June 30, 2016

Mostly sunny

Tribe offense comes up shy

Chris Assenheimer

The Gazette

CLEVELAND — Progressive Field fans broke out the dated wave in the fifth inning of the Indians’ series opener with the New York Yankees on Friday night.

They had to do something to stay interested.

A crowd of 32,802 got little to cheer about as the Indians offered up a lackluster effort in a 3-1 loss that snapped Cleveland’s season-long winning streak at four games.

The postgame fireworks display was the silver lining for Indians fans, who watched defending American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee take another loss thanks in large part to a common problem this season – a lack of run support.

Veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte stymied Cleveland through the first five innings, shutting the Indians out on six hits, despite walking five and wiggling out of a couple of early jams.

The Indians put the first two hitters aboard in the second inning, but got nothing after Jamey Carroll flied to center and Kelly Shoppach grounded into a double play.

Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs in the following inning, but Pettitte got Mark DeRosa to ground to second to end the threat.

The Indians’ only run to cross the plate came with Pettitte in the dugout after he left in the sixth inning with stiffness in his lower back.

Pinch hitter Shin-Soo Choo did the damage, driving in the run with a sacrifice fly.

Cleveland did little with Pettitte gone, mustering just two hits over the final four innings.

Lee (2-6, 3.16) was not at his best, but he kept the Indians in the game through six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits, while striking out five and walking two.

Lee was shaky early, allowing all three runs and seven hits over the first three innings. He got out of a bases-loaded pickle in the first by striking out Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada in succession, but allowed four of the first five hitters he faced to reach base in the Yankees’ two-run second.

The Yankees scored their final run on a sacrifice fly from Nick Swisher in the third.

Three runs to a powerful Yankee lineup could have gotten Lee a win, but he instead suffered his sixth loss of the year — twice the amount of defeats he suffered during his Cy Young season in 2008.

The Indians have scored just seven runs in Lee’s six losses — 30 in his 11 starts on the year.

Ironically, the midges that infest Cleveland’s home park on an annual basis, made one of their first appearances of the year, sparking memories of Game 2 of the 2007 Division Series, when the Indians scored the tying run in a game they eventually won while the insects swarmed Yanks reliever Joba Chamberlain.

Alex Rodriguez got a rude reception from the Progressive Field crowd, which booed him loudly during each at-bat, fans in the bleachers chanting, “steroids” during A-Rod’s first plate appearance.

Cleveland reliever Rafael Perez made his first appearance since being demoted to Triple-A Columbus. He was promoted prior to the game, retiring the side in order in the ninth.

The start of the game was delayed one hour and 25 minutes by rain — the fourth consecutive game delayed by inclement conditions for the Indians, totaling more than six hours.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.