Season-high four errors down Indians
Sloppy defense, wild pitches contribute to loss vs. Angels
CLEVELAND -- The modified scoreboard on Hall of Fame Day at Progressive Field didn't have a place for errors to be recorded.The normally sure-fielding Tribe made sure to take full advantage of that. The Indians committed a season-high four errors -- three in the first three innings -- Saturday before 33,051 fans. They handled their scoring opportunities with the same lack of regard, stranding 13 runners. Add that up, and it amounts to a 4-3 loss to the Angels, a blown opportunity to clinch a series against a team that hasn't lost one in three months and just another new way for the Tribe to lose a very winnable game. "It's been very uncharacteristic of us this year," Wedge said. "We've been a pretty good defensive ballclub this year, but it got contagious there for a couple innings. "That just can't happen at this level." The Indians came into Saturday afternoon's throwback day -- highlighted by 1948 uniforms, non-working scoreboards and organ music in between innings -- ranked as the American League's best fielding team with the fewest errors committed (60) and the best fielding percentage (.987). But that number took a dip early, as the Angels got on the board early in the first inning thanks to a Jhonny Peralta error. He muffed an Erick Aybar grounder, which allowed Chone Figgins to advance a base before he eventually came around to score following a wild pitch by Fausto Carmona and Vladimir Guerrero's RBI groundout. After David Dellucci brought the Indians right back in the bottom half of the first inning with his 11th home run of the year -- a solo shot to center field off John Lackey. The wheels -- more appropriately, the arms -- came off the Indians' defense in the third inning. With one out, Ben Francisco fielded a Mark Teixeira single and launched a throw in the direction of third base. It never made it, instead landing in the camera bay, which allowed Aybar to score all the way from first. Teixeira came around to make the score 3-1 after Andy Marte's wayward throw on a routine Guerrero grounder sailed over Ryan Garko's head at first base. "It was ugly early on," Wedge said. "I don't think you can play any worse than we did those first couple innings." The damage was complete after Guerrero made the score 4-1 when he came around to score from second base on Carmona's second wild pitch of the day. "That was the difference in the ballgame," Wedge said. The victim of the Tribe's sloppiness was Carmona, who came into Saturday's game looking to find a remedy in the wake of some sloppy outings of his own. But he didn't do himself any favors, as his two wild pitches had a direct effect on two Angels' runs and the right-hander committed an error of his own in the fifth inning. But there was, perhaps, something to build off in this outing. Though he didn't strike anyone out, Carmona regained the command that has abandoned him periodically through this rough 2008 season, inducing a number of ground-ball outs and three double plays. "I was under control on the mound," Carmona said through first-base coach and interpreter Luis Rivera. "I stayed back and was getting ahead of the hitters. I wasn't trying to make the ball move, I was just trying to throw the ball and let it move by itself." "It was so bad early on ... but the flipside is Fausto kept going," Wedge said. "He gave us a chance to win the ballgame, even with us throwing the ball around like we did." So did Garko's two-run homer to left field in the fourth inning -- his ninth of the season -- which brought the Tribe back to within a run, 4-3. But the Tribe did its best to fumble away a number of scoring opportunities in the latter innings. None was more painful than the seventh inning. A Francisco walk, Peralta single and Shin-Soo Choo walk loaded the bases with no one out against reliever Darren Oliver. But no outs quickly turned to one when Kelly Shoppach went down swinging. "You've got to have your focus and concentration to a level where you at least put the ball in play," Wedge said. Garko showed that focus when he fought off a tough, inside fastball and lofted a hit to shallow left field. Aybar, though, flagged it down with a spectacular leaping catch for the second out. The momentum was sapped thereafter, as pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll grounded back to Oliver to end the inning without even a run. "I thought it had a chance to fall," Garko said. "He made a pretty good play. That's the way it goes sometimes." Garko had another tough hit taken away in the ninth inning against Major League saves leader Francisco Rodriguez. With Peralta on second and two out, Garko lined a hanging breaking ball down the left-field line that landed just inches foul. Two pitches later with the count full, Garko struck out on a changeup in the dirt. "As bad as we played early on, we still had our opportunities," Wedge said. "We just didn't finish anything off."
Andrew Gribble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.