Cleveland Indians’ Season Slipping Away Following Sweep By Oakland A’s

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Following a road swing that saw them go 3-3 against the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, the Cleveland Indians‘ season took a dangerous turn towards disaster after an ugly three-game sweep over the weekend at the hands of the Oakland A’s at Progressive Field. The three losses drop the Indians to 19-25, and while it’s just six games under .500, the team is getting near that point of falling out of the race in the AL Central before Memorial Day.

The three-game sweep by Oakland was one of the worst in Progressive Field in quite a while. All three phases of the Indians’ game failed at various points in the series. The pitching staff allowed a total of 30 runs (10 runs a game). In three games against Oakland, the staff gave up 25 earned runs, 33 hits, 14 walks and five homers. Starter Zach McAllister allowed an eight-run second inning to Oakland on Friday, while the staff’s ace Justin Masterson gave up seven runs on seven hits in 4.1 inning during Sunday’s loss.

The starting pitching hasn’t helped the Indians much at all as of late, going 2-6 with a 7.89 ERA from May 10 to May 18. It’s part of the reason why Terry Francona will try and jump-start the rotation by giving Trevor Bauer a shot on Tuesday in place of Danny Salazar, who was sent to AAA Columbus on Friday after starting the year 1-4.

The offense did little against A’s pitching this weekend, putting up six runs in three games, and that’s with A’s starter Scott Kazmir going just 1.1 inning on Saturday before getting ejected. Francona attempted to give the offense some life by putting struggling hitters Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana in the sixth and seventh spots in the lineup on Sunday, but the team still wasn’t able to get things turned around, despite scoring first in all three games of the series.

Then there’s the defense, which has been unwatchable all season. Over the three games it was much of the same, as the worst defense in baseball committed seven errors in the losses, putting them at 45 on the year, most in the Majors. The errors not only extended innings, but they also turned into runs by a good A’s team that had no problems accepting the gifts the Indians gave them.

While the Indians are in what appears to be a free fall, all they have coming up next is the division leading Detroit Tigers for three straight at home. If they don’t start to get their game turned around in a hurry, there’s a very good chance this team could find themselves 13 to 15 games out of first in the AL Central before Memorial Day.

It’s the biggest test for Francona in his second year with the team. While he and the Indians’ brass will continue to try to do whatever they can to turn things around, if they can finally turn the corner it may very well be too little, too late for the team to be able to have any shot at the division in 2014.

Matt Loede has covered the Cleveland Indians for 20 years for National Networks like AP Radio, Metro Networks and other local and national stations. Follow him on twitter @mattloede.

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