CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cleveland Indians have lost all of their momentum, along with their ability to play clean baseball.
Cleveland committed three errors — upping its major league-leading total to 43 through 43 games — and allowed three unearned runs in a 6-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night.
The Indians, who have dropped three straight and are last in the American League Central, are 2-5 since rolling off a season-high four straight wins.
“When you sit in my seat, you concern yourself with everything, but we are making it harder on ourselves with the plays we aren’t making,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “The thing that’s perplexing is it’s not like they’re happening in similar situations. We just have to be strong enough to get better. There is no alternative.”
Cleveland’s six-game homestand is off to a rocky start. The Indians have lost both games with Oakland, which leads the AL West, and a three-game series with AL Central leader Detroit begins Monday after the Athletics leave town.
The Indians couldn’t even take advantage when former teammate Scott Kazmir, Oakland’s starting pitcher, was ejected in the second inning. Cleveland managed one run in 7 2-3 innings off four relievers.
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin (2-1) pitched six innings, allowing three earned runs and five hits in his third start since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus. He left with Oakland holding a 3-2 lead, forcing him to watch a seventh-inning implosion by his teammates.
First baseman Jesus Aguilar dropped what should have been an inning-ending double play throw from shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. Reliever Marc Rzepczynski subsequently walked Alberto Callaspo, prompting Francona to replace him with Bryan Shaw.
Josh Donaldson greeted Shaw with a two-run triple off the top of the wall in left field, while Brandon Moss followed with an RBI double to extend Oakland’s lead to 6-2. All three runs in the inning were unearned thanks to Aguilar’s miscue.
Aguilar, who was recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Thursday, fully accepted the blame.
“It was a big error and I don’t feel good right now,” he said.
Cabrera and third baseman Carlos Santana also made errors for the Indians, who scored one run in the first inning and another in the sixth. Cabrera scored on Kazmir’s wild pitch to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead, and later drove in Michael Brantley with a sacrifice fly off Fernando Abad.
Oakland right-hander Dan Otero (4-0) pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings. Kazmir was ejected with one out in the second by home plate umpire Jerry Layne for arguing balls and strikes.
“We definitely could have taken advantage of that situation, but their guy came in and did a real good job,” Tomlin said. “It’s frustrating, personally, because there was one inning that got away from me. I felt pretty good tonight, but I’ve got to limit the crooked numbers.”
The Athletics scored all three of their runs off Tomlin with two outs in the third. Donaldson singled home Coco Crisp to even the score, then came around on Moss’ two-run homer.
The game was briefly delayed during Oakland’s rally when a squirrel ran across the field while John Jaso was batting. The squirrel stopped in the middle of the infield before finally jumping into the stands on the third base side and disappearing.
A squirrel also interrupted play at Progressive Field on April 21, during the Indians’ 4-3 win over Kansas City.
Left-hander T.J. House made his major league debut for Cleveland, pitching a perfect ninth inning. He was recalled from Triple-A Columbus earlier Saturday to add bullpen depth. Indians relievers were forced to work 7 2-3 innings Friday in an 11-1 series-opening loss.
“That’s just the luck of the draw we’re having right now,” Rzepczynski said. “But starting a homestand with two losses to Oakland, you definitely didn’t want that to happen.”
NOTES: Indians DH Jason Giambi (strained right calf) will likely be activated from the 15-day DL Tuesday. The 43-year-old veteran admitted the team is struggling. “I know we’re kind of sputtering,” Giambi said. “We get that little glimmer and then it kind of falls apart. We have to keep our heads above water until we hit that good winning streak.” … The Indians made room for House on their roster by assigning RHP C.C. Lee to Triple A-Columbus. … .. Athletics RHP Jesse Chavez (3-1) takes on Indians RHP Justin Masterson (2-2) in the three-game series finale Sunday.
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