CLEVELAND — The A’s turned back the clock Friday, and that wasn’t a good thing.
They reverted back to some behavior that plagued them many times over the first half. An error, a wild pitch and a walk contributed to the Indians’ four-run seventh that turned the tide in this one and sent Oakland to a 5-3 loss.
The A’s packed all of their miscues into that one turbulent inning, otherwise playing sharp defense and getting back-to-back homers from Josh Reddick and Khris Davis to build a 3-0 lead. But there’s little margin for error against the American League Central-leading Indians, particularly in their home ballpark.
Cleveland is 16-5 at Progressive Field since June 1. The local fans, still riding high from an NBA championship, can sense another special season perhaps materializing for their baseball team. The Indians (58-42) currently own the AL’s best record.
The A’s made noise in the ninth, putting two runners aboard with one out against closer Cody Allen. But Allen struck out Jed Lowrie, then Reddick flied out to the warning track in right-center to end it.
Kendall Graveman went 6 1/3 innings and took the loss for the A’s, snapping his career-best six game winning streak. It marked his first defeat since May 19 against the Yankees.
Starting pitching report
Graveman (7-7) was in total command through six innings, giving up just a solo homer to Carlos Santana in the sixth that cut an Oakland lead to 3-1. Marcus Semien’s fielding error cracked the door open for the Indians’ go-ahead rally in the seventh though. Tyler Naquin followed with a single and then pinch hitter Abraham Almonte singled home a run to narrow it to 3-2 and chase Graveman from the game. He wound up being charged with four runs (three earned), two of them scoring after he left the game. His win streak ended, but Graveman’s line wound up looking worse than he pitched.
Marc Rzepczynski replaced Graveman with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh, the A’s leading 3-2. He walked Santana on five pitches, then allowed Jason Kipnis’ broken bat single that tied it. In came Ryan Dull, who uncorked a wild pitch to bring home the go-ahead run, then surrendered Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice fly for a 5-3 Indians lead.
At the plate
The A’s took the early lead when Reddick reached on an error and eventually scored on Billy Butler’s two-out single. In the sixth, Reddick lit into a 3-1 pitch from Trevor Bauer and homered to right-center. On the very next pitch, Davis blasted his 26th homer and third in two games to make it 3-0.
In the field
Graveman benefited from a couple of excellent plays from first baseman Yonder Alonso, including a diving backhanded stop to rob Carlos Santana and end the third inning. Teammates say that when Graveman is on, they like playing behind him because he throws strikes, generates ground balls and keeps the game moving along. That was evident through the early part of Friday’s game, as second baseman Jed Lowrie also turned in a gem, ranging up the middle and making a long, off-balance throw to first to retire Chris Gimenez. Graveman even helped himself, retrieving a comebacker that initially got away from him and unloading a quick throw to second for a force out.
On the flip side, Marcus Semien’s fielding error in the seventh put Rajai Davis on base and jumpstarted Cleveland’s four-run rally.
A crowd of 33,134 showed up on a terrific night for baseball in Cleveland.
Returning for his third stint with the A’s this season, Dillon Overton (1-1, 8.40) will take the ball Saturday and match up against Josh Tomlin (10-3, 3.48). First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m. (PT), an especially late start for a Saturday because the Indians will hold their Hall of Fame festivities before the game.