Tribe unable to back Tomlin's solid night against A's
Indians unable to take advantage off of Oakland's bullpen
CLEVELAND -- Jesus Aguilar sat at his locker in a near-empty clubhouse, left to answer questions about his costly error on Saturday night. The Indians first baseman made no excuses and spoke quietly while surrounded by reporters at the end of his third day in the big leagues.
"I don't feel good," Aguilar said. "I've got to keep my head up and keep going."
The bright lights of the Majors Leagues could perhaps be cited for Aguilar's ill-timed mistake in Cleveland's discouraging 6-2 loss to the A's at Progressive Field. The problem with that theory is that no Tribe player has been immune from this season's error epidemic.
All defeats count the same in the standings, but this one felt like a gut punch.
Opportunity knocked early on Cleveland's door Saturday, but the Indians were betrayed once again by both their offense and defense. A's lefty Scott Kazmir was ejected from the game in the second inning and Tribe starter Josh Tomlin turned in six solid frames, but the Indians could not capitalize on that combination in their third straight loss.
Three errors, including one by Aguilar that swung the game in Oakland's favor in the seventh, did Cleveland no favors.
"When you sit in my seat, you concern yourself with everything," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "[Making errors] certainly makes it harder to win. The thing that's kind of perplexing is that it just seems like it's something different, or it's not just a similar play."
The Indians (19-24) have committed a Major League-worst 43 errors. Aguilar became the 16th different Indian to make an error this year, for a team which has been charged with at least one in 29 games. The loss to the A's marked the third time Cleveland has made at least three errors in a game. The Indians have made at least two miscues in 11 contests.
The main culprits have been catcher Yan Gomes (nine), shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (six), first baseman Nick Swisher (five) and third baseman Carlos Santana (five). Among Cleveland's regulars, only right fielder David Murphy has enjoyed an error-free campaign.
As of Saturday, Cleveland has made 44.8 percent of its error total from all of last season (96 errors) in just 26.5 percent of the games.
"That's been a little shocking, yeah," Indians veteran Jason Giambi said before Saturday's loss. "We're better than that. There's no doubt we're better than that. But it's not a question of guys not working hard. Guys are out there early taking grounders. It's just one of those things."
Francona was asked what the Indians can do to try to correct the issue.
"One, you can't feel sorry for yourself," Francona said. "You go out and you try to work the proper amount -- not to the point where it's punishment, where guys get sore arms. You try to keep going out there as a staff, showing energy and trying to be there for the players instead of pointing fingers and running away. That's not something that's going to work.
"So, we have to be strong enough to get better, because there's no other alternative."
In the bottom of the second, things appeared to be tipping in Cleveland's favor. The Indians have struggled mightily this season against lefties, including Kazmir, who handcuffed the Tribe over 7 1/3 scoreless innings on April 2 in his first start against his former team. In his second meeting with Cleveland, Kazmir was fighting his command early.
The Indians grabbed a 1-0 lead with one out in the second inning, when Kazmir fired a wild pitch to Aguilar, allowing Cabrera to spint home from third base. The Oakland lefty went on to walk the rookie first baseman -- Kazmir's third free pass of the night -- prompting the pitcher to bark some complaints at home-plate umpire Jerry Layne.
Layne had little patience for Kazmir's brief rant, tossing the starter from the ballgame as the crowd roared with delight. The lefty exited the field, shouting and kicking a garbage can as he disappeared into the visiting clubhouse.
"It's very frustrating," Kazmir said. "I was really looking forward to this start and this is probably the best I've felt going out there, felt I was hitting a lot of spots and it just didn't work out."
Rather than cave in, the A's fought back without Kazmir.
In the third inning, Josh Donaldson collected an RBI single and Brandon Moss launched a two-run home run against Tomlin, who did not allow any more runs in his six innings of work for the Indians. Meanwhile, Oakland's bullpen was saved for 3 2/3 innings by Dan Otero, who induced three inning-ending double plays.
"Otero really did a good job for them," Francona said. "We're an inning into the game and we're in their bullpen, but he was so good. He got the first-pitch double play. Next inning, got the double play. He kind of let them get their bullpen semi in order. He really bailed them out."
With one out and a runner on first base in the seventh, Tribe lefty Marc Rzepczynski got Coco Crisp to ground a pitch up the middle. Second baseman Mike Aviles gloved the grounder and flipped it to Cabrera at shortstop to initiate a double play. Cabrera recorded the out at second and fired it to Aguilar, who had the ball clank off his glove for an error.
After Rzepczynski walked Alberto Callaspo, Donaldson followed by drilling a pitch from Cleveland right-hander Bryan Shaw high off the wall in left-center field for a two-run triple that pushed the A's to a 5-2 lead. Moss then delivered a run-scoring double that padded Oakland's lead.
Rzepczynski was more upset with the walk than anything else.
"If I get the guy out, all that stuff doesn't happen and [Aguilar's error] doesn't matter," Rzepczynski said. "[The errors are] just the luck of the draw right now for us. I know it's not affecting the pitchers and I know the guys are going out there and doing the best they can.
"Unfortunately, it's just happening to us right now."