Late Indians homer tops A’s in pitchers’ duel

Unable to solve a dominant Carlos Carrasco, the Oakland Athletics fell to the Cleveland Indians in a 1-0 pitchers’ duel Monday night.

Starter Andrew Triggs held the American League Central-leading Indians (72-51) scoreless for six. He will continue to search for his first win as a major leaguer, though, as his A’s (53-72) could come across just four hits and just one at-bat with a runner in scoring position.

The loss left a particularly bad taste in Oakland mouths, as the inability to overturn a called out via replay review likely cost the home team multiple runs.

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

A’s manager Bob Melvin was impressed by the Indian right-hander, though it was no surprise:

“He has everything working today, and when he has everything working he’s one of the better pitchers in the American League.”

Carrasco (W, 9-6, 3.12 ERA) tossed one of his best performances of the season, holding the Oakland offense scoreless on just four hits, while striking out nine over eight innings.

All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt was in agreement with the skipper:

“He’s throwing 97, and both of his off-speed pitches were in and out of the zone real quick. He’s some kind of good, and when he’s on he’s one of the best in baseball. And he was certainly that tonight.”

When he was finally lifted, Cleveland went to newly acquire reliever Andrew Miller (7-1, 1.45 ERA) who recorded his 11th save of the season in overpowering fashion — striking out the side in order to end the game.

Aggressive base running and a nearly-perfect relay from the Indians combined to hurt the A’s only scoring opportunity, which did not come until the sixth.

With the Green and Gold having yet to put a runner in scoring position, Coco Crisp sent a one-out liner into the right-field corner. Instead of holding at second, the speedy lead-off man rounded it looking to setup his teammates with a runner on third. The risk did not pay off, even after the nearly minute-and-a-half replay-review delay.

A quick relay from Lonnie Chisenhall to third baseman Jose Ramirez, through second baseman Jason Kipnis, was just in time to get Crisp diving head first. After an 84-second review, initiated by the Oakland dugout, the call stood, despite video appearing to show Crisp’s right hand making contact with the bag prior to the tag.

Melvin said he was in complete support with Crisp’s attacking approach:

“Absolutely not, and I thought he was safe. I still do. I went in (and watched the replay) and it looked to me like he was safe.”

Jake Smolinski immediately followed with a base hit up the middle. Vogt then reached on an error by Kipnis. But the first A’s rally was brought to a screeching halt with a Khris Davis strikeout — his third of four in four at-bats.

The speed of Oakland’s designated hitter may have actually hurt the A’s, but it was Cleveland’s lack thereof that prevented more Indians runs.

In consecutive frames — the sixth and seventh — the visitors put a runner on in front of an extra-base hit, on both occasions, however, the the lead runner was held at third. In their first attempt, Carlos Santana was unable to score on a Kipnis double. An inning later, it was designated hitter Mike Napoli who got the stop sign after a Chisenhall double. Neither slugger appeared to give any consideration to heading home.

The first rally snuffed came on a fly ball out from All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor. It was the final pitch from Triggs (ND, 0-1, 4.38 ERA), who threw 89 pitches.

Vogt said the rookie’s ability to silence one of baseball’s best lineups is merely his expectation:

“He’s a competitor. We saw that right when he came up. He has been a competitor for us all year, so I’m not surprised.”

Santana made up for his missing lead off-type speed with middle-of-the-order power in the eighth. Facing reliever Ryan Dull (L, 5-4, 2.34 ERA), the first baseman broke the scoreless tie with a homer (27) down the right-field line.

Despite his history-making season, Dull has shown costly susceptibility to the long ball, of which he has now allowed an Oakland bullpen-leading nine.

Triggs finished with a career high in innings, lasting six, while matching his career high with six strikeouts. Since transitioning into the rotation, the 27-year-old rookie has allowed just four runs in 15-2/3 innings (2.30 ERA).

Sean Manaea (4-8, 4.73 ERA) will take the hill against Danny Salazar (11-4, 3.57 ERA) as the same two teams will go at it for game two of the quick three-game Oakland home stand.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.