SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Santana remained in full uniform, his eye black still smeared across his cheeks. As his Indians teammates packed their bags and prepped for the trip home, Santana sat at his locker, head down, rubbing his hands together.
Cleveland was on its way to the win column until Santana was unable to cleanly corral a sharp chopper off Conor Gillaspie's bat in the eighth inning on Wednesday. On a road trip plagued by offensive shortcomings for the Tribe, an error like that can find its way under the microscope. That was the case in the wake of a tough 5-4 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.
"I know I made a mistake. I feel bad, because my team lost," Santana said. "At the last moment, the ball was a little bit up. That's why I made the mistake."
Santana's gaffe came with runners on first and second, one out and the Indians clinging to a 4-2 lead. Had the first baseman gloved the grounder from Gillaspie, he might have been able to begin an inning-ending double play. Instead, the ball skipped by Santana into right field, one run scored and -- two batters later -- Buster Posey came off the bench and delivered a two-run, go-ahead double.
It is easy to hone in on Santana's blunder, or the decision to pitch to Posey, or even the pitch that reliever Bryan Shaw threw to the Giants catcher for the game's decisive blow. The reality is that Cleveland's lack of lineup production throughout the team's 1-5 trek through Oakland and San Francisco forced the focus on specific moments.
Runs can cover up mistakes, and the Indians only managed 16 runs over the six games.
"When you're playing games like this," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "where every game is magnified, we have to play clean baseball."
The offense had its moments on Wednesday, but one of the better highlights was a nine-pitch walk in the third inning by pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who later made a textbook slide at the plate to score on a Michael Brantley single. Jose Ramirez also contributed a two-run single in the third and Santana chipped in an RBI single in the eighth.
It was a slight improvement over the one-run output in 10 innings on Tuesday, but it still was not enough. Over the six past six games, Cleveland hit .203 as a team with a .577 OPS. With runners in scoring position, including Wednesday's 3-for-13 showing, the Indians hit .148 with a .392 OPS in 54 at-bats.
"As a team, we're going to have some ups and downs," Carrasco said. "Everyone here. The 25 guys. It's going to happen. We're going to start fresh and get ready for the next series."
An off-day on Thursday will give the Tribe a chance to take a deep breath after a discouraging road trip.
Asked to sum up the six-game swing in the Bay Area, Shaw had a succinct reply.
"Long," he said.
"We'll keep fighting," Santana added. "It's the [first] six games in the second half. We'll forget it."