Indians Welcome Back Rajai Davis and His New Old Club, the A’s
Bob Toth | On 29, May 2017
The loudest ovation to come from Progressive Field on Monday afternoon when the Indians host the A’s may very well come for one of the visitors.
And that is absolutely okay and appropriate.
Rajai Davis and the Oakland Athletics will make their lone trip to Cleveland this season, with the veteran outfielder returning to the site of his two-out, two-run, game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off of Chicago Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman in one of the most dramatic moments in Cleveland sports history.
Davis relocated to the Bay Area in the offseason, but his efforts last season as a team leader, the league’s leader in stolen bases, and an unlikely postseason hero deserve the cheers that he will undoubtedly receive for his contributions to the Indians’ magical run through the 2016 campaign.
The Indians (25-23) have struggled at home this season, which may very well be a carryover effect from the heartbreaking finish to the postseason last year. They are just 9-13 at Progressive Field (the third-worst home record in all of baseball), but will hope to improve upon that against an Athletics (22-27) team that has won just seven of 24 games on the road this season.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Mengden makes his return to the Major League roster to fill in for injuries in the A’s starting rotation. He made his big league debut last season, but struggled in 14 starts, going 2-9 with a 6.50 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. He started the season on the disabled list after having offseason foot surgery to repair a fractured bone and had made four starts for Triple-A Nashville. It will be his first career start against Cleveland.
Carrasco had some difficulties in his first start after being bumped back with a left pectoral injury. In his no-decision against the Cincinnati Reds last week, he gave up just five hits in six and one-third innings, but he walked four, hit two batters, and gave up four runs. He will be making his fifth career appearance against Oakland and his fourth start overall. He is 2-0 in his career against the A’s with a 1.61 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP with 28 strikeouts and just two walks in 28 innings. He has yet to earn a win at Progressive Field this season.
Gray got a late start to the season after beginning the 2017 campaign on the disabled list. He has made five starts since returning in May, including four of at least six innings and three that have been quality. He is coming off of his best start of the year, when he allowed just a run on three hits with a walk and eleven strikeouts. He is 2-1 in five career starts against the Indians with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.
Bauer appears to have righted the ship with his play in May. He has averaged three runs allowed over his last four outings and has pitched into the sixth inning in each game. He allowed two runs his last time out on four hits in a no-decision, his first such outing of the year. He has faced Oakland three times in the past, losing one game while posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.
The 25-year-old lefty Manaea is coming off of the best start of his season his last time out on May 26. In that start, he threw seven innings of four-hit, scoreless baseball, walking one batter and striking out eight in earning his third win of the year. He has made one start against the Indians in his career and his numbers in that start mirror his last outing – he allowed just one run on three hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in the win.
The Indians’ 26-year-old second-year man will make his fifth start of May and his sixth appearance overall. He was dealt a no-decision his last time out after two home run balls by the Kansas City Royals put four runs on the board. He lasted five innings, allowing a season-high eight hits while walking a season-low one in a starting effort while striking out six. He has faced the A’s just once in a relief role and gave up three runs on four hits in an inning.
Cotton, a 25-year-old righty, made his return to the Oakland rotation last week and allowed just two hits in five and two-thirds innings to the Yankees. He took the loss, allowing three hits, and has earned a decision in every start this season. He has yet to face any of the Indians in his brief 13-game career.
The Indians ace and 31-year-old righty is expected to make his return from the disabled list for Thursday’s series finale. He made just one start in May and left that effort injured. He earned his first career win against Oakland last season, firing seven scoreless innings while allowing just five hits. He is 1-4 in his career with a 2.63 ERA against them in six appearances (five starts).
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Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 95.7 FM The Game (Oakland)
Abraham Almonte (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/16) – right biceps strain
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Lonnie Chisenhall (OF) – 7-day concussion disabled list (5/23)
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/14) – left wrist sprain
Corey Kluber (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – lower back strain; on rehab assignment
Chris Bassitt (SP) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – recovery from May 2016 Tommy John surgery
Jharel Cotton (SP) – recalled from Triple-A Nashville (5/27)
Sean Doolittle (CL) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – left shoulder strain
Ryan Dull (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/20) – strained right knee
Kendall Graveman (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/26) – right shoulder soreness
Jesse Hahn (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/24) – right triceps strain
Marcus Semien (SS) – 60-day disabled list (4/15) – right wrist fracture
Jake Smolinski (OF) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – recovery from March 2017 right shoulder surgery
Bobby Wahl (P) – 10-day disabled list (5/24) – strained right shoulder
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
In addition to the signing of Davis, the A’s made some moves in the offseason.
They traded utility man Danny Valencia to the Seattle Mariners in November. Outfielders Matthew Joyce and Jaff Decker were both inked to deals at the end of the month, but Decker has returned to the minor leagues after being recently designated for assignment. Reliever Santiago Casilla was signed in the third week of January. They added outfielder Ryan LaMarre on April 23 from the Los Angeles Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
A’S BY THE NUMBERS
Davis owns a .316 career average against his former teammate Carrasco. He has six hits in 20 plate appearances, including two doubles and two home runs. He is 4-for-12 (.333) against Bauer with a homer and four runs batted in. His offseason deal with the A’s came on the heels of a surprising season in Cleveland, where he led the league in stolen bases with 43 at the age of 35 and hit a career-high 12 homers. His contract with Oakland brought him back to the city after spending 2008-2010 with the club.
Trevor Plouffe is 5-for-14 (.357) against Carrasco with a double and three RBI. He has struck out six times in 22 career plate appearances against Bauer. He has batted .283 against Kluber (13-for-46) in his career with two doubles, three homers, and ten RBI. His strikeout total of 13 matches his hit total.
Khris Davis is 3-for-7 off of Bauer with a triple and a solo home run. He has struck out in two of his three trips against Kluber in his career. He is third in the league with 15 homers this season.
Ryon Healy has two singles and a strikeout in three trips against Carrasco.
Stephen Vogt is 0-for-7 against Bauer with three strikeouts and a double play ball.
Jed Lowrie is tied for third in the American League with 15 doubles.
The A’s are worst in the league with 49 errors. They have eleven more errors than the next closest American League squad.
INDIANS IN DETAIL
Left fielder Michael Brantley and shortstop Francisco Lindor will both bring active 12-game hitting streaks into this week’s action with Oakland. They became the first two players in the Majors to put together two separate 10-game hitting streaks this season when they reached the milestone in the past week. They were joined in that company by Cincinnati’s Zack Cozart.
Brantley is 4-for-11 in his career against Gray with two doubles. He is now eighth among qualified hitters in the league in batting with a .304 average and ninth with a .375 on-base percentage this season.
Lindor is fourth in the AL with 33 runs scored and fifth with 14 doubles.
Kipnis has hit .351 with a .393 on-base percentage and .684 slugging mark since being inserted into the top spot in the batting order. In those 13 games, he has 20 hits, including four doubles and five homers, and has driven in 13 runs.
Carlos Santana is just 1-for-13 in 15 trips to the plate against Gray with a single and two walks.
Edwin Encarnacion is 3-for-15 against Gray in his career with a solo homer. He has struck out twice and grounded into three double plays off of the right-hander. He is tied for second in the league with 30 walks this season. He has quietly put together a seven-game hitting streak, batting .370 in that stretch with a .433 OBP. He has two doubles, two homers, and four RBI during his recent tear at the plate.
Current members of the Indians have combined to go 0-for-14 with five strikeouts against Manaea.
The Indians are just 11-13 in May with a run differential of zero. They have scored and allowed exactly 95 runs this month after posting a +16 in the season’s opening action in April.
A FAMILIAR FOE
The A’s will return home after their brief two-city road trip through New York and Cleveland and will host the Washington Nationals for three over the weekend before welcoming in the Toronto Blue Jays for three games beginning next Monday.
The Indians will use their early getaway day start in Thursday’s finale to get a head start on their travels to Kansas City, where the Indians will play three with the club that they just finished a series with this past weekend. They will then move on for a tough two-game series at Coors Field with the Colorado Rockies.
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images