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Late offensive excitement can’t overcome early offensive doldrums as Tribe loses 3-1

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If you stayed awake for this one, I apologize.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. If you’re reading this, it’s Saturday out in Cleveland and you’re either waking up to this recap or you’ve managed to stay awake into the early hours of the morning after watching an attempt at baseball by the Cleveland Indians. If it’s the latter, I sincerely apologize. The Indians stagnated on offense through seven innings and fell just short of a comeback in the ninth against one of the top closers in baseball to fall by a score of 3-1.

The game didn’t seem like it would be that bad in the beginning. Francisco Lindor led off the game with a sharp single to right field. Matt Underwood said that when Lindor gets on base, good things usually happen for the Tribe. Normally I would agree with him. The problem was that Lindor then immediately tried to steal second base and was easily thrown out by Jonathan Lucroy. On the slide, Lindor’s face ran into Marcus Semien’s face, which ended up being a perfect representation of this game. Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis both singled back to back in the top of the second with only one out, but a ground ball by Roberto Perez resulted in a double play that ended the threat.

Paul Blackburn struggled through the first couple of innings and the Indians had chances to break through, but after the third he settled in and wouldn’t give up another hit for the rest of the evening. In fact, he only allowed one more base runner when he walked Yonder Alonso in the fourth. Otherwise, he was outstanding. His injuries from last season and earlier this year seemed to have all healed quite nicely.

Trevor Bauer, on the other hand, pitched another fantastic game and was rewarded with no run support. A fluke double by Matt Olson allowed Marcus Semien to drive in a run on a single in the bottom of the second, and another double by Khris Davis in the sixth drove in another. But otherwise, Bauer was magnificent once again. His fastball had a lot of life and he got hitters to chase it out of the zone, and his long looping curveball had significant bite all evening. He got into a bit of a jam in the seventh when Stephen Piscotty and Marcus Semien reached second and third with nobody out, but Bauer recovered and struck out Lucroy and Barreto back to back. Now the chess match began.

With two down in the inning, Tito went to Oliver Perez, his lefty filling in for Andrew Miller. Bob Melvin thought he got the better of Francona and decided to replace Dexter Fowler with a pinch-hitting Mark Canha, a right handed bat. Laughing internally (and a little externally), Tito called for the intentional walk of Canha to load the bases and bring up Matt Joyce. Except it wasn’t Matt Joyce, it was Chad Pinder, another right handed bat. Tito then, surrounded by a sea of boos from the Oakland faithful, yanked Perez and brought in Zach McAllister. So Oliver Perez was credited with a walk and threw zero pitches. Suck it, stat nerds.

Yan Gomes and Francisco Lindor hit a pair of doubles in the top of the eighth to cut the deficit to 1. Unfortunately, Jed Lowrie led off the bottom half of the inning with an umpire certified home run to get the run right back. And for a moment, it looked like Oakland would need that insurance run.

Fireballer Blake Treinen came in to close out the ninth and he almost gave the game away. After a Jose Ramirez lead-off single, Encarnacion drove a ball 403 feet to the base of the wall in center field that was caught by Mark Canha. Yonder Alonso then proceeded to strike out on three pitches and even argued with home plate umpire Lance Barrett in the middle of the at-bat on a pitch that was clearly in the strike zone. Treinen then suddenly lost all command as he walked Rajai Davis on four straight pitches. The stage was set for Jason Kipnis to play hero, but his fly ball died on the warning track in right field to end the game.

This wasn’t necessarily an agonizing loss, but it was frustrating. A great pitching effort fell by the wayside because the offense couldn’t get things going until it was too late. And even then, it wasn’t enough. Adam Plutko takes the hill tomorrow against Edwin Jackson as the Indians attempt to even the series.