Series Preview #41: Cleveland Indians (65-56) at Oakland A’s (68-52)
Bob Toth | On 16, Aug 2013
After a much needed day off on Thursday, the Cleveland Indians will resume their road trip with a weekend stay in Oakland against the Athletics.
The Indians (65-56) have been able to keep pace in the playoff race, despite offensive woes that have adversely affected the outcome of many second half games. Entering play on Friday, the Indians were three and a half games out of the wild card race and six and a half back in the American League Central behind the Detroit Tigers. They are a perfect 4-0 against Oakland this season, sweeping a four-game set in Cleveland earlier in the year.
In the last week, the Athletics (68-52) lost their long lead in the American League West to the Texas Rangers. They have won just five of their last 14 games and, with the exception of 14 runs in Toronto on August 9th, have struggled to score runs. They trail the Rangers by a game and a half in the division, but are currently the second wild card team.
A.J. Griffin (10-8, 3.88 ERA) will start Friday night’s 10:05 PM ET for Oakland manager Bob Melvin. Griffin walked a season-high six in his last start, a no-decision against Toronto. The six walks equaled his entire total in six starts in July. Justin Masterson (13-8, 3.59) will oppose for Cleveland. He got the quick hook in his last start after allowing four earned runs in four and one-third innings against Los Angeles.
Dan Straily (6-6, 4.19) will take center stage at O.co Coliseum in Saturday’s 9:05 PM ET start. He has not won a start since July 9th against Pittsburgh and has lost four of his last five decisions. Ubaldo Jimenez (8-7, 4.11) will represent the Indians on the mound. He is 2-0 in three career starts against Oakland with a 3.57 ERA. Fans in attendance will receive a bobblehead of Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes.
Bartolo Colon (14-5, 2.97) will wrap up the season series between the two clubs in Sunday’s 4:05 PM ET first pitcth. He was tagged for six earned runs on eight hits in four innings in his lone start against the Indians this season. Scott Kazmir (7-5, 4.18) will work for the Tribe after being given additional rest in between starts after struggling with a tired arm in his last start. He is 10-5 in 18 career starts against the A’s.
The series will be broadcast on both Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Comcast SportsNet California. Radio broadcasts of the three games will be available on the affiliates of both the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Oakland Athletics Radio Network.
Cleveland clawed back on Wednesday to claim the series over the Twins in Minnesota during the week.
Rookie left-hander Andrew Albers shut down the struggling Indians offense, throwing a two-hit complete game shutout in a 3-0 Minnesota win on Monday. Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes were responsible for the only Indians hits on the night. Danny Salazar (1-1) allowed a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier and a two-run shot by Trevor Plouffe in the second to provide the Twins with all the runs they needed.
Cleveland scratched out a 5-2 victory on Tuesday behind a strong starting effort from Zach McAllister and scoring efforts in four straight middle innings. McAllister (5-7) allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings. Sam Deduno allowed five runs (four earned) over six innings, giving up an RBI-groundout to Michael Bourn in the third, an RBI-single to Michael Brantley in the fourth, another RBI-grounder by Jason Kipnis in the fifth, and a two-run home run by Ryan Raburn in the sixth. Chris Perez secured his 19th save of the season.
The Indians fought back from an early 4-0 deficit with four runs to tie it in the eighth and survived a blown save by Perez in the tenth with a go-ahead run in the 12th to claim a 9-8 victory Wednesday afternoon. Carlos Carrasco allowed four runs on ten hits and could not complete the fifth. Run scoring singles by Mike Aviles in the fourth, Brantley in the sixth and again in the eighth, and a three-run home run from Jason Giambi tied the game at seven all. Carlos Santana homered to lead off the tenth, but Joe Mauer, who was 5-for-7 in the ball game with four RBI, homered off Perez (5-2) to knot the game back up at eight. The deciding sacrifice fly from Brantley scored Nick Swisher with Brantley’s third RBI of the day. Joe Smith saved his second game of the season.
Kipnis had five hits in 12 at bats in the series with the Twins. He has reached base safely in eight straight games. He is the team’s Triple Crown leader, batting .293 with a team-high 15 home runs and 69 RBI.
Gomes is batting .457 since the break in 15 games. He had hit safely in five straight prior to going 0-for-1 with a walk and a strikeout in the extra inning effort on Wednesday.
The Indians are tied with the Tigers for fewest home runs allowed so far in the second half with 13.
Oakland threw a five-hit shutout on Thursday to prevent being swept by the Houston Astros.
A potential game-winning two-run home run by Chris Young was upheld as a foul ball on Tuesday, as Houston held on to a 5-4 win. Colon was chased after four innings after he allowed all five runs on seven hits. Cespedes finished a double short of the cycle. Young’s shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth was ruled foul, although there was some belief it may have glanced slightly off of the left field foul pole. After review, Young struck out swinging to end the game.
Houston robbed Oakland of a victory in extra innings on Wednesday, 2-1. Young hit what looked to be a walkoff home run, but Robbie Grossman pulled the ball back in left to keep the game tied at one. The Astros took the lead in the next half inning, as Carlos Corporan drove home Jose Altuve with the deciding run. The loss wasted a spectacular outing from Jarrod Parker, who allowed one run and struck out six in eight and one-third innings.
Sonny Gray earned his first Major League with, leading the Athletics to a 5-0 victory on Thursday behind his nine strikeouts and four hits allowed over eight innings. Nate Freiman, a former prospect with Houston, hit a two-run homer and had four RBI off of the Astros’ Erik Bedard and was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate in the game.
Freiman is batting .360 in his last ten days. The first baseman is in his rookie season for Oakland after making the jump from Double-A to the Major Leagues at the start of the season.
Josh Reddick has six home runs in the second half, including five in a two-game span in Toronto on August 9th and 10th. He drove in eight RBI in those two games.
Cleveland will head down the Pacific coast to Anaheim to play three against the Los Angeles Angels beginning Monday. Oakland will host the Seattle Mariners for three games beginning the same day.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images