09/20/09 9:12 PM ET
Big innings still continue to plague Tribe
Five-run second inning sinks Carmona in finale
By Jane Lee / Special to MLB.com
Or, rather, the art of getting used to losing.
The thing is, though, the seventh-year manager won't allow such a thing. He doesn't worry about his players ever becoming accustomed to it -- not now or any other day, no matter how long the Tribe's loss column grows.
"When you lose, it has to hurt," he said. "It has to stay with you for a while. You have to be able to separate it every day, but when you lose a game it has to mean something to you.
"That's something we can control. There's a lot we can't, but that's something we can because that's a mindset, that's an attitude."
Unfortunately, the Indians have had ample time to familiarize themselves with said hurting process thanks to a 4-18 mark since Aug. 28 -- the most recent blow being dealt Sunday by a hot-hitting Oakland team that has now won seven straight and 12 of its past 14.
All unraveled early in the second frame, when the A's tagged Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona for five runs -- four earned -- after squirting bloop singles every which way in the outfield.
Perhaps nothing exemplified the Tribe's recent struggles more than an error made by Trevor Crowe with one out in the disastrous inning that led to an unearned run. With the bases loaded, Cliff Pennington flied a ball to shallow left field, where Crowe and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera met to grab the ball only to watch it fall to the ground.
"We were both going for it, and I thought I had it," Crowe said. "I called him off. I'm a Major League baseball player, I need to make it. If you get hit by lightning and the ball gets lost in the sun, you still need to catch popups.
"That's an easy out. Something like that really changes the whole complexity of the inning, so you really don't know how his outing was going to go had that ball been caught, and that's what's disappointing."
Said Wedge: "That's obviously a play that has to be made."
Crowe couldn't argue there, saying he would rather take an 0-for-4 day with four strikeouts than "have my guy on the mound, bases loaded with a chance to get an easy out, and you don't catch a ball that you should catch a thousand times."
That's just the way things have been playing out, though, for the Indians, who had never been swept in a four-game series in Oakland. Furthermore, the same can be said for Carmona.
The struggling 25-year-old right-hander entered the contest already on rocky terms, having surrendered 13 runs on 19 hits and nine walks through just 12 1/3 innings in his previous three starts. He wasn't much better Sunday, aside from his ability to work into the sixth, as he fell to 3-12 on the year after surrendering nine runs -- eight earned -- on 10 hits and a walk through 5 2/3 innings.
Following the second-inning debacle that left the Indians behind, 5-0, Carmona breezed through the next three innings before allowing the scoreboard to light up once again thanks to a two-run shot off the bat of Adam Kennedy and RBI doubles from Ryan Sweeney and Pennington.
"I like what he threw in the third, fourth and fifth innings," Wedge said. "We're seeing his progress, but he's gotta do a better job of controlling damage there in the second and a better job of finishing an inning there in the sixth."
When it comes to a strategy to finish the season strong, Carmona's plan is rather simple.
"I want to continue to pitch the way I've always pitched," he said through his translator, Indians first-base coach Luis Rivera. "You have to look forward to the next start and continue to move forward."
Meanwhile, the Tribe managed just one run -- courtesy of an RBI single by Travis Hafner in the fourth -- off Carmona's opponent, A's starter Dana Eveland. The left-handed pitcher, who was making a spot start for the injured Brett Tomko, limited the Indians to five hits and two walks through five to pick up his second win of the season.
Crowe added a run-scoring triple in the sixth, and the Indians scraped two more runs off Oakland's bullpen, but it wasn't nearly enough to save Carmona, who was almost pulled after that second frame.
"It was close," Wedge said. "But every start is an opportunity for him to find it. You take him out there in the second inning and it's another start wasted. We're trying to build toward something with him. That enabled him to go out there and throw through the fifth."
With the sweep, the Tribe has now lost 11 straight road games since Aug. 30. The Indians enter their final off-day of the season Monday having been outscored 44-21 on their most recent seven-game swing through Texas and Oakland.
"When you're playing, you don't really think about everything compounding," Crowe said. "But when you sit back and you see the losses and how we haven't been playing that good of baseball, I think everyone in here is frustrated."
Frustration can't lead to quitting, though. And Wedge believes his players are well aware of that notion -- or at least he hopes so.
"The way we played on this road trip, we didn't put ourselves in a position to win," the skipper said. "These guys need to regroup. The energy level is good, their attitude is good, but we need to work hard to come out and get a win on Tuesday."
Jane Lee is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.