Jim Johnson doesn’t like pitching against the Cleveland Indians.
Coming into the second game of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader at O.co Coliseum, Johnson had faced the Indians 16 times in his career and was 0-6 with a 6.61 ERA and just five saves.
Those numbers got worse as Johnson was roughed up for three runs in just two-thirds of an inning, blowing his first save opportunity with the Oakland Athletics in a 6-4 loss that gave the opening series to the Indians.
Cleveland (2-1) had beaten Johnson on Monday night, as well, getting two runs to break open a tie game in the top of the ninth inning of their 2-0 win.
Johnson (0-2) has now allowed five runs in one inning of work—not what the A’s (1-2) were expecting when they traded Jemile Weeks to the Orioles in December to get the only pitcher in major-league history to post back-to-back 50-save seasons.
The loss also negated a run that came with everything but gift-wrapping and a bow in the bottom of the seventh.
That’s when it got … weird.
Josh Donaldson hit a routine fly ball into left-center field, but left fielder Ryan Raburn didn’t hear center fielder Michael Brantley calling for the ball and bumped into Brantley as the ball bounced off both of their gloves and clunked to the grass, with Donaldson ending up at second on what was ruled a tough error for Brantley.
Shaw threw a slider in the dirt that catcher Carlos Santana attempted to backhand, to no avail. The ball skipped away and Donaldson, who had taken an aggressive secondary lead, scooted down to third. After Jed Lowrie hit a hard grounder to second that Donaldson couldn’t advance on, Brandon Moss rolled a ball through the shift on the right side and just beat out the throw by second baseman Mike Aviles from short right field to Shaw, who was covering the bag. That scored Donaldson and put the A’s (1-2) up 4-3.
Johnson came on after Sean Doolittle worked a 1-2-3 eighth to try and nail down his first save for Oakland.
But he left a sinker up to Raburn, who slammed it to right field for a single. Nick Swisher then roped a single to right, as well, and Jason Kipnis grounded into a force out to leave runners at the corners with just one out.
Kipnis stole second base to take the double play off the table and Johnson walked Santana to load the bases.
Brantley grounded a single to right that was, at the least, going to tie the game. But Josh Reddick overran the ball and Kipnis streaked home from second to put Cleveland up 5-4.
After an intentional walk to Asdrubal Cabrera, David Murphy lofted a sacrifice fly to center field and that ended the night for Johnson, who for the second time in two outings at O.co left to a chorus of boos.
Oakland struck first, with Fuld—making his first appearance for the A’s—opening the game by rifling a triple into the gap in right center. He scored on Lowrie’s single and Lowrie was chased home by Yoenis Cespedes, who doubled to right.
The Indians got the runs back in the fourth off A’s emergency starter Josh Lindblom, who was recalled for the doubleheader from Triple-A Sacramento. Mike Aviles punished a hanging breaking ball, lining it over the wall in left to tie the game after Lindblom had surrendered a leadoff single.
Fuld put Oakland back on top in the fourth. Reddick singled and Nick Punto walked before Fuld lined a single to center to plate Reddick.
The Indians tied it in the seventh off reliever Luke Gregerson, who walked Kipnis—who stole second and moved to third on a hit by Santana. Brantley’s grounder to third brought home Kipnis to tie it.
The A’s remain at home Thursday, welcoming the Seattle Mariners to O.co Coliseum for the first time this year. The Mariners come in off a three-game sweep of the Angels in Anaheim. Left-hander Roenis Elias is scheduled to make his first start of the season for Seattle, facing off with A’s right-hander Jesse Chavez, who will be making his first start for Oakland after 39 relief appearances over the last two seasons. Game time is 7:05 p.m.