ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Cleveland Indians’ offense continued to struggle.
The Indians were shut out for the second consecutive game in a 6-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Alex Cobb allowed four hits in 7⅓ innings, Kelly Johnson homered for the Rays and Cleveland’s string of scoreless innings reached 19.
“We’re scuffling a little bit,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “At the beginning of the season those types of things tend to get exaggerated because you look at batting averages and things like that. The thing I hang my hat on is the guys who are scuffling, they’ve got a track record, and baseball has an amazing way of guys getting to their level.”
Cobb (1-0) struck out six and walked three, and Joel Peralta and Cesar Ramos completed a five-hitter. The Indians had just two hits Friday night.
Trevor Bauer (0-1) had control problems in his Cleveland debut, walking his first four batters and seven overall in five innings. The right-hander gave up three runs and two hits and had two strikeouts during a 105-pitch outing.
“It was a struggle for sure, but I did make some good pitches in key situations and got out of some jams,” Bauer said. “I had a rough first and third, and then after that I kind of found it again.”
A strong throw from right fielder Ryan Raburn cut down a run at the plate to complete a double play and enable Bauer to get out of his long first inning with only one run.
“It was a great play,” Bauer said. “I’m very appreciative of that obviously, and it kind of gave me a feeling of: ‘OK, I got that out of the way, it’s still close. Now go out there and continue to give the team a chance to win.’”
Tampa Bay got its first hit when Jose Molina had a one-out single in the fourth. Kelly Johnson followed with a two-run homer that put the Rays up 3-0.
Indians catcher Lou Marson left the game in the fourth with a cervical-neck strain after a jarring collision with Desmond Jennings.
“It was clean. He got me pretty good,” said Marson, who held onto the ball for the out. “He had nowhere to go. I had the plate blocked pretty good, but it’s just my neck is a little sore. No concussion.”
Marson was replaced by designated hitter Carlos Santana. The moves forced Bauer into the batting order. He struck out in the fifth.
Both benches were warned by the umpires in the seventh when Cody Allen hit Rays cleanup hitter Evan Longoria with a pitch. Rays manager Joe Maddon said “it’s pretty much a consensus opinion that (Allen) did it intentionally” but without orders from Francona.
That incident came shortly after Indians reliever Matt Albers had been ejected for arguing a call at second base.
Shelley Duncan had a sixth-inning RBI single for the Rays, and James Loney drove in a pair of runs with a double in the eighth.
Cleveland had two runners on in both the second and third innings, but failed to score after going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
“If we hit, we give ourselves a chance to win,” Francona said.
Bauer made the spot start in place of left-hander Scott Kazmir, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right rib cage muscle.
Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco, serving a six-game suspension dating from July 2011, had a bullpen session and will start Tuesday against the New York Yankees. … Francona expects 1B-DH Jason Giambi (lower back strain) will be activated from the DL on Tuesday.