Series Preview #33: Cleveland Indians (46-54) at Oakland Athletics (45-56)
Bob Toth | On 30, Jul 2015
After a 1-6 homestand for the Cleveland Indians, are you still reading?
If so, congratulations, you are in limited company and likely some sort of an Indians diehard as some Cleveland area fans write off the season and transition their attention to the beloved Cleveland Browns as training camp starts in Berea.
Meanwhile, the Indians (46-54) stare down the final 62 games in their season, still technically within one nice winning streak of the American League Wild Card race, yet having shown nothing this season to make someone believe that they sincerely have one in them to get back into the thick of things. For those who had some hope left, those may have disintegrated away in the hot summer sun during the week as the AL’s best Kansas City Royals took two of three as the Indians continued to look lost at home. Cleveland was thumped 9-4 on Monday, only to lose a tough 2-1 game on Tuesday before coming back with a four home run game in a 12-1 victory on Wednesday to avoid a dreaded homestand sweep.
Oakland (45-56) is having an equally disappointing season, expected to be back in a playoff race this season and at the top of the AL West, but now fending off the worst record in all of baseball, currently held by the Boston Red Sox. The A’s split their series during the week with the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning a three-hitter from Sonny Gray on Tuesday, 2-0, while losing in a slugfest on Wednesday, 10-7.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Carrasco struggled through his last start, allowing six earned runs over four innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox. He has been much better away from home this season, posting a 6-2 mark with a 3.10 ERA in nine games, including one complete game. He has a 2.05 ERA over his last four road starts, allowing just six runs while going 3-1. Bassitt, the former White Sox righty born in Toledo who attended the University of Akron, will make just his second career start against the Indians. He was good a couple of weeks ago, allowing just two runs on seven hits in six and one-third in a no-decision. He has allowed no more than two earned runs in any outing this season, despite three losses in his four starts.
Friday, 7/31, 9:35 PM ET – RHP Danny Salazar (8-6, 3.72) vs. To Be Determined
Salazar took a tough loss his last time out in a 2-1 final against the White Sox. He struck out eight for the third straight outing, giving him 31 strikeouts in 26 innings this month. In those last three starts, he has a 2.11 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .173 average. The first and only time he faced the Athletics earlier in the month, he went eight and two-thirds innings and allowed just one unearned run in a win. Oakland may start Kendall Graveman, whose turn it would be in the rotation.
Saturday, 8/1, 9:05 PM ET – RHP Cody Anderson (2-2, 3.26) vs. To Be Determined
Anderson will make his first career start in Oakland and against the A’s on Saturday night. He gave up a career-high seven runs on Monday in a loss to the White Sox. After allowing a 0.89 ERA and a .165 average in his first four career starts, the league may have figured him out. Opposing hitters are batting .419 over eight and one-third innings of his last two starts, leading to eleven runs on 18 hits (11.88 ERA), two walks, three home runs, and just three strikeouts.
Sunday, 8/2, 4:05 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (8-8, 4.13) vs. To Be Determined
Bauer, who has spent a portion of his downtime between starts destroying Royals fans on Twitter, threw his first complete game of his four year Major League career on Tuesday night in a tough 2-1 loss to KC. He allowed two runs on five hits, walked one, hit a batter, and struck out six in the loss, his eighth of the season and his third straight. He has been the pitcher of record in each of his last 13 starts. Sonny Gray seems to be the likely candidate for Sunday’s start. He is 11-4 on the season with an AL-best 2.16 ERA and two complete game shutouts, including his last start against Cleveland before the All-Star break and his last outing on Tuesday against the Dodgers.
Oakland’s Bob Melvin had yet to formally announce the rotation for the series against Cleveland beyond the Thursday night game. Graveman would have normal rest for Friday’s game and Gray would slot in for Sunday on his usual fifth day, leaving the need for a starter for Saturday’s game potentially.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network will handle Indians’ calls of all four games of the trip. Comcast SportsNet California and 95.7 FM The Game will provide calls in the Oakland viewing market.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. GB WCGB STREAK
Kansas City 61-39 .610 – – L1
Minnesota 52-48 .520 9.0 – L4
Chicago 49-50 .495 11.5 2.5 W7
Detroit 49-52 .485 12.5 3.5 W1
Cleveland 46-54 .460 15.0 6.0 W1
The Indians still hold a sizeable lead in the all-time series between the two clubs. They have won 1,023 and dropped 901 in their long histories against one another, dating back to 1901. Since moving to Oakland after stops in Philadelphia and Kansas City, however, the A’s hold a 266-230 lead, including a 139-101 mark at home.
The A’s took two of three when the clubs met several weeks ago, despite being outscored 9-8. Salazar earned the only win of the series for Cleveland, while Eric O’Flaherty and Gray each earned wins for Oakland.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Jesus Aguilar (1B) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (July 28)
Lonnie Chisenhall (UTL) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (July 30)
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2015 right elbow surgery
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 8) – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
Tyler Holt (OF) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (July 29)
Brandon Moss (OF) – traded to St. Louis Cardinals (July 30)
David Murphy (OF) – traded to Los Angeles Angels (July 28)
Michael Roth (P) – contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus (July 28)
Nick Swisher (DH) – 15-day disabled list (June 14) – left knee inflammation; has begun rehab assignment
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right shoulder surgery; has begun rehab assignment
R.J. Alvarez (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Nashville (July 28)
Aaron Brooks (SP) – acquired in a trade with Kansas City, assigned to Triple-A Nashville (July 28)
Coco Crisp (OF) – 60-day disabled list (June 5) – cervical strain; on rehab assignment
Sean Doolittle (RP) – 60-day disabled list (June 13) – strained left shoulder
Jesse Hahn (SP) – 15-day disabled list (July 6) – strained right forearm
Tyler Ladendorf (2B) – 60-day disabled list (May 22) – recovery from April 2015 left ankle surgery
Max Muncy (1B) – recalled from Triple-A Nashville (July 28)
Jarrod Parker (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 4) – recovery from May 2015 elbow surgery
Taylor Thompson (RP) – 60-day disabled list (February 26) – right shoulder strain; on rehab assignment
Pat Venditte (RP) – 15-day disabled list (June 11) – strained right shoulder; on rehab assignment
Ben Zobrist (2B) – traded to Kansas City (July 28)
Oakland, a team that seems to be active every year around the trade deadline, has been in the market of subtracting Major League ready players for prospects this season.
Former Indians pitcher Scott Kazmir was dealt to Houston last Thursday to start the trade season off. Reliever Tyler Clippard, acquired prior to the season from the Washington Nationals, was dealt to the New York Mets on Monday with cash for Casey Meisner. Utility player Ben Zobrist was dealt to Kansas City on Wednesday after a year and a half in Oakland.
The Indians have not been exempt from this approach, as the team has dealt a pair of left-handed hitting outfielders to contending teams and teams that they have done frequent business with in the past.
Cleveland traded David Murphy to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday for minor league shortstop Eric Stamets. It is the second straight season the Indians and Angels have paired up for a trade after an 18-year hiatus.
For the third time in as many years, they completed a trade with the Cardinals, sending Brandon Moss to St. Louis on Thursday. The team traded pitcher Justin Masterson there last season and minor league infielder Juan Herrera the season before for minor league outfielder James Ramsey in 2014 and reliever Marc Rzepczynski in 2013. It is the fifth time in the last seven years and eighth time in the last eleven years that the teams have paired up for a midseason deal.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Jason Kipnis destroyed Royals pitching during the week. He had three separate three-hit games against Kansas City, posting a combined 9-for-13 mark (.692) with two doubles, one RBI, and three runs scored. He extended his Major League hits lead, pushing his total to 131 on the season, and reclaimed the doubles lead, advancing one up on Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier.
Francisco Lindor is hitting .327 in the second half. He is tied with Michael Brantley for the team lead in homers (three) and RBI (ten) in that span. Speaking of Brantley, he has hit in three straight and five of his last six.
Something has gotten into Michael Bourn and has led to much better results at the plate in the second half. He has six hits in his last two games, including a four-hit ballgame on Wednesday. He was a perfect 3-for-3 stealing bases Tuesday night, his first three-steal game with the Indians. Since the All-Star break, he is hitting .400 with ten singles, two walks, two doubles, and has scored six runs in nine games.
Josh Reddick, A’s right fielder, has hit in three straight games with a pair of three-hit efforts in Oakland’s series with the Dodgers. He went 6-for-9 with two doubles, a homer, and an RBI. He has hits in eight of his last nine games.
Rookie outfielder Billy Burns is having a breakout season in his first full year in the Majors after a baker’s dozen last year. He is hitting .304 with 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts. His five triples lead the team.
Designated hitter Billy Butler is an extremely familiar face to the Indians after spending his entire career in Kansas City before signing with Oakland on a three-year, $30 million deal in the offseason. He is hitting .246 with nine homers and 46 RBI this season. He is a .291 career hitter in 134 games against the Indians with eight homers and 66 RBI.
Cleveland will continue its trip through California as they head down the west coast with a three-game stop in Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels. Oakland will stay put, hosting the Baltimore Orioles for three games on Monday.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images