Created on Saturday, 17 May 2014 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach McAllister's downward spiral has reached rock bottom.
The right-hander allowed eight runs — including a grand slam by Josh Reddick — in 1 1-3 innings Friday night as the Oakland Athletics crushed Cleveland 11-1.
McAllister (3-4) gave up career-high tying eight earned runs, five hits, two home runs, and three walks in the shortest of his 59 major league starts. Since posting his last win on April 21, he is 0-4 with an 8.72 ERA in five starts.
"I'm trying my hardest, but baseball is a game of peaks and valleys, and I'm down right now," said McAllister, who started the season 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts. "I wasn't able to make any adjustments, I fell behind in counts, and they were able to get some balls in play and hit them hard."
Oakland sent 11 batters to the plate in the second, scoring eight times for its biggest inning of the season. Josh Donaldson chased McAllister with a three-run homer, ending his night after 54 pitches and just four outs.
McAllister had struck out the side in the first, and went into the second with the lead courtesy of a solo homer by Nick Swisher.
"He probably had all the confidence in the world, then things just go haywire for him," Reddick said. "That's the way this game goes. It's very humbling and can bring you down off cloud nine within a second."
Indians manager Terry Francona said he stuck with his starter as long as he could, but needs McAllister, who threw 38 pitches in the second, to take a hard look at himself going forward.
"You want to give a guy a chance to get through it, but it just wasn't happening," Francona said. "Zach lost the feel for his off-speed and wasn't locating his fastball in the second inning. He's going to have to be strong enough to look at these numbers of late and remind himself how good he is. He has to understand he is a good pitcher."
Swisher's first homer since April 12 was one of two hits off right-hander Sonny Gray (5-1), who went six dominant innings. Michael Brantley singled in the third, while David Murphy had a ninth-inning hit off reliever Jim Johnson.
Brantley returned after sitting out Thursday's game with a sore back. He had one hit in four at-bats.
The Indians are in last place in the AL Central, having lost four of six after winning a season-high four straight.
Before the game, Cleveland optioned pitcher Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus. The right-hander started the AL wild-card game last year, but was 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA in eight starts this season.
Left-hander Kyle Crockett, who was recalled from Double-A Akron, made his big league debut in relief of McAllister. He went 1 1-3 innings, allowing a homer by Jed Lowrie, and became the first member of the 2013 draft class to reach the majors.
"I wanted to get him out there and get (his jitters) over with," Francona said. "It came a little earlier than I wanted, though."
The Indians might have to recall another reliever Saturday after their bullpen was forced to work 7 2-3 innings. Carlos Carrasco went the final four innings and allowed Reddick's second homer of the game, a two-run shot in the seventh.
Reddick's grand slam was the first allowed by Cleveland this season. He went 2 for 4 with a career-high six RBIs.
NOTES: Indians 2B Jason Kipnis (right oblique strain) could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week, according to Francona. ... Cleveland CF Nyjer Morgan (right knee sprain), who was injured Wednesday while trying to catch a fly ball in Toronto, will not need surgery. ... Crockett is the second Indians player to make his major league debut this season. DH Jesus Aguilar was the first Thursday at Toronto. ... Oakland LHP Scott Kazmir (5-1) faces Cleveland RHP Josh Tomlin (2-0) on Saturday.