of good starts. He just had the one tough inning tonight."
Although Kluber's strikeout of Cuddyer touched off much disgust from the Rockies, they are far from the first to fan against Kluber. He struck out 60 in May, which is the most by a Major League pitcher in a month since the Rangers' Yu Darvish fanned 64 in August, 2013. It was the most in May since Curt Schilling struck out 62 in 2002 for the D-Backs.
"Even his fastball at 95 [MPH] had movement, and he'd throw it right off the plate and it would be a ball," said Corey Dickerson, who managed a fifth-inning double but also suffered two of his three strikeouts against Kluber. "Then he'd throw that cutter back over the plate. He kept everybody off-balance. His stuff is above-average."
In Indians history, Kluber's strikeouts were the most in a month since Dennis Eckersley struck out 60 in September, 1972. It was the 19th time an Indians pitcher struck out at least 60 in a month. Hall of Famer Bob Feller and Sam McDowell each did it eight times, and Eckersley and Herb Score also did it once.
In the here and now, Kluber's work helped the Indians end their losing streak at four games.
"Honestly, I don't think about whether we're on a winning streak or losing streak when I go out there," Kluber said. "I'm just trying to go out and pitch a good game and give our team a chance to win each time out."