OAKLAND — The Oakland Athletics had won a season-high six games in a row coming into Sunday’s game against the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians. They had right-hander Frankie Montas on the mound — the same Montas who posted a 2.41 ERA through his first five outings this season before a couple of recent road bumps.
But eleven Cleveland doubles— seven of which came against Montas — helped extinguish Oakland’s winning streak, as the A’s lost, 15-3.
Montas scattered nine hits across a laborious 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered three runs and would have allowed many more if not for his nimble work with runners on base.
“I was just trying to keep the team in the game,” Montas said. “I just missed my spots a couple of times. … They’re really good fastball hitters, and they took advantage of that.
Last month, Montas pitched into the seventh inning three times, winning each start. His first five outings landed him in the good graces of an injury-ravaged team desperate for quality innings. But clunkers against the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros indicated he might not be able to sustain his form, and his issues on Sunday underlined that point.
Such is the up-and-down life of inexperienced MLB pitchers —one day an emerging asset, the next unable to miss the barrel of the bat.
After Montas gave up a run in the first inning, the A’s briefly leveled the score with an opposite-field RBI double by first baseman Matt Olson.
With continued hard contact against Montas, though, it seemed a matter of time until the Indians inflicted further damage. After all, they hit six balls with an exit velocity above 100 mph against him. In the fifth and sixth innings, shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Jose Ramirez broke through with RBI doubles.
“The [pitch] he had a little trouble with was the fastball in to the lefties,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It was creeping back over the plate.”
Relief pitcher Yusmerio Petit allowed two solo home runs in the seventh.
In the bottom half of that frame, the A’s cut the deficit to 5-3 with single from catcher Jonathan Lucroy and groundout from Mark Canha. The game wasn’t close for long.
In the eighth inning, the Indians banged out seven hits and eight runs before the Coliseum crowd could sarcastically cheer the first out. Here’s a succinct recap of Cleveland’s eighth inning: Single, double, hit by pitch, single, walk, single, single, walk, single, double. Relievers Chris Hatcher and Josh Lucas took the ERA hits.
Right-hander Santiago Casilla let two more runs score in the ninth.
“[The relievers] weren’t as sharp as we’ve seen them before,” Melvin said. “When you haven’t pitched in six or seven days like some of them, it’s tough to locate.”
With the loss, the A’s fell another game back in the AL Wild Card. Still, Oakland enters an off day having claimed 12 of its past 15 games.
“We were in that game until the end of it,” shortstop Marcus Semien said. “It’s just unfortunate [that it got away]. We still won the series, so we’re happy.”