Bassitt takes step back in bid for A's rotation

Bassitt takes step back in bid for A's rotation

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- First baseman Carlos Santana launched his third home run of the spring, righty Zach McAllister gave a strong effort on the mound, and the Indians claimed an 8-3 Cactus League victory over the A's on Monday afternoon at Goodyear Ballpark.

Oakland right-hander Chris Bassitt, who headed into his start with a shot at strengthening his case for a rotation spot, labored from the outset. Bassitt slipped into a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, leading to a three-run outburst for the Indians. Santana helped Cleveland pull away with a two-run homer in the third.

The A's broke through for a run in the fourth inning, when Santana could not corral a relay throw at first base on a potential inning-ending double play. The misplay, which marked Cleveland's second error of the day, opened the door for Billy Butler to score from second base.

Butler comes home on error

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

For starters: McAllister continued his bid for a spot on the staff, logging four solid innings on short rest for the Tribe. The big right-hander struck out four and walked two, giving him 15 strikeouts against four free passes in 14 Cactus League innings. The lone run McAllister allowed was unearned.

"I felt good. I'm happy with where I'm at right now," McAllister said. "I'm very happy with my [command]. I think it's carried over from what I did in August in Triple-A and in September in the big leagues, as far as being really aggressive with all my pitches."

Indians manager Terry Francona liked what he saw from McAllister.

"[He was] good," Francona said. "He threw his fastball down and, off it, threw some good splits. A couple good breaking balls. ... To his credit, he comes ready. He works so hard that he comes out of the chute throwing pretty hard and it's not like he's overthrowing. He just prepares so well."

Bassitt hounded: Bassitt, already behind in the rotation competition following a pair of rocky outings, struggled again, allowing five runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. In a combined 12 1/3 Cactus League innings this spring, he's surrendered 12 runs and 17 hits.

"All lefties are looking out over the plate, and that's exactly where I'm throwing it," Bassitt said. "To get them off that, I have to throw it in, and right now we're just struggling to do that."

Doubling down: Lonnie Chisenhall connected for a two-run double in the first inning, giving the Tribe's third baseman six doubles in his last seven games. Chisenhall (3-for-3 on Monday) has found a rhythm with his swing, hitting at a .476 (10-for-21) clip over his past eight Cactus League games.

Cook crumbles: Ryan Cook stumbled again out of the bullpen, surrendering three runs on five hits to bring his spring ERA to 16.88. The right-handed reliever, who also greatly struggled at times last year, has been working to correct delivery issues.

Cook gets the double play

Crockett launch: Lefty Kyle Crockett returned to the mound for the Indians in the eighth inning, following a scare on Friday night. Crockett left that outing against the Angels after facing one batter due to a right hamstring issue. The young bullpen candidate bounced back with a clean inning Monday.

QUOTABLE

"I was told I'm going to compete for a starting job before Spring Training even started. That's all I've done. Whenever they tell me to pitch, I'll be ready to pitch. Until I know for sure exactly what's going on, I'll either be ready to start or to be in the bullpen. I'm just here to pitch and get outs." -- McAllister

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

Indians shortstop Jose Ramirez reached on a bunt single in the first inning. Last season, Ramirez finished tied for the Major League lead with 13 sacrifice bunts, even though he only played in 68 games for Cleveland.

WHAT'S NEXT

After back-to-back days in Goodyear, the A's will return to Mesa on Tuesday to host the Cubs at Hohokam Stadium beginning at 1:05 p.m. PT (live on exclusive MLB.com audio webcast). Veteran lefty Barry Zito, who has impressed all spring in his comeback attempt, will follow starter Drew Pomeranz. Zito entered camp as a long shot for the Opening Day roster but could potentially pitch his way into a long-relief role. Pomeranz remains in the hunt for a starting spot amid crowded competition.

Left-hander TJ House, who is vying for one of the two openings in the Indians' rotation, is scheduled to log five innings on Tuesday night, when Cleveland hosts the Giants in a 10:05 ET Cactus League tilt at Goodyear Ballpark. Relievers Scott Downs, Bryan Price, Jeff Manship and Austin Adams are also slated to pitch for the Tribe.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.