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Indians go quietly in series finale vs. A's

Tribe struggles to find timely hits, drops third straight
@MandyBell02
May 22, 2019

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ offense has shown glimpses of its potential at different points this season, but the bats have yet to come together on a consistent basis. And while they were able to string together a few hits in Wednesday’s series finale against the A’s, the Tribe just couldn’t

CLEVELAND -- The Indians’ offense has shown glimpses of its potential at different points this season, but the bats have yet to come together on a consistent basis. And while they were able to string together a few hits in Wednesday’s series finale against the A’s, the Tribe just couldn’t secure the timely knock.

After being held scoreless through the first seven frames, including six by A’s starter Frankie Montas, Jake Bauers delivered a 450-foot two-run homer to get the Indians on the board, but it wasn’t enough to spark the offense in Cleveland’s 7-2 loss to Oakland at Progressive Field. It marked the first time the Indians were swept at home since June 23-25, 2017, against Minnesota.

Box score

“Once [Montas] would speed us up with his fastball, then he would go to that, whatever you call, change or split, whatever you want to call it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And it really gave us trouble. Especially when we’d get runners in scoring position, because that’s when he would go to it more. He starts pitching backward. That gave us a really tough time.”

The blast by Bauers was the Indians’ lone highlight of the day. According to Statcast, it was the longest Indians’ homer since Edwin Encarnacion hit a 452-foot bomb on Aug. 23, 2017.

Offense continues to sputter

The offense recorded eight hits, drew six walks and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Entering the afternoon, the Indians ranked 24th of all 30 clubs with a .241 batting average -- that dropped to .235 after Wednesday’s contest -- with runners in scoring position. Through 48 games, Cleveland is hitting .224, which is its lowest batting average at this point in the season since the Tribe hit .215 in 1910.

“If I had the magic potion, believe me, I’d give it to everybody,” Francona said. “The best thing I know is to not drag our heads, to not feel sorry for ourselves. Because nobody cares, especially the teams we’re playing. They’re probably thrilled.

“But we’ve got to keep grinding. And fortunately, I think we have some grinders. And we have some guys that can lead the way. And I’ve got to be front-and-center. I can’t be the one feeling sorry for anybody. We’ve got to get after it and keep getting after it and fight our way through it.”

Three of the top veteran leadership options for the Tribe are Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana. Lindor, who went 2-for-3 with two walks, has hit safely in 16 of his last 18 games, posting a .342 average with four homers and 9 RBIs in that span. Kipnis singled in the fifth to extend his on-base streak to 17 games. And Santana is hitting .429 with three homers, eight RBIs and 11 walks over his last seven games. But the Indians are still waiting for the hitting to become contagious throughout the entire lineup.

Rodriguez battles command issues

For a team that’s struggling to find its groove offensively, it’s even more of a challenge when it's put in an early hole. Indians starter Jefry Rodriguez was pulled after allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits through four innings. He walked a season-high four batters and recorded three strikeouts.

“I felt like I was struggling a little bit,” Rodriguez said through the team’s interpreter. “But I was competing with everything that I had and that’s what happened today.”

Since Shane Bieber tossed a complete game shutout on Sunday, the Indians haven’t gotten much depth from their starters. Carlos Carrasco went five innings on Monday, Trevor Bauer was pulled after six on Tuesday and Rodriguez worked just four on Wednesday, taxing a bullpen that just wrapped up its seventh game of an 18-game stretch without an off-day.

“Yeah, it gives me and [pitching coach] Carl [Willis] a lot of anxiety,” Francona said. “You’re certainly trying to take care of your starter, but you also know you’ve got to cover a certain amount of innings in your bullpen. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a bunch of anxiety.”

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