September 24, 2014

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Indians notes: Zach McAllister in a rut as of late

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zach McAllister delivers against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Zach McAllister delivers against the Detroit Tigers, Wednesday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND — Zach McAllister’s promising start to the season has reached a road block.

The right-hander began the year at 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA over four starts, but he’s winless over his last six outings, offering up his briefest and most ineffective efforts his last two times out.

McAllister (3-4, 5.89 ERA) has allowed 12 earned runs on 10 hits and five walks over just 3 1/3 innings. He lasted two innings Wednesday after pitching a career-low 1 1/3 innings in his previous outing.

“I don’t know,” manager Terry Francona said, when asked what was at the root of McAllister’s struggles. “I want to talk to (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) a little bit about it. (McAllister) was on such a nice roll for a while and it’s been rough lately.”

“It’s just leaving some pitches over the plate,” McAllister said. “I know I can pitch better.

“If my stuff wasn’t there or I wasn’t happy with my velocity or my breaking stuff, it would be a lot more frustrating, but my stuff’s there. It’s just a matter of executing it now for me.”

McAllister vowed to go back to the drawing board and put in the hours to find the remedy to his ills as of late.

“If you just kind of crumble up and not work at it, it’s only going to get worse,” he said. “That’s not the way I go about my business. I go out there, work hard and try to get better. The next time I go out there, I’ll be ready.”

Rotation roundup

Because tonight’s starter Josh Tomlin was forced to pitch in relief Wednesday, the Indians will most likely promote a pitcher from the minors to make a spot start in the series opener at Baltimore, rather than move the rotation back a day.

“We need to talk through some things,” Francona said. “We’ll regroup and figure out where we go from here. We do obviously have to make some adjustments. We’ll get that all figured out.”

Tomlin (3-1, 2.91), who has pitched well since replacing Danny Salazar in the rotation, logged three innings out of the bullpen against the Tigers, allowing a run, while striking out six.

Wounded Wahoos

  • Second baseman Jason Kipnis (strained right oblique) is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday at Columbus. Francona said Monday that Kipnis, who has been sidelined since April 30, was a week to 10 days away from returning to the lineup.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera was hit on the knee by a pitch from Phil Coke in the 13th inning. He stayed in the game and scored the winning run, but Francona hinted that he might not play tonight.

Smooth operator

Indians left fielder Michael Brantley extended his home hitting streak to 18 games with a two-run double in the second inning. The streak, the longest in the majors, matches the Jacobs/Progressive Field record set by Kenny Lofton (1996) and Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar (2000). Julio Franco owns the club record of 19, set in 1984.

Brantley, who leads the Indians in virtually every offensive category and leads the American League with five outfield assists, is making an early push for his first all-star selection.

“Brantley just continues to be so good in so many areas, whether it’s defensively, on the bases, and certainly, hitting,” Francona said. “He’s just turning into a premier player. Brantley’s kind of getting in that boat where he’s one of the better players in the league right now.”

On Wednesday, Brantley became just the sixth player in Indians history to record four hits, three RBIs and two stolen bases in the same game.

Next up

The Indians hit the road for the next eight days, beginning a four-game series in Baltimore tonight at 7:05.

The Indians have yet to name Tomlin’s replacement, but the Orioles will go with LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 3.69 ERA) in the series opener, while Justin Masterson (2-3, 5.06) starts Friday (7:05 p.m) against RHP Bud Norris (2-4, 3.58).

Corey Kluber (4-3, 3.43) goes for the Indians on Saturday (12:35 p.m.), while the Orioles counter with former Cleveland pitcher, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (2-5, 4.50). Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.25) makes his third start for the Indians in the series finale Sunday (1:35 p.m.) against RHP Miguel Gonzalez (2-3, 4.53).

Minor details

Salazar’s first start since being demoted to Columbus did not go well. In the Clippers’ 5-3 loss at Syracuse on Tuesday, Salazar lasted only 2 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits (one homer) and three walks.

(bullet) Double-A Akron’s Toru Murata improved to 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA in six games (three starts) Tuesday, tossing six scoreless innings and allowing just two hits and three walks, while striking out five. The Japanese right-hander was signed as a minor league free agent in 2010, going 6-6 with a 4.19 ERA for the RubberDucks last year.

Roundin’ third

  • The Indians’ walk-off balk was the first in the majors since the White Sox beat the Royals on July 4, 2011. It was the first walk-off balk in extra innings since the Braves beat the Mets in 11 innings, June 16, 2011.
  • Tonight, 7:05, STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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