"We're playing embarrassing baseball," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "It's just bad. Offense, defense, pitching, everything. It's just not the way we're used to doing it."
The fall began with The Streak, an 11-game losing streak that ran from July 27-Aug. 7 and dropped Cleveland from 3 1/2 to 10 1/2 games back of first place in the American League Central. Then there was The Streak II, a nine-game skid that started on Aug. 14 and finally came to an end on Friday.
This stretch of baseball might now be remembered around Cleveland as The Collapse.
Thirty games. Twenty-five losses.
One crushed fan base.
"We've just got to play with a little bit more urgency than we are," Kipnis said. "We should be able to play spoiler right now and have some fun and be a little bit more relaxed. I don't know what's holding the guys back. We should be playing with a little bit more pep in our step, because we've got nothing to lose right now.
"We might as well go out there and have fun. If we're already going to lose every game, we might as well have a good attitude."
After dropping the second game in a row to the A's, marking the ninth consecutive lost or split series for the Tribe, the Indians sit 16 1/2 back of the AL Central-leading White Sox. The standings seem irrelevant at this point, except to show how far this Indians team has fallen below its expectations of contending.
"It's definitely frustrating," Indians rookie starter Zach McAllister said. "Obviously, everyone wants to win. No one is happy with how we're doing. It's frustrating, but it's something that you have to deal with right now.
"Hopefully everyone learns from it, including myself, and we're better off from it and more experienced. But it's definitely not fun and you want to change it around."
One evening ago, it was A's lefty Brett Anderson who led the way with seven scoreless frames to send the Indians to a shutout loss. Milone followed suit by blanking Cleveland over six innings of work, helping deal the Tribe consecutive shutouts for the first time since Texas did so on June 4-5 a season ago.
As a result, Cleveland dropped to 14-29 against left-handed starters this season.
The Indians -- with just 11 runs scored and a .207 team average over the past nine games -- had their best opportunity to find home plate in the fourth inning. Shelley Duncan led off with a single and Brent Lillibridge followed with a double to put runners on second and third base with no outs.
No problem for Milone.
The Oakland lefty struck out Casey Kotchman and Jason Donald, and then induced an inning-ending groundout off the bat of Kipnis to escape the jam unscathed. Milone surrendered seven hits on the night, adding a walk along the way, but he limited the damage.
Cleveland finished the night 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, dropping the team's average to .094 (6-for-64) in such scenarios over the last nine contests.
"Offensively, we just couldn't do much," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We couldn't execute at all. It started from the first inning. And then when we had second and third with no outs, we struck out back-to-back and couldn't put the ball in play. That really hurt us there.
"We need to score some runs now that we're pitching better. We have scored six runs [through five games] on the whole homestand. That's not going to get it done."
McAllister took the loss for the Indians after yielding five runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. McAllister piled up eight strikeouts, but he flinched too often within his abbreviated effort. The A's had a 4-0 lead by the third inning. That has proved a steep hill to climb of late, given Cleveland has scored three runs or fewer in nine straight games.
"I didn't locate as well," McAllister said. "I left some balls out over the plate, and they made it hurt."
McAllister allowed three consecutive singles to open the second inning -- the last in that series being an RBI base hit from Brandon Moss. Adam Rosales later added a run-scoring single with two outs to push the Tribe down, 2-0. Moss launched a two-run home run in the third inning and Chris Carter delivered a solo shot in the fifth.
Oakland added two unearned runs in the ninth inning against sidearmer Joe Smith.
In the end, the Indians were still left searching for a solution.
"It's hard," Kipnis said. "Guys are putting a lot of pressure on themselves to be the ones who snap the team out of the funk. It's go to be a team effort. Guys are just looking to -- I don't know -- they're looking to get back into it and get back into the flow of things.
"We're kind of waiting for things to happen. I don't think that's the way to go about it. We can't sit back and wait for a win to happen."