Pitching betrays Tribe in loss

Pitching betrays Tribe in loss

CLEVELAND -- Tribe manager Eric Wedge wasn't around to see the ballgame end Friday night. No reason to be really, even if he hadn't been ejected in the sixth inning.

But a call that might have changed the ballgame's outcome sapped whatever momentum the Indians were building. They went on to lose to the hit-happy Rangers, 13-9, in front of 39,947 fans at Progressive Field.

For the Indians, the loss was their seventh in a row. If they were looking to find solace in this loss -- and they weren't -- it could come in the fact that their offense didn't look so offensive. The offense scored runs, although not enough to make up for the disappointing pitching.

"We had more runners in scoring position in the first couple innings than we did, probably, the entire road trip," Wedge said. "We still need to do a better job of getting them home."

Against the pitching-poor Rangers, nobody expected the Indians, as impotent as their offense has been the past month, to not score lots of runs. Everybody scores against the Rangers, who came into the ballgame ranked second to last in the American League in ERA.

Their pitchers did nothing to prove that ranking unjust.

Yet the Tribe hardly looked like a team with the third-best team ERA in the league.

Fausto Carmona reverted to an earlier form. After dominating in his last two outings, he again had trouble locating the strike zone.

"We knew he was good, but we know that he walks a lot of guys," Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. "That's something we knew coming into the game, and we made him pay for it."

Indeed the Rangers did. Texas used Carmona's wildness to put Cleveland in a 4-0 hole before it even batted.

Carmona walked a pair of batters in that four-run first, and he sandwiched those walks around Josh Hamilton's double.

With the bases loaded, he served up a double to David Murphy, a hit that cleared the bases. One out later, Murphy scored after Carmona gave up Chris Shelton's line single to right field.

Still, that was nothing compared to the problems Carmona found himself facing in the fateful third.

"We had more runners in scoring position in the first couple innings than we did, probably, the entire road trip. We still need to do a better job of getting them home."
-- manager Eric Wedge

He gave up a double to Milton Bradley to open the inning and then an infield single to Murphy. On the play at first base, Carmona strained his left hip. After one pitch to Brandon Boggs, Carmona headed for the clubhouse.

"We were up against it when Fausto came out of the game," Wedge said.

It might have helped the Tribe had veteran reliever Jorge Julio been able to clean up the mess Carmona left behind. Instead, Julio made matters worse. The Rangers went on to score seven times in the inning.

On a day the pitching let the Indians down, their offense found its form -- at least partly. The Tribe banged out nine hits and scored nine times.

Cleveland would have scored even more had umpire Damien Beal's call in the sixth, a call that got Wedge ejected for disputing it, gone the Tribe's way.

But Wedge seemed to have a point. The ball that Ben Francisco hammered into left-center with two men aboard appeared on TV replay to have hit the rail of the wall in what, according to stadium ground rules, is home run territory.

"He said it hit the top of the wall," Wedge said of Beal. "I said it hit the railing, which, obviously, it did."

Francisco's ball, had it been ruled a home run, would have cut the Texas lead to 12-9. Instead, Francisco, who went 3-for-5, ended up with a double, which scored one run. The Tribe would not score again that inning.

"It was a big part of the game," Francisco said. "You hope they get that call right. It was a tough break for us."

Wedge wouldn't argue to the contrary.

"It was big; it was," Wedge said. "It definitely changed the way that game played out, but it is what it is."

Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.