CLEVELAND – Though most of the Cleveland Indians’ 3-0 loss to the Oakland A’s on Friday night was unsightly, it was Mike Redmond’s at-bat in the sixth inning that truly put the “ugh” in ugly.
The Indians had consistently failed at the plate – though Jayson Nix was credited with a single on a ball that easily could have been scored an error in the fourth inning – before the offense woke up with two outs in the sixth.
Jhonny Peralta, Matt LaPorta and Nix all singled to load the bases. Redmond then stepped to the plate and looped a ball into right field as the Progressive Field crowd erupted.
But Oakland right fielder Ryan Sweeney caught the ball on one bounce and silenced the crowd by zipping it to first to get Redmond and end the inning.
“I knew that was something that could happen and I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t happened before,” Redmond said. “They played a shift on me. They’ve played that way on me for years … and I hit it right to them.”
Indians manager Manny Acta said he wasn’t surprised Redmond was gunned down from the outfield.
“They take that chance and they play him shallow,” Acta said. “He doesn’t run like Jason Donald. … There was nothing he could do. If he hits the ball over their head then they get burned, but that wasn’t the case tonight.”
The play was just the exclamation point on a poor performance by the Indians, who saw their season-high five-game winning streak come to an end.
Cleveland’s only other hit was a two-out double by Shin-Soo Choo, who had to leave the game after injuring himself diving for a flyball in the eighth inning, and rookie sensation Carlos Santana quickly struck out to end the threat. Santana finished with an uncharacteristic 0-for-4 performance, just the second time in 19 games he didn’t reach base.
Even Mitch Talbot’s solid effort on the mound was marred by small stretches of ineffectiveness. The rookie walked in the game’s first run in the first inning and was hit hard in the sixth for Oakland’s other two runs.
“I threw a few too many balls out there,” Talbot said. “I struggled with the location of my change-up early and I got behind too many guys. It wasn’t a very good night on the mound.”
Acta thought his starting pitcher did enough to give the Indians a chance to win, but credited Oakland starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez as the main reason the A’s cruised to their American League-leading ninth shutout of the season.
Gonzalez (7-5, 3.50 ERA) has allowed just one earned run over his last three starts.
“He was the story,” Acta said. “He had a very good fastball tonight and had a sharp sinker working. He was tough and we just couldn’t seem to figure him out.”
While the loss to Oakland will be deemed forgettable by most Indians fans, the rare 9-3 putout of Redmond will be a hard memory to erase. The veteran catcher just hopes that fans remember it was the way Oakland’s defense played him that led to the out.
“What bothers me is that there’s probably people out there saying, ‘He didn’t hustle,’ or telling their kids, ‘That guy didn’t hustle to first base,’” Redmond said. “I can suck up getting thrown out from right field, but I hustled out of the box. I’ve busted my butt for 13 years in this league and that bothers me quite a bit.”
Redmond said he was almost thrown out on a similar play four or five years ago – also while playing against Oakland – but the throw from the outfield was high and he reached safely. He added that if he could hit the ball away from the shallow outfielder, he obviously would.
“I don’t know anyone in this league who knows how to steer the ball,” he said. “I’m going to keep hitting the ball there and hope for the best. I’ve hit .300 in this league for quite a few years by slapping balls to right field – that’s what I do.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• WHO: Cleveland vs. Oakland
• TIME: 7:05
• WHERE: Progressive Field
• PITCHERS: Westbrook (5-4, 4.69 ERA) vs. Mortensen (MLB debut)
• TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM