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Loud sun, quiet bats hurt Tribe in loss to A's

Cleveland goes 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position
July 8, 2018

CLEVELAND -- Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor held his glove to the sky, doing his best to block out the sun as the fly ball that shot off Mark Canha's bat flew in his direction. It was no use. The baseball found the outfield grass for an improbable first-inning single in

CLEVELAND -- Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor held his glove to the sky, doing his best to block out the sun as the fly ball that shot off Mark Canha's bat flew in his direction. It was no use. The baseball found the outfield grass for an improbable first-inning single in Sunday afternoon's 6-0 loss to the A's at Progressive Field.
It was just that kind of day for the Tribe.
Indians rookie Shane Bieber was victimized by some bad luck behind him and an ill-timed home run. Compounding matters for Cleveland was a stellar showing from Oakland lefty Brett Anderson, who came off the disabled list and hardly looked worse for wear in his five-plus shutout frames.
"He's a good pitcher," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Anderson. "He's been hurt a lot, but he knows how to pitch. We had a couple real good opportunities, but didn't do anything with it. Give him some credit. I don't think we made very good adjustments today, but I think sometimes you give the pitcher some credit, for sure."

The loss helped the A's to a series win and marked the first back-to-back home defeats for the American League Central-leading Tribe since June 15-16 against the Twins.
Bieber picked up the first loss of his young big league career after being charged with four runs on eight hits in six innings for Cleveland. The right-hander ended with seven strikeouts and one walk in the 98-pitch effort.
"If he's not perfect early, he seems to pitch himself into really getting more comfortable," Francona said. "He's what, five or six starts into his Major League career? And he gave up four [runs] and it seems like he didn't pitch real well. I think he's OK. He's going to be a good one."

Bieber allowed the sun-aided single to Canha in the first, and then yielded an RBI double to Khris Davis two batters later. In the second, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion made a diving attempt at a sharp two-out grounder from Dustin Fowler, but he could not corral it cleanly to get a throw to Bieber at the bag in time. That allowed another run to score to spot the A's a 2-0 lead.

In the sixth inning, Stephen Piscotty launched a two-run home run off Bieber -- the second homer in as many games for the outfielder -- to help push the A's into the win column. Following Bieber's exit, Jed Lowrie belted his 16th home run of the year off reliever Dan Otero to pad Oakland's lead.
"I've just got to get better," Bieber said. "It's something to learn from. I felt pretty good overall. I executed a lot of good pitches, but up here, if you make those mistakes, whether it's a few times or a few too many times, they're going to take advantage of it. I just need to be better." 
Anderson, on the other hand, cruised against the Indians in his first start since May 18. The left-hander entered the game with a 7.63 ERA in four outings this season and was returning from a left shoulder strain. Anderson scattered three hits and walked two, navigating around the few trouble spots he encountered.

"The key was working out of trouble," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I hate to use the word 'effectively wild,' because he pitched pretty well and got big outs when he needed to."
Over and out: Down 2-0 in the second, the Indians had a great opportunity to pull things even when Encarnacion reached via error and Brandon Guyer followed with a double. With runners on second and third and no outs, Anderson induced a flyout off the bat of Rajai Davis and then struck out Roberto Perez. But Erik Gonzalez ended the threat by popping up a 3-0 fastball to first baseman Matt Olson for the third out. On the day, Cleveland was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"I thought that they were pitching around him," said Francona, referring to Gonzalez's at-bat. "And I thought the pitch that he would get would be a fastball on 3-0, so we let him swing. It wasn't exactly what we were looking for. I think that's stating the obvious."
More missed chances: Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs against Anderson in the fourth, but the lefty escaped again by getting Gonzalez to chop into an inning-ending fielder's-choice groundout.

In the sixth, the Indians opened with two singles, but reliever Yusmeiro Petit stopped them there by setting down the next three batters in order. Perez put the period on the missed opportunity by striking out looking on a low fastball, throwing his arms up in disgust at the call by home-plate umpire Eric Cooper.

With seven strikeouts in the loss, Bieber now has 36 punchouts through six big league outings. That marks the third-highest strikeout total through six career games in Indians history, trailing only Herb Score (57 in 1955) and Danny Salazar (37 in 2013). Bieber has posted a higher strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.0) than Salazar (4.1) or Score (1.7) in his first six appearances.
Right-hander Mike Clevinger (7-3, 3.11 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe on Monday, when the Indians open a three-game Interleague set against the Reds with a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Clevinger last pitched on July 1, but the righty is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 career starts after six or more days of rest. Anthony DeSclafani (3-1, 5.08 ERA) will start for Cincinnati.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.