CLEVELAND – Mitch Talbot allowed five runs in the first inning Wednesday night at Progressive Field. With the way the Indians have been swinging the bat lately, they might as well have gone home before the second.
Oakland’s early uprising was more than enough to beat back the offensively-challenged Indians, who lost for the fifth straight time and for the 13th time in 15 games, dropping a 6-1 decision in front of just 10,514 fans.
“Mitch struggled with his command in that first inning,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose team has scored just four runs over the five-game skid, while batting .168 with two doubles and one home run. “You really don’t want to be down 5-0 before you even swing the bat against a guy (Trevor Cahill) that is contending for the Cy Young.
“That first inning basically did us in, but we didn’t score enough runs anyway.”
Cahill, who improved to 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA, certainly had a hand in limiting Cleveland’s run count, allowing just an unearned run on seven hits over seven innings.
Though the right-hander allowed a number of baserunners, he was rarely in trouble, surrendering his lone run after Jason Donald reached base on an error to lead off the fifth inning.
Cahill’s effort over seven innings was leaps and bounds ahead of Talbot’s over one inning – the disastrous first that took the Indians out of the game early.
After retiring the first batter he faced, Talbot allowed six straight to reach on two walks, a hit batter, two singles and a double from former Indian Kevin Kouzmanoff, who cleared the bases to put Oakland in front 5-0.
“That first inning was a lot of struggles in a lot of different areas,” Talbot said. “Mechanically, I felt like I was all over the place, and the results showed that I was all over the place. It seems like I can’t find a break right now.”
He certainly didn’t get one from home plate umpire Paul Emmel, who might have spared Talbot had he made the correct call on the hit batter (Kurt Suzuki) three batters into the game.
Replays confirmed that on an 0-2 pitch to Suzuki, Talbot’s offering actually hit the end of the bat and not the Oakland catcher’s hand.
“It’s one of those things you have to let go and try to get the next hitter,” Talbot said. “I was scuffling out there anyway.”
“It didn’t help at all,” Acta said of Emmel’s call. “He had that guy 0-2, but you can’t blame the umpire for the two walks, the singles and the double.”
Talbot, who allowed just a run over the next five innings, has no one to blame but himself for his performance as of late. At one time a candidate for American League Rookie of the Year, the left-hander is 0-5 over his last eight starts, with his last win coming on June 27. He has allowed 24 runs over the five losses.
“He hasn’t been as sharp,” Acta said of Talbot, who began the season at 5-2 over his first seven starts. “But after that rough first inning he got in a very good groove. Unfortunately, you have to put the six innings together.”
While Talbot was finding his rhythm, Cleveland’s offense remained in low gear, collecting just two hits over the final four innings. All of the Indians’ last eight outs came via the strikeout after Cleveland had failed to fan once over the first six innings.
“We’re not hiding the fact that we’ve been in the bottom three (in the AL) in offense even before we lost those guys to injuries,” Acta said. “We’re going to struggle offensively here and there. We just have to keep working and keep the faith.”
Shin-Soo Choo and Jayson Nix accounted for five of the Indians’ eight hits on the night, Choo going 3-for-3 with a walk. Choo has hit safely in seven of his last nine games, batting .372 (16-for-43) over the span, with a home run and five RBIs. He is hitting .316 (56-for-177) with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 46 games since June 17.
“He just keeps going,” Acta said. “Unfortunately, right now, he’s one of the few threats we have.”
The Indians have scored two or fewer runs over the last five games, accounting for the longest such streak since 2002. They are 3-41 this season when scoring two runs or less.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.