CLEVELAND -- Right-hander Jefry Rodriguez worked his worst outing of the season Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered how well he had pitched -- not with the way the Indians are swinging the bat.
Only a home run from Jake Bauers in the eighth inning prevented Cleveland from being shut out for the fifth time this season. As it stood, the Indians lost 7-2, scoring two runs or fewer for the 18th time in 48 games, as Oakland completed a three-game sweep.
“If I had the magic potion, believe me I’d give it to everybody,” manager Terry Francona said of his team’s offensive struggles. “The best thing I know is to not drag our heads, to not feel sorry for ourselves. Because nobody cares, especially the teams we’re playing. They’re probably thrilled.
“But we’ve got to keep grinding. And fortunately I think we have some grinders. And we have some guys that can lead the way. And I’ve got to be front and center. I can’t be the one feeling sorry for anybody. We’ve got to get after it and keep getting after it and fight our way through it.”
In an ominous start to the game, Rodriguez walked three batters and allowed two runs in the first without the A’s producing a hit. The Indians responded by scoring zero runs on two hits in the bottom of the inning.
Rodriguez never found a groove, allowing runs in each of the four innings he pitched, surrendering five for the game on seven hits -- one home run -- and four walks.
A pair of the runs was driven in by left fielder Robbie Grossman, who spent time in Cleveland’s minor league system in 2016.
“Command, he was fighting it right from the beginning,” Francona said of Rodriguez, who threw 94 pitches, only 49 for strikes. “To his credit, man, he didn’t cave. He kept fighting, but it was right from the get-go. He was having trouble commanding the baseball.”
“I felt like I was struggling a little bit, but I was competing with everything that I had,” Rodriguez said through an interpreter. “It’s not difficult to fight and compete, but I feel like I didn’t have my best command.”
A’s right-hander Frankie Montas had a much easier time, shutting out the Indians on five hits, while striking out nine over six innings.
He allowed two hits apiece in the first two innings, with the Indians failing to cash in each time.
“Once he would speed us up with his fastball, then he would go to that, whatever you call, change or split, whatever you want to call it. And it really gave us trouble,” Francona said of Montas, who improved to 6-2 with a 2.40 ERA over 10 starts. “Especially when we’d get runners in scoring position because that’s when he would go to it more. He starts pitching backward. That gave us a really tough time.”
The Indians left 11 on base, going hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
With the game well in hand, Oakland brought in struggling veteran Fernando Rodney to start the eighth inning.
Rodney, who entered with an 8.16 ERA over 16 appearances, walked Francisco Lindor to lead off the inning, then Bauers followed with his first homer of the season at Progressive Field. The ball traveled an estimated 450 feet to right-center.
Lindor was the only player in the lineup with more than one hit, reaching base twice on singles and twice on walks.
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