A busy day under the Arizona sun ended a two-game winning streak and consequently, began a two-game losing skid for the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe lost both ends of their split squad doubleheader on Monday afternoon, including a 3-2 road defeat to the San Francisco Giants and a 14-4 home blowout against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Game recap - Giants: 3 Indians: 2
There was little to write home about from Scottsdale Stadium as the Indians could only muster two runs, both of which came off Matt Cain.
In the first inning, Greg Allen singled and stole second base before Abraham Almonte knocked him in on an RBI single to right field. A sixth round pick out of San Diego State, Allen finished the day going 2-for-3 with two stolen bases. He is batting .375 (9-24) with two doubles, one RBI and four stolen bases this spring.
The remaining offense came in the form of Erik Kratz's RBI double to score Bradley Zimmer in the fourth. Zimmer reached on a fielder's choice after Chris Colabello walked and manager Bruce Bochy swapped out Cain for Ty Blach. From that point on, Cleveland batted 3-for-17 (.176), grounded into two double plays and stranded three men on base.
On the mound, Danny Salazar was charged with two runs and showed little feel for the strike zone by walking four batters in 2.1 innings. Aaron Hill smoked an RBI double to center, Kyle Blanks blooped an RBI single to left and Jimmy Rollins and Jarrett Parker both walked to force Salazar's early exit.
The contest was decided in the bottom of the seventh frame when Blanks tripled and later scored off Shawn Morimando, the losing pitcher.
Game recap - Brewers: 14 Indians: 4
An inauspicious start to the 2017 campaign was not exactly what Corey Kluber had in mind.
The 30-year-old allowed the first four Milwaukee hitters to reach base on two singles and a pair of walks. Although he struck out his former teammate Jesus Aguilar, Kluber surrendered six earned runs on eight base hits in 2.1 innings of work.
"It's just getting familiar with the mound again," said pitching coach Mickey Callaway to reporters. "He's looked really good all spring in his sim games and stuff like that. Goal accomplished today. Not a great tone set, but he got what he needed out of it."
Perci Garner did not help Kluber's cause by walking three of the five batters he faced to allow two inherited runs cross the plate.
"Almost a little too methodical trying to control myself," Kluber said of his troubled first inning. "Really just going out there and getting built up, getting used to being in the game, face another team, all that kind of stuff."
Steve Delabar, Hoby Milner, Nick Pasquale and Chris Narveson did not alleviate matters either by surrendering eight combined runs on six hits. Aside from Milner's five-run unraveling, each of the other four hurlers allowed one run apiece.
"You don't want it always smooth sailing," Callaway said after the staff gave up 15 hits and issued 14 free passes. "Outings like this are necessary sometimes, so we can say, 'Hey, you've got to get ahead.' We got ahead, but four of our walks were 0-2 walks, and then we're kind of nibbling and stuff after."
Missed opportunities were the story of the game for the Tribe bats on Monday. Despite tallying 13 hits, only two less than the Brewers, the road nine could not capitalize in clutch situations and batted 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. 10 players were left on base and each of the four runs were evenly distributed in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings.
Jose Ramirez had a pair of hits and two RBIs in his two at-bats, Michael Martinez doubled twice and finished with a perfect 3-for-3 performance and Nellie Rodriguez singled twice to elevate his Cactus League average to .375.
Following 11 consecutive games played, the Indians will take a day off on Tuesday before returning to action on Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners at 9:10 PM ET from Peoria Stadium in Peoria, AZ.
Carlos Carrasco will look to get back on track in the evening affair when he opposes Hisashi Iwakuma.