With an injured list that is growing by the day, it’s becoming harder for the Cleveland Indians to pose a threat in the AL Central.
After getting a lift from the return via trade of Jim Thome(notes) in back-to-back wins, Cleveland came out flat Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Kansas City, tallying five hits - all before the fourth inning.
The Indians (65-65) remained seven games behind first-place Detroit, which also lost.
“We’ve still got six games against Detroit,” said Justin Masterson(notes), who pitched six strong innings in a losing effort. “We won this series, although today was a tough one. Detroit’s been hot, but we’re a team that can stay right there.”
Staying with the Tigers promises to be tough given Cleveland’s mounting injuries. They announced before Sunday’s game that Brantley will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to remove part of the hamate bone in his right hand.
“It’s a challenge, but everybody has their issues,” manager Manny Acta said. “I’m not going to sit here and complain. That’s part of the game. I knew we couldn’t survive some of those injuries. We have to continue to battle.”
Huff takes the mound for the first time since failing to make it out of the third inning in a 10-1 loss at Detroit on Aug. 20. He gave up five runs, four hits and walked four.
The left-hander hasn’t faced the Athletics since making two starts against them in 2009. He split the decisions, giving up five runs in 12 innings.
After losing two of three at Boston, Oakland (60-73) continues its road trip that began last week in New York. The Athletics were swept in a doubleheader Saturday after Sunday’s game was moved up in preparation for Hurricane Irene.
Oakland fell 9-3 and 4-0 in Saturday’s games. Although they were shut out in the finale, the A’s have still scored 39 runs over their last six games.
“The offense has come alive and stayed consistent to this point,” manager Bob Melvin told the Athletics’ official website, “and it certainly makes things easier on everybody when they’re scoring some runs.”
It has especially benefited the pitching staff, which has a 3-3 record despite a 7.96 ERA over the last six games.
Brandon McCarthy(notes) (7-6, 3.72) received some of that generous support Tuesday, allowing three runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 6-5 win over New York to improve to 6-1 since the All-Star break - largely due thanks to his offense. McCarthy’s ERA in the second half is 4.01, but he’s been supported by an average of 7.3 runs per nine innings.
The right-hander is 5-1 with a 3.55 ERA in seven starts against the Indians, but hasn’t faced them since 2009.
The Indians won two of three at Oakland in May.