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07/23/08 8:20 PM ET
Tribe topples in wild series finale
Offense posts 11 runs; Laffey tagged with seventh loss
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- Aaron Laffey said he won't be looking at the box score from Wednesday's game. That's probably good advice to pass along to Tom Mastny and Jensen Lewis. None of the three young arms were of much use to the Indians in a 14-11 loss to the Angels at Angel Stadium on Wednesday. The command troubles that have hounded Laffey the past month remained at the forefront, Mastny relieved Laffey and gave up a crippling grand slam to Jeff Mathis and Lewis let the Angels tack on the insurance runs that nullified the Indians' late attempts to rally. It all starts with the starting pitching, of course, and Laffey -- who was charged with eight runs on 12 hits in four-plus innings -- gave the Indians a start he'd like to forget, from a statistical standpoint. How he felt on the mound was another matter. "That's probably the best I've felt in the last couple starts," Laffey said. "They hit the ball well at times, but they also had some well-placed hits. It was just a rough day today." Laffey has had his share of rough days recently. He is 1-3 with an 8.37 ERA in his past five starts, and he's given up 16 runs (11 earned) on 21 hits in his past two outings. All of this inevitably leads to speculation that Laffey could be due for some Triple-A Buffalo retooling. The Indians have a roster move to make Saturday, when Fausto Carmona rejoins the rotation. And while it had been expected that Matt Ginter would be designated for assignment, Cleveland does have the option of sending Laffey back to Buffalo. "We're not going to decide anything right now," manager Eric Wedge said. "We don't need to do anything until Friday night after the game, at the earliest. We haven't made any decisions just yet." The Indians' bats decided to get Laffey some early run support off John Lackey, but it went to waste. They took a 2-0 lead in the first, and Laffey coughed it up in the second. And they took a 4-2 lead in the fourth, when Ryan Garko belted a two-run homer, but the Angels answered back with consecutive RBI singles from Casey Kotchman and Erick Aybar in the bottom of the inning. The Tribe once again grabbed the upper hand in the fifth, when Andy Marte and Sal Fasano each contributed an RBI single to make it 6-4. But the lead was lost and the game got out of hand for the Indians in the bottom of the fifth. Laffey, who labored all afternoon, let the Angels load the bases and was pulled by Wedge. In came Mastny, who hadn't pitched in 10 days. He looked rusty, as he immediately walked Gary Matthews Jr. to let one run in. Mastny then saw his first-pitch fastball to Mathis get pummeled over the left-center-field wall for a grand slam that made it 10-6. "You come into that situation, and you've got to be aggressive and make them put the ball in play," Wedge said. "Then when [Mastny] does come over, he gives him a pretty good pitch to hit." But the grand slam was nothing new to the Indians. They've allowed a Major League-leading 10 of them this year -- the most allowed by a Tribe team since 1951. "It's just a product of the way we've pitched, in particular out of the bullpen this year," Wedge said of the slams. "What I concern myself with is the three runners that got on ahead of him. That's where you've got to nip it in the bud. It all comes back to strike one and executing quality pitches. If you don't do that, you're going to create situations for yourself." Indians pitchers put themselves -- and each other -- in plenty of sticky situations Wednesday. Mastny left two runners in scoring position for Lewis in the sixth, and Lewis gave up a two-run double to Mathis that made it 12-6. Lewis allowed two runs of his own on a Howie Kendrick single in the seventh. Three Angels players -- Mathis, Kendrick and Casey Kotchman -- notched four or more hits, with Kotchman going 5-for-5. All of this served to negate a strong effort from the Indians' bats, which kept pouring on the runs even after the grand slam seemed to seal their fate. Shin-Soo Choo ripped an RBI double off Darren O'Day in the seventh, Grady Sizemore hit his 25th homer off O'Day in the eighth and Garko kept it interesting with a two-run single off Jose Arredondo. "We had some hard outs, but we also had some big hits and swung the bats well," Wedge said. "Our guys showed a tremendous amount of fight. To keep coming like they did says a lot about the guys in that locker room." Still, it was a quiet locker room, as an opportunity to take a second consecutive road series was thwarted by a pitching staff best advised to stay away from this box score.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.