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Home runs fly as Indians lose, 5-3

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I may prefer no baseball to this.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, you lost the first game back after the All-Star Break with your second ace on the mound. It was tough, but these things happen in baseball. It’s nothing to sweat. Your ace is going tomorrow and the bats will wake up at some point, right?

Maybe someday.

The Cleveland Indians snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Corey Kluber twirled another gem (we’ll get to that play in a moment), the Indians had some power return to their bats thanks to Edwin Encarnacion, and the juggernaut bullpen was well rested and ready to go. All signs pointed to Cleveland coming out on top, but Tito and Bryan Shaw had different thoughts in the late innings of tonight’s game and wound up handing the game to the last place Oakland Athletics.

Let’s talk about Corey Kluber. Corey Kluber, as you all know, strikes out everyone, and tonight was no exception. In his 7.1 innings of work, Kluber dazzled again with a dozen strikeouts and no walks. Unfortunately, of the five hits that he gave up, two of them left the ballpark thanks to rookie Matt Chapman. Many in tonight’s game thread were clamoring that Matt “Career .146” Chapman schooled Kluber tonight, but folks need to realize a couple of things. One, Chapman has a grand total of 45 plate appearances coming into tonight’s game. I love silly small sample size stats as much as the next guy, but everyone should know that a .146 BA doesn’t mean crap after 45 plate appearances. Second, yes he hit his first (and second) major league home run off of one of the best pitchers in the game, but Chapman demonstrated significant home run prowess in the minor leagues, so this isn’t unheard of. Chapman did get the better of the Klubot all night long, however; in three at-bats, Chapman had a double and two home runs off of the former Cy Young award winner. Chapman was definitely a thorn in the side of the Cleveland Indians tonight.

With that being said, Chapman never should have hit his second home run because Corey Kluber should not have been in the game at that point. With a 3-2 lead, Corey Kluber up over 100 pitches, and a fully rested bullpen, Terry Francona should have had Andrew Miller start the eighth inning. Now, maybe Chapman laughs at the pitching change and launches a ball into orbit anyway, but Francona had an opportunity to give his team a better opportunity at victory and did not take it. I won’t put this loss on Francona because he wasn’t the one who gave up 5 runs to the A’s, but he does shoulder some of the blame with his costly decision in the eighth inning.

On the offensive side of things, the Indians did look better than they did last night; granted, that’s not a high bar to clear. After Chapman hit his first home run in the third inning, many cried game over thinking that a one run deficit was suddenly insurmountable. Edwin decided to let his parrot fly in response, launching a moonshot 2-run home run to left field to immediately reclaim the lead. It was great to see the Indians fight back not once, but twice after the A’s either tied or took the lead. The second time would come in the sixth inning. With the game tied 2-2, Encarnacion was walked to bring up Jose “literally a goat” Ramirez who hit a seeing eye single up the middle at just the right speed to advance Edwin to third base. Carlos Santana was next, and his slow roller to Marcus Semien gave Edwin enough time to trot home and reclaim the lead. Edwin was key to tonight’s offense, so hopefully he continues.

I don’t want to, but here it goes. Bryan Shaw blew the game late and was the final nail in Cleveland’s coffin for tonight’s game. After Andrew Miller walked Yonder Alonso to start the ninth inning, Tito pulled his fireman in favor of Bryan Shaw. As Shaw walked to the mound, Khris Davis walked to the plate and I began to walk around my living room in both anticipation and in a desire to use the restroom. I silently said to myself that I would wait until the next at-bat at least, assuming that Shaw would get out of the inning and there would be a commercial break before bonus baseball. Well, Shaw must’ve sensed my plight and decided to help me out by just ending the game right there. On a 3-2 count, Shaw’s cutter clipped the bottom of the strike zone and Davis turned on it and golfed the winning home run over the DeWalt sign in right field. Thanks for the consideration, Bryan.

Oh, and Francisco Lindor now owns a batting average under .250. This is a nightmare.

In my series preview, I assumed that the first two games would heavily favor the Cleveland Indians based on pitching matchup and the Athletics would have to avoid getting swept on Sunday. Boy was I wrong. Trevor Bauer faces off against Sean Manaea tomorrow to hopefully avoid the sweep. Please don’t get swept.