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Game #144: A’s Lose Game, Record

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Kluber dominated the Tigers en route to Cleveland’s record-tying 20th win, and the A’s were utterly lifeless in Boston and lose 11-1.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

I’d rather devote words to the Indians than the A’s given how tonight’s game went, so I’ll keep the description mercifully short.

The A’s lost 11-1 in a callback to our series in Boston last year. As is tradition, Sean Manaea was absolutely destroyed by the Red Sox lineup, yielding 11 hits and 7 runs in less than 4 innings. At first it seemed he might just be getting unlucky, yielding mostly groundballs and soft singles - but it kept happening and the hits got harder until it became painfully obvious that Manaea was just toast. Simon Castro and Raúl Alcántara each gave up a couple runs - Castro’s partially due to an error by Dustin Garneau, and Alcántara’s on a Mookie Betts home run. Both of those facts represent trends in today’s game - Chad Pinder also committed an error and the team overall looked sloppy defensively, and Mookie Betts hit a couple of home runs over the Green Monster and drove in 6 RBI.

Offensively, the A’s did nothing. They scored the first run of the game in the top of the 1st (Pinder walk followed by Lowrie double), then accomplished absolutely nothing for the remaining 8 innings. They managed to load the bases in the 8th, but that’s the closest they came for the remainder of the game. Matt Chapman K’d 3 times, Oakland as a whole K’d 14. It was just ugly - truly an Oakland A’s road game.

As this was happening, Corey Kluber was leading the Indians to their 20th consecutive win, tying them with Oakland’s record set in 2002. Kluber utterly dominated the Tigers with a complete game shutout, a win emblematic of this unstoppable run by the Indians. The Indians pitching staff has an ERA south of 2 over the streak, and they haven’t even had Andrew Miller. And of course, Frankie Lindor came through with a leadoff home run in the 1st to set the tone.

I watched the 9th unfold on MLB Gameday - with 2 outs, Kluber gave up a double to Alex Presley and had to face Miguel Cabrera. For a brief moment I had hope - this is the same Miguel Cabrera that had an RBI in game 5 of the 2012 ALDS, and who hit a back-breaking home run against us in game 5 of the 2013 ALDS. But alas, he got a couple of curveballs in the middle of the plate and grounded out.

This Indians team is fascinating. Between their small-ish budget, bizarrely low attendance (24,654 tonight), pitching strength, and moments like Rajai’s miraculous homer in the World Series last year, there’s so much about this team that feels “A’s-y”...and yet this run has nothing in common with ours. In contrast to Oakland’s streak, which felt miraculous, Cleveland’s feels calculated. Our 20th win was a rollercoaster ride - Cleveland’s 20th win felt inevitable from the 1st inning. Our stadium was electric and Cleveland’s was...oddly subdued. This has been Secretariat-level dominance, honestly maybe the best baseball that has been played during most of our lifetimes - and it’s happening in front of a crowd of 24,654.

Watch the Indians. I was sad about losing the record when I started writing this, but the more I think about it, the more I’m amazed at what Cleveland is doing. We’ll still have our run - what they’re doing is something entirely different.