At least this one wasn't televised so only the brave souls who went to the game had to see it. In the latest installment of "How Low Can We Go?", Justin Masterson was battered for eight runs in four innings as the worst offensive team in the American League hung 29 runs in four games on the Indians, and 59 runs in the 10-game season series. The Indians fell to 2-8 against Oakland this season and the game was effectively over by the fourth inning when the A's scored five runs to take a 6-1 lead and cruised to an 11-6 victory in the series finale.
After Justin Masterson retired the A's in order for the only time in today's game, Jason Kipnis homered to lead off the ballgame. It was the eighth leadoff home run for the Indians this season and put them out in front 1-0. With two outs, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley drew walks against A's starter Jarrod Parker, but Casey Kotchman grounded out to end the threat. Too many times during this 32-game stretch, the Indians have let the opposing starter off the hook early in the game. That happened again today and it changed the complexion of the game.
The first of Justin Masterson's mistakes came in the third when Coco Crisp took him deep for his ninth homer of the season. It marked the second time that Crisp has taken Masterson deep this season. In the fourth, the wheels fell off. So many times this season when Masterson has lost his command, he has paid for it. He did again today. With one out, Masterson gave up a single to Yoenis Cespedes and walked Seth Smith. After Brandon Moss lined out, Masterson pitched around Josh Donaldson to face George Kottaras. Kottaras, the A's backup catcher, entered the game batting .196. As you might expect, he hit a bases-clearing double. The next batter, Cliff Pennington, hit a line-drive rocket just over the right field wall to make it a 6-1 Oakland lead. The eight and nine hitters got to Masterson in the inning for five RBI. That can't happen.
The A's added two more runs off Masterson on a Josh Reddick homer in the fifth before Manny Acta mercifully pulled the plug and went to Chris Seddon. Masterson's final line of eight runs over four innings with two walks and just one strikeout was the fifth time in his last 11 starts that he has allowed seven or more runs. Oakland added two more off Seddon in the sixth. The Indians got single runs in the fourth and fifth on a Jack Hannahan RBI single and a Shin-Soo Choo RBI ground out.
At least the Indians didn't roll over and die. They picked a three-spot in the sixth when Kipnis drew a bases-loaded walk and Choo plated a pair with a two-run single. It cosmetically made the score look better at 10-6, but the Tribe bullpen gave the momentum back immediately. In the seventh, Tony Sipp entered the game. He retired the leadoff hitter, but then walked the bases loaded, gave up a sacrifice fly to Chris Carter, and then issued another walk before giving way to Joe Smith. In all, Sipp threw 34 pitches, just 15 of them for strikes. Pitching coach Ruben Niebla was ejected in the inning.
Lou Marson singled home a run in the seventh to make it an 11-7 game, but Kipnis popped out with runners on the corners to end the inning. The Indians got no closer. Chris Perez entered and gave up a leadoff home run to Donaldson in the ninth, leading to today's 12-7 final.
With the loss, the epic failure of August 2012 continues as the Tribe is just 5-23 this month, and the record has gone from 50-49 on July 26 to 55-76 now. Justin Masterson lost for the 12th time. Jarrod Parker's five-and-fly earned him his ninth win.
Stat of the Night: Justin Masterson got in some good company with his start today. He joined Mel Harder as the record holder for most starts of eight or more earned runs in a season with five. Harder set the record in 1936.
Player of the Game: Jason Kipnis. Couple of hits, couple of RBI, and a home run.
Tomorrow's Game: It only gets better for the Tribe and their much-maligned pitching staff with the Texas Rangers coming to town. Friday night's matchup will feature Ubaldo Jimenez taking on Ryan Dempster at 7:05.