CLEVELAND — If you’re playing the blame game, there was plenty to go around for the Indians on Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.
Closer Cody Allen allowed the game-tying run in the ninth inning on a double from Colorado’s Jonathan Lucroy that center fielder Bradley Zimmer misplayed to help Carlos Gonzalez score from first base.
Right-hander Zach McAllister surrendered the game-winning home run to Charlie Blackmon in the 12th inning.
But it was another weak effort from an inconsistent offense that loomed largest in a 3-2 loss to the Rockies in Cleveland’s final interleague game of the season.
Wasting another sparkling effort from right-hander Trevor Bauer, the Indians went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base. Cleveland has gone scoreless in 31 of its last 35 innings.
“Bauer is doing a tremendous job, as well as (Corey) Kluber, (Carlos) Carrasco, everybody. Everybody on the pitching staff is doing a great job … (Danny) Salazar. We have to help them,” said Francisco Lindor, whose 20th homer in the third inning accounted for Cleveland’s entire run total. “We’re not helping them. That’s one of the reasons why we’re losing games.
“It’s tough. The past couple of days, we’ve probably left at least 19 to 20 runners on base. That’s something we have to get better at. I have to get better at it.”
The Indians had opportunities to provide a cushion for Allen in the ninth, but squandered each chance.
They put the first two aboard in the fourth inning and didn’t score, then had two on for Edwin Encarnacion, who lined out to third to end the fifth. They left the bases loaded in the eighth and had no hits and only one baserunner over the final four innings.
“When you don’t score, I’m not sure you can pick a way that’s more (frustrating),” manager Terry Francona said of his team’s inability to produce with runners in scoring position. “I’d rather have guys on than not. We hit some balls (hard). It seemed like (third baseman Nolan) Arenado was standing right where we (hit it). But, saying that, we also had some other opportunities where we didn’t square a ball up or struck out. So, yeah, we should’ve done more with what we had today.
“I think a lot of teams go through that. For obvious reasons, we fixate on us, which I understand. Again, I think that’s the game of baseball. I think we’re kind of middle of the pack as far as offense goes. Sometimes you get to it different ways.”
Bauer continued a string of stellar starts, pitching into the eighth inning and allowing just a run on seven hits while striking out nine without a walk.
Over his last three starts covering 22 innings, Bauer has allowed only three earned runs on 21 hits while striking out 22. Over his last 10 starts — even after allowing four runs in 2/3 of an inning to begin the second half — he has posted a 3.39 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 581⁄3 innings.
“He has been really good lately, for the most part,” Francona said. “There’s been a hiccup, but just about everybody but Kluber has them.”
“(I’m) glad to be contributing to our chances to win, that’s for sure,” Bauer said. “I’ve been pitching better, the results are better. I felt like I was pitching a lot better than the results to that point, as well.”
Allen blew his third save in 22 opportunities, but he had an assist from Zimmer, who in an attempt to cut off Lucroy’s drive to the gap in right-center, slipped and had the ball get away from him. Had he fielded it cleanly, the tying run wouldn’t have scored.
McAllister retired the first two in the 12th before Blackmon connected on an 0-1 pitch.
Cleveland’s relief corps has come under fire often in the second half, especially Allen and right-hander Bryan Shaw.
The Indians posted one of the worst interleague records in the majors, going 6-14.