Cleveland Continues Championship Pursuits With a Return to Oakland
Bob Toth | On 22, Aug 2016
There will be a rematch this week between the cities of Cleveland and Oakland, but this one should lack some of the firepower of that June matchup that brought northeast Ohio a shiny trophy and a fancy parade. However, the games are still plenty important as the Indians head to Oakland Coliseum to continue their pursuit of their own championship celebration against the A’s.
After a successful 8-3 homestand with six comeback victories, the Indians (71-51) will make their final trip west of Kansas City, Missouri, as they head to the Bay Area for the first time in 2016. The Indians will return to the road for a much shorter trip than they are accustomed to, spending the next seven days away from home before returning for ten games in eleven days. Owners of the third-best home record in the league, the Indians will look to improve upon a 32-28 record on the road that is one of just four plus-.500 marks in the league while sending the reeling A’s to a few more losses.
Anyone wondering why the Athletics (53-71) have had a lost season only need to look at their mile-long disabled list. Name after name has occupied the still-growing list of the walking wounded and it is a wonder that the A’s have not struggled more given the lengthy absences from some of the better names on the club. They dropped their last two games to the Chicago White Sox, but are still one game up in the division over the Los Angeles Angels, despite how bad the season has gone. The A’s have the fourth-worst record in the American League and have lost seven of their last eight games while going 6-13 so far in August.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Carrasco will start the series for the Tribe, hoping to ride the success of a strong road campaign so far in 2016. He has made nine road starts while posting a 5-3 record with a 1.97 ERA. The rookie Triggs will make his first appearance of his career against Cleveland. It will be start number four in his young career and his 22nd appearance of the season overall.
Salazar returns to the scene of his impressive victory last season, when he allowed one unearned run on one hit in eight innings, walking one and striking out four for the win. His other outing against the A’s last season was nearly as dominating, as in his two career starts against them, he has allowed just two unearned runs on six hits with 12 strikeouts and two walks in 16 2/3 innings. The 24-year-old rookie southpaw Manaea will be making his first career appearance against the Indians. “Baby Giraffe”, the former first round pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2013, is 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA in four August starts.
Bauer will face the A’s for the third time in his career while in search of his first win against them. In his one start against them in Oakland, he earned a quality start with six and two-thirds innings of one-run ball. He walked four and allowed four hits, but struck out six in the no-decision. Graveman has had no luck with the Tribe in three tries, posting an 0-2 record in three starts with a 3.38 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. He took the loss earlier in the season when he allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits with two walks and a strikeout in six and one-third innings.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; CSCA; MLB Network (Wednesday, out of market)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 95.7 The Game (Oakland)
Shawn Armstrong (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (August 20)
Michael Brantley (LF) – out for season (May 10) – recovery from right biceps surgery
Yan Gomes (C) – 15-day disabled list (July 17) – separated right shoulder
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 16) – non-displaced lower back fracture; on rehab
Josh Tomlin (SP) – activated from Family Medical Emergency List (August 20)
Henderson Alvarez (P) – 60-day disabled list (March 25) – recovery from July 2015 right shoulder surgery
Chris Bassitt (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 29) – recovery from May 2016 Tommy John surgery
Billy Butler (DH) – day-to-day – “nausea and vomiting”
Mark Canha (OF) – 60-day disabled list (May 9) – recovery from May 2016 left hip surgery
Sean Doolittle (RP) – 15-day disabled list (June 26) – strained left shoulder
Felix Doubront (P) – out for season (April 4) – recovery from April 2016 Tommy John surgery
Sam Fuld (OF) – out for season (March 25) – recovery from May 2016 left shoulder surgery
Sonny Gray (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 7) – strained right forearm
Jesse Hahn (P) – 15-day disabled list (August 5) – strained right shoulder
Tyler Ladendorf (2B) – 15-day disabled list (August 17) – sprained left wrist
Andrew Lambo (OF) – 60-day disabled list (July 4) – recovery from June 2016 testicular cancer surgery
Jed Lowrie (2B) – 60-day disabled list (August 4) – bunion on left foot
Jarrod Parker (SP) – 60-day disabled list (March 13) – recovery from March 2016 right elbow surgery
Josh Phegley (C) – 60-day disabled list (July 2) – cyst in right knee
Fernando Rodriguez (RP) – 60-day disabled list (July 4) – right shoulder strain
Eric Sogard (2B) – 60-day disabled list (April 2) – recovery from April 2016 left knee surgery
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians swept the A’s in a three-game series at Progressive Field in the final three days of July as the non-waivers trade deadline rapidly approached. Oakland made some moves the day following the series, sending outfielder Josh Reddick and pitcher Rich Hill to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Indians won 5-3 and 6-3 decisions in the first two games before a more lopsided 8-0 victory on July 31 to secure the sweep. The Tribe were rude hosts – they outscored the A’s 19-6 in the three-game sweep and readily outhit Oakland, .316 to .206. Of the six runs scored by the Athletics, four came via solo home run.
Butler has been out of the Oakland lineup, either suffering from a stomach virus or dealing with the results of the rumored clubhouse scuffle between him and Danny Valencia. If Butler can rejoin the lineup, it should help the A’s chances as he has consistently fared well against Indians pitching throughout his career.
In two starts in July, he was 3-for-6 with a homer, two RBI, and a run scored while drawing a pair of walks. In his career against Cleveland, he owns a .292 average with a .364 on-base percentage with nine homers and 69 RBI in 140 games.
This season, he has played in 79 games, hitting .286 with a .338 OBP with four homers and 30 RBI.
Khris Davis may be the offensive weapon of concern for the Tribe’s pitching staff as he has broken out with a career year for the A’s in his first season in the American League. Davis is among the AL leaders in home runs with 32 and has driven in 79 as the leading offensive weapon on the Oakland club. He is hitting .257, but draws few walks, working 20 free bases in 115 games.
The good offensive numbers were not aided much by the Indians’ arsenal of arms, who limited him to just one hit in 12 plate appearances. That one hit, however, was a solo home run.
Shortstop Marcus Semien has appeared in all 124 games for the A’s this season, a huge lift for an Oakland team depleted all year by injuries. His defensive work has improved from a year ago, when he led the league with 35 errors at shortstop. This season, that number is down to 16, but it remains the top mark in the AL.
At the plate, Semien is hitting .250 against Cleveland this season with a double and a solo home run. Last season, he hit .190 and the season before he hit .172. He has homered in each of the last three seasons against the Indians. He is hitting .240 for the season with career highs in homers (23) and RBI (55).
KIPNIS CRUSHED THE A’S
Jason Kipnis drove in as many runs in the three games in July with Oakland as the entire A’s team. His six RBI for the series was tops on the Cleveland club, as he did his damage by hitting .500 (5-for-10) with a double and a homer.
For the season, he has been one of the most consistent contributors to the Indians lineup and has steadily pulled his batting average up to .291 on the season. He has 27 doubles, 20 homers, and has driven in 67, second-best on the team.
NAPOLI PROVIDED POWER
Mike Napoli hit a pair of homers against Oakland earlier in the year while batting .400 (4-for-10) in the series. He drew two walks to post a .500 OBP over the course of the matchup.
Napoli is the run producing leader of the Indians lineup, hitting a team-high 29 homers and driving in 87 runs. His batting average has climbed to .260 for the season and his homer output is sixth-best in the American League.
Carlos Santana was limited to just one hit in 13 plate appearances against Oakland in their series, but the one hit was a solo home run, one of six hit by the Tribe against A’s pitching.
He needs just one more home run to match his career-high of 27 homers in a season (done twice). His 63 RBI are fourth on the team behind Napoli, Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor (64). He leads the club in walks with 66, off of his pace of previous seasons, but still ranks sixth in the AL overall in free passes.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
After a handful of three-city road trips this season, this week’s seven-games-in-seven-days two-city tour will feel like a piece of cake for the Tribe. The Indians will vacate the bay and head to Texas after the series, where they will play four games against the AL West leading Rangers. Oakland will take Thursday off before reporting to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for a three-game interleague series with the Cardinals.
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images