June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Tribe: The haunting, Kazmir bedevils Cleveland hitters

Former Cleveland pitcher Scott Kazmir handcuffed Indians hitters to help the A’s throttle the Tribe. Kazmir allowed just three hits in 7-plus innings. (AP PHOTO)

Former Cleveland pitcher Scott Kazmir handcuffed Indians hitters to help the A’s throttle the Tribe. Kazmir allowed just three hits in 7-plus innings. (AP PHOTO)

OAKLAND, Calif. — Corey Kluber was already struggling with his command when he was forced to take a nearly five-minute break for a replay challenge. The long delay sure didn’t help his cause.

Kluber failed to get out of the fourth inning and lost for the first time since last June as the Indians were shut down by former teammate Scott Kazmir in a 6-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a day-night doubleheader Wednesday.

The second game had not been completed by press time.

Kluber (0-1) allowed five runs and eight hits in 3⅓ innings, including an RBI single by Jed Lowrie after the lengthy replay review went Cleveland’s way in the second inning.

“By that point it was apparent I was searching and I don’t think that had anything to do with it,” Kluber said. “That being said, I thought it took way too long. It took away from the flow of the game and that’s what they are trying to avoid.”

Lowrie’s hit gave Oakland a 3-0 lead Alberto Callaspo’s two-run homer an inning later put Kluber in a hole too deep for the Indians to overcome.

Kazmir (1-0) allowed three hits and no walks in 7⅓ innings in a successful Oakland debut just months after leaving Cleveland to sign a $22 million, two-year deal with the A’s.

“He gave us a taste of our own medicine from what we saw last year,” Indians outfielder Nick Swisher said. “I just hate that it happened to us.”

Yoenis Cespedes and Brandon Moss added RBI hits for the Athletics, who broke out offensively after being shut out Monday in their big league record 10th straight opening loss.

But behind a strong performance from Kazmir, the A’s followed an opening day defeat with a victory for the seventh time in those 10 years.

“With a team like Cleveland, you have to get ahead because they are a great fastball hitting team,” Kazmir said. “Whenever you’re behind, that’s pretty much what you have to challenge them with. Early in the game I was able to get ahead in the count and mix all my pitches in and keep them off balance.”

The teams played the earliest doubleheader in baseball history following the first rainout in Oakland since May 5, 1998, Tuesday night. The previous earliest doubleheader came on April 7 in 1971, ’74 and ’96, according to STATS.

Josh Lindblom was called up from Triple-A Sacramento as Oakland’s 26th man to start the second game against Zach McAllister. The Indians added reliever C.C. Lee to the roster for the second game.

Kazmir found his groove after allowing a pair of fly balls to the warning track in the first inning. He allowed only singles to Michael Brantley in the second and Jason Kipnis in the fourth, and a double to Mike Aviles with one out in the eighth.

Dan Otero gave up a two-out RBI single in the ninth to Carlos Santana that ended the shutout.

Oakland scored twice in the second inning to take a 3-0 lead despite losing a replay challenge. The disputed play came with runners on first and third and one out when Josh Donaldson hit a grounder to third. Carlos Santana threw home and umpire Mark Wegner ruled that Gomes tagged Derek Norris before he touched home.

A’s manager Bob Melvin challenged the call but the ruling stood after a review of about 4 minutes, 45 seconds, because there was no conclusive evidence to overturn it.

“It’s becoming pretty clear that unless it’s obvious, they’re not going to overturn it because we had him as safe,” Melvin said. “It was close but we had him as safe.”