OAKLAND – Presented with a chance for redemption Wednesday night, Jim Johnson instead tucked himself deeper in the doghouse with the Oakland faithful. The A’s new closer gave up three runs in the top of the ninth, and the A’s lost 6-4 to the Cleveland Indians, missing out on what could have been a doubleheader sweep.
Johnson, who allowed two runs and took the loss in Monday’s season opener, entered with a three-run lead Wednesday and couldn’t nail it down.
He gave up singles to his first two batters. After a fielder’s choice grounder put runners on the corners, a walk to Carlos Santana loaded the bases. Then Michael Brantley’s two –run go-ahead single found a hole through the right side to give Cleveland a 5-4 lead. The ball went under Josh Reddick’s glove in right field and moved Santana to third base. He would score on David Murphy’s sacrifice fly. Johnson, who led the majors with nine blown saves in 2013, is now 0-7 in his career against Cleveland.
Starting pitching report
Josh Lindblom arrived for a one-game starting assignment and turned in 4 2/3 innings before Melvin lifted him in the 5th and brought in Drew Pomeranz.
It was an adequate night’s work given the circumstances, as the right-hander at least prevented Melvin from really burning through his bullpen. He gave up two runs, two walks and struck out two.
Oakland led 2-0 in the fourth when Mike Aviles drilled a two-run shot over the left-field wall off Lindblom.
The A’s middle relief and setup men did their job in getting the ball to Johnson for a save opportunity.
At the plate
The Indians made a mockery of things in the A’s seventh-inning rally that broke a 3-3 tie. Center fielder Michael Brantley and left fielder Ryan Raburn nearly collided on Josh Donaldson’s catchable fly ball, and the ball fell and Donaldson wound up on second. The error was given to Brantley, snappng his club-record 247-game errorless streak.
Donaldson moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Brandon Moss’ single that also could have gone for an error.
Facing a lefty shift, Moss grounded a ball that second baseman Aviles fielded in shallow right field. His throw to pitcher Bryan Shaw, covering first, was on the money but Shaw dropped the ball and Moss was safe on the bang-bang play.
The A’s scored twice in the first but should have had a bigger rally. John Jaso and Josh Reddick both struck out with a runner at third.
A bright spot: Yoenis Cespedes’ opposite field RBI double to right in the first. He also went the other way with a hit in the first game.
In the field
Reddick’s error hurt as it helped Cleveland to an extra insurance run in the ninth. But his throwing arm has discouraged Indians runners from trying to score on base hits on a couple of occasions this series.
It was a sparse turnout for the doubleheader nightcap, with paid attendance at 12,198. The actual crowd seemed smaller.
The A’s get their first division opponent as the Seattle Mariners arrive for four games starting Thursday. Jesse Chavez (2-4, 3.92 last year) opposes Roenis Elias (0-0, 0.00) in the 7:05 p.m. series opener.