Lackluster A’s dominated by stellar Salazar

An early run seemed poised to turn around the A’s bad luck Friday night, but it was hardly enough to lift the deflated team past the solid Cleveland Indians in a 2-1 loss.

The post-game fireworks were the only aspect of the game to light up the Coliseum, as the A’s lone hit brought their total over the last two games to three hits, the fewest for the franchise since the Philadelphia A’s in May of 1953.

Indians starter Danny Salazar (W, 9-6, 3.47 ERA) followed Carrasco’s lead from yesterday night — including a shaky start — and dominated the listless A’s yet again.

Friday’s victory lifts Salazar to a career 2-0 record and a 0.00 ERA against Oakland.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the A’s clubhouse.

A meticulous eye from left-fielder Mark Canha drew the walk from Salazar in the bottom of the third. And with their first hit in ten innings, second baseman Eric Sogard advanced Canha to third on a zinger to right-field.

Two pitches later, shortstop Marcus Semien caught third baseman Giovanny Urshela flat-footed. Urshela appeared to have rushed the play and let up early, leaving the ball stuck at his feet. Canha and his Cal Berkeley teammate Semien safely advanced, with Canha scoring for a 1-0 Oakland lead.

Oakland starter Kendall Graveman was lights out for his team, pitching much sharper than in his previous three outings. Graveman showed off impressive defensive skills in the first inning by diving to snag a ball between the mound and first before throwing out first baseman Carlos Santana to end the inning.

It didn’t stop there, though. After reaching first on an infield single to shortstop, Francisco Lindor was caught stealing from the cookie jar, as Graveman picked him off first. Lindor was originally called safe, but after review the play was reversed, sending Lindor back to his seat.

Catcher Stephen Vogt was pleased with Graveman’s performance and improvement over the past few games:

“He was really aggressive in his own today with his stuff. He did really, really well. He had good command, good movement. He went right after hitters tonight and got some really good outs which is a good sign. He pitched his tail off tonight and should have gotten the win.”

But Graveman’s performance wouldn’t be enough.

Vogt continued, seemingly disgusted with the final result:

“Any time you waste a good start as a hitter you get frustrated about that. When you can’t even give your boy two runs [laughs] and he goes out there and gives up one unearned … he should get the win for that and we weren’t able to do that for him, it’s frustrating.”

The Indians tied the game in the seventh when catcher Yan Gomes reached first on a single to right field. He advanced to third off a massive double from right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall, which sent Canha scrambling to deep left.

With two outs on the board, Urshela made up for his error in the third, ironically, on a routine grounder to Semien who couldn’t handle the hit. Semien’s throw sent first baseman Ike Davis off the bag, and Gomes reached home safely on the error to tie the game at 1-1.

The error was the 29th for Semien on the season and the 90th for the A’s, keeping them right at bottom for most in the majors and leading to 46 unearned runs, second-most in MLB behind the San Diego Padres.

Semien, showing clear frustration with himself, was in complete agreement with the play being called an error:

“That’s gotta be made. I came in with a full head of steam there. It’s a game of inches and if I aim a little more to the left side of him [Davis] we would have gotten that out and been out of the inning.”

He added:

“Kendall [Graveman] deserves that win. As a team we had one hit and still could have won that game if that play was made and get out of the inning.”

Manager Bob Melvin, however was taken aback by the call:

“Usually that play isn’t given an error. He went a long way to get it and it was an off-balance throw. I was surprised when I saw error.”

The inning sealed Graveman’s (6-2/3 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 6 strikeouts) fate as Fernando Rodriguez came on as relief with the bases loaded and two outs.  Rodriguez would pitch to only second-baseman Mike Aviles whose grounder to second allowed the A’s to escape the inning with no further damage.

As the game entered the top of the ninth, Edward Mujica (L, 2-3, 4.30 ERA) stepped on the mound for an inning even uglier than the seventh.

The Tribe made it look easy with a single to left from Chisenhall, who stole second the next batter. Left fielder Michael Bourn entered the batter’s box and produced a massive ground-rule double to deep right-center sending Chisenhall home for the 2-1 win.