CLEVELAND – Left-handed pitching has thrown a wrench in the Indians plans at the plate this season.
Entering play with a .240/.327/.383 slash line vs. southpaws, the home nine stayed true to their 2017 struggles on Wednesday.
Oakland rode the dominant form of lefty Sean Manaea along with the power-hitting prowess of Chad Pinder en route to a 3-1 victory over the Tribe at Progressive Field.
The nine-hitter belted a pair of home runs behind Manaea’s seven innings of one-run ball to spoil Mike Clevinger’s solid start on the hill.
Clevinger unable to evade long ball
Pinder homered in the third and fifth to account for all three runs charged to Clevinger in his 6.2 innings of work, just the second time the right-hander has worked past the sixth frame in his brief career.
“He left two breaking balls to Pinder that got hit,” said manager Terry Francona. “Other than that, he was really good. I think if he gets 6.2 (innings) and three (runs), most nights we’re talking about how well he did.”
Aside from Pinder, Oakland batted 3-for-29 (.103) against Cleveland pitching with two doubles and two walks.
“The first one was a slider. The second one was a curveball. Both ended up in the exact same spot,” Clevinger said. “I felt good. I felt strong. They just capitalized on those mistakes and did damage with it.”
Here is the location of the two home runs, the entirety of the Athletics offense…
Manaea earns fourth win of the campaign
After setting down 10 consecutive hitters, Manaea surrendered a solo blast to Francisco Lindor to even the score at 1-1 and extend the
Indians streak to 16 consecutive games with at least one home run.
“He’s stronger I think than people realize,” said Francona. “I mean tonight that ball was down and he was out in front, but he stayed through it so well.”
Manaea settled in shortly thereafter and did not allow a runner to advance past first base for the remainder of the dominating start – 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 9 K (99 pitches, 74 strikes, 74.7%, three groundouts, four flyouts).
“He was real effective,” Francona said. “He’s kind of across his body with his fastball, he’s got some run. Kind of got a funky arm slot. And then changeup, breaking ball. And you know what, he pitched really good. We had a hard time getting the hitting going.”
Edwin Encarnacion singled and extended his hitting streak to 10 games, but the Tribe could not muster any further production off Ryan Madson or Santiago Casilla in the late innings.
“[Manaea] was moving the ball,” said Lindor. “He was locating. And his delivery was a little [funky]. He can get you off your timing. Like I said, he had a plan and he executed. He beat us today.”
Central Division update
The Astros hammered the Twins (26-23), 17-6.
The series finale is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. ET at Progressive Field.
RHP Corey Kluber (3-2, 5.06) will make his first appearance since May 2 after suffering a lower back strain that landed him on the 10-day disabled list. The 2014 AL Cy Young Winner fired a one-hitter in five shutout innings last Friday in Akron.
RHP Jharel Cotton (3-5, 5.56) has struggled to get acclimated with the big league club as he is serving his second stint since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville last Saturday. The 25-year-old rookie has registered a quality start in three of his eight outings this year.
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.