Interleague play presents a number of challenges for an American League team on the road.
Pitching against the opposing pitcher is usually not one of them.
Nevertheless, Mike Clevinger surrendered a three-run double to his counterpart Antonio Senzatela as the Indians lost 11-3 to the Rockies on Tuesday night at Coors Field. Colorado is now 9-2 at home against the Tribe throughout its 24-year history as a franchise.
Lonnie Chisenhall and Bradley Zimmer each homered in the losing effort.
Senzatela helps own cause
Clevinger’s erratic command in the second inning paved way to two walks and a bases-clearing, two-out double off the bat of Senzatela.
“Early in the game, I couldn’t find the zone. By the time I found it, it was a little bit too late,” said Clevinger to reporters. “That was a tough pill to swallow. Don’t have many words for that. I just left a fastball over the plate and the pitcher got three RBIs.”
The right-hander continued to fall behind in the count and eventually paid the price again when Carlos Gonzalez lined a two-run shot to right-center field on a 1-0 fastball down the middle (see location below).
“It just look like he got back in that mode where (he’s) picking a little bit,” manager Terry Francona said. “I know this is a place where it’s easy to fall into that. But in any place, you almost have to be aggressive because there’s going to be hits, there’s going to be some home runs. But when there’s traffic, that’s when it gets a little more dangerous.”
Francona opted to pinch-hit for Clevinger in the fifth, giving him a final line of 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R/ER, 3 BB, 6 K (76 pitches, 45 strikes, 59.2%, three groundouts, two flyouts).
“The walks paid dividends today,” said Clevinger. “I really still feel like I beat myself.”
“I feel like it took me a little longer to get in sync, just find that release point. I was searching for the first couple innings and by the time I found it, we were in the hole (by) five runs and it was too late to turn it around.”
Nightmare on the mound
Zach McAllister fell victim to the hitter-friendly conditions of Coors Field thanks to Mark Reynolds’ three-run bomb wrapped around the right-field foul pole.
“When he’s hitting the ball like he did to right field, [Reynolds] gets more dangerous,” Francona said. “What a lift he’s given them. He’s hitting in the middle of the order, he’s hitting home runs and driving in runs.”
Reynolds proceeded to register his 26th career multi-homer performance with a two-run blast off Nick Goody, giving the Rockies a seven-run cushion, 10-3.
The lead expanded one last time on D.J. LeMahieu’s RBI single in the home half of the eighth.
Fresh off the disabled list, Chisenhall found a hanging breaking ball to his liking and crushed it to left field for a solo shot, his seventh home run of the campaign.
“He looked good,” said Francona. “That’s good. Good to have him back and let him settle in a little bit.”
Zimmer was next to launch the long ball with a two-run homer to knock in Jose Ramirez and kick Senzatela out of the contest.
Aside from the pair of round-trippers, the Indians batted 5-for-30 (.167) with zero extra-base hits.
Central Division update
The Angels topped the Tigers (28-29), the White Sox (25-31) beat the Rays and the Royals (25-32) ended the Astros’ 11-game winning streak with a come-from-behind victory in the ninth inning.
The brief two-game series wraps up on Wednesday at 3:10 p.m. ET from Coors Field in Denver, Colo.
RHP Trevor Bauer (5-4, 5.83) will pitch on two days rest after he threw 1.2 scoreless innings in a rain-shortened start on Sunday in Kansas City. Despite his struggles in the first two months of the season, the 26-year-old right-hander out of UCLA has not surrendered a run in his last 4.2 frames of work.
LHP Kyle Freeland (6-3, 3.53) has had quite the rookie year through 11 major league starts, nine of which have three or fewer earned runs charged to his ledger. The Rockies selected the 24-year-old southpaw with the eighth overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
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.