June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

No Laffey matter for Indians


Staff Writer

CLEVELAND — Aaron Laffey finally reached his breaking point.

Pitching admirably all season long but deprived of more favorable results thanks to a lack of run support from the Indians’ sagging offense, the left-hander finally turned the tables on his ungrateful hitters Sunday.

One disastrous inning from Laffey was all it took for Cincinnati to wrap up another interleague series against the Indians, winning the rubber match 9-5 in front of a crowd of 37,079 fans at Progressive Field.

The loss gave last-place Cincinnati its fifth win in six games against the reeling Indians, who lost for the eighth time in 12 games to remain in a last-place tie with Kansas City in the Central Division. Cleveland entered Sunday trailing the first-place White Sox by 8½ games.

Laffey (4-5, 3.24) appeared en route to his usual quality start, shutting the Reds out on three hits through the first four innings. But trouble arrived in the fifth, with the Reds scoring five times to open up a 5-0 advantage to take control.

“He was real good early,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “He just got a little out of sync in that one inning. You’ve got to be able to control damage. He’s done a great job with that. This was just one of those days he wasn’t able to do that.”

Cincinnati capped it’s five-run rally with a two-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion, one of the few hits of five in the inning that Laffey felt was legitimate.

“Even though I gave up five runs, there were two hard-hit balls the whole inning,” he said. “It was one inning. Other than that, I threw well.”

Meanwhile, another struggling Reds starter — right-hander Bronson Arroyo — cured his ills against the anemic Cleveland offense a day after unheralded Johnny Cueto did the same.

Arroyo entered the game with a 4-7 record and 6.52 ERA, allowing a career-high 10 runs and 11 hits in just an inning-plus of the shortest start of his career his last time out against Toronto.

None of his previous problems were on display against the Indians, who mustered just two runs on five hits, striking out six times through six innings, with Wedge doing the Reds right-hander a favor by employing a lineup that included David Dellucci (1-for-4), Andy Marte (0-for-4) and Jorge Velandia (2-for-4) as the bottom three hitters. Marte has played in 25 games and is still without an RBI.

Arroyo shut Cleveland out on two hits through the first four innings, but refused to take the credit, passing it along to the Indians.

“I got away with a lot of stuff,” he said. “I threw a lot more bad pitches than I did in Toronto. I was hanging breaking balls, leaving a lot up in the zone, and they just popped it all up.”

Arroyo kept the Indians off balance with an effective mix of breaking balls. 

“I think we got a little bit in between against (Arroyo),” Wedge said. “I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but we’ve talked about making adjustments all season long.”

A perfect microcosm of the Indians’ sorry offensive season arrived early.

Grady Sizemore led off the opening inning with a single to left, then stole second base. That’s where Sizemore stayed after the next three hitters — Casey Blake, Ben Francisco and Jhonny Peralta all struck out.

Thanks to Sizemore, who has been carrying the Cleveland offense as of late, the Indians finally broke through against Arroyo in the sixth. Sizemore led off the inning with his American League-leading 19th homer. It was his 50th career homer at Progressive Field and his 11th in 28 games.

Sizemore’s long ball snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak for the Indians, who added another run in the inning on an error from Reds center fielder Jerry Hairston on a double from Shin-Soo Choo.

Another long ball, a two-run shot from Ben Francisco in the ninth, capped Cleveland’s scoring output.

Fresh off the heels of another disappointing defeat and sub-par homestand, the Indians now head out on a pivotal road trip that takes them through three Central Division cities — Chicago (3 games), Minnesota (3) and Detroit (2). It’s a trek that will most likely determine the fate of the rest of the season.

“This is definitely going to be our biggest road trip of the year,” Laffey said. “We need to win and we’ve got to win the majority of those games.”

“This is what it’s all about,” Wedge said. “We’ve got a lot of games left in our division (42), so it’s going to make or break us. It’s pretty simple stuff.”

Assenheimer may be reached at cassenheimer@chroniclet.com or 440-329-7137.