The Cleveland Indians used a Major League season-high 13 extra base hits and eleven doubles and scored in each of the last five innings in a 15-3 rout of the Oakland Athletics on Sunday afternoon, avoiding a sweep at Oakland Coliseum.
The Indians narrowly missed matching the American League record for doubles in one game in a two-base onslaught against Oakland starter Frankie Montas and the A’s bullpen. The big scoring rally from the Tribe included eight runs in the eighth inning and hits from eight of the nine players in the starting lineup. The one player who did not record a hit, former A’s outfielder Rajai Davis, contributed a beautiful diving catch early and saw his late inning replacement, Tyler Naquin, record one of the team’s RBI hits from his spot in the lineup.
The Indians provided starter Mike Clevinger with an early lead before he even took the mound. Michael Brantley started the doubles parade with a one-out shot to center. He moved to third on a fly ball to center by Jose Ramirez off of Montas, then came in to score on a single by Edwin Encarnacion. Yonder Alonso chipped in with a two-out single, his first of four hits on the day, but Lonnie Chisenhall struck out with runners on the corners.
Clevinger did not have an easy start on the mound, but Chisenhall made up for the missed opportunity to drive in runs by saving several. Clevinger struck out Dustin Fowler to start the home half of the first before Mark Canha singled to right to extend his hitting streak to ten games. Jed Lowrie drew a walk before a grounder back to the mound by Khris Davis for the second out. Matt Olson walked on four straight pitches to load the bases, giving the A’s a great chance at tying the game or taking the lead. Chad Pinder, the sixth man to bat, sent a fly ball towards the foul line in right. Battling the wind and the long distance to run, Chisenhall made a diving catch to end the inning, stranding the ducks on the pond.
The Indians’ right-hander took matters into his own hands in the second after a one-out single from Marcus Semien. With Jonathan Lucroy at the plate, he picked off Semien by plenty at first, then struck out the Oakland catcher for his second K of the inning.
Lindor doubled to lead off the third but was stranded. Clevinger cleared the bottom of the inning with help from Davis after hitting Canha by a pitch with one out. Lowrie lofted a fly ball to shallow center, where Davis made a sliding catch, then easily doubled up Canha from first to end the inning.
The Indians wasted another double in the fourth, this one from Chisenhall. Doubles would factor into the home half, however, as the A’s took a page out of the Tribe’s playbook for the game. Davis and Olson hit back-to-back doubles to knot the game at one. Clevinger would strand Olson at third after two outs in the air and the final out on the ground.
Cleveland responded in the next half inning to reclaim the lead. Lindor doubled with one out and Ramirez delivered a two-out RBI-double of his own to score the Indians’ shortstop with the go-ahead run.
Clevinger breezed through the fifth inning, setting the side down in order before the Indians added on to their lead against Montas. Alonso hit the team’s fifth straight double to start the frame and was sacrificed to third by Chisenhall. Yan Gomes struck out swinging for the second out, but Jason Kipnis came through with an RBI-double to center, driving in Alonso to make it a 3-1 game while ending the day for Montas. Yusmeiro Petit got the final out of the Tribe’s at bats, striking out Davis swinging to strand a runner in scoring position.
The Indians saw their doubles streak come to an end in the seventh inning, but extended their extra base hit streak to eight straight in the game. Lindor led off the inning against Petit with a big fly to right, his 21st of the season, to give Cleveland a 4-1 lead. Two outs later, Encarnacion cleared the wall in center with his 20th homer of the year to make it 5-1, giving the Tribe their third 20-homer hitter in the first half.
The A’s put up their biggest threat since the first after the stretch and cut their deficit in half while knocking Clevinger out of the game. Three straight singles from Matt Joyce, Semien, and Lucroy plated a run. Marc Rzepczynski, added to the roster prior to the game from Triple-A Columbus, struck out the only batter that he saw before turning the game over to Neil Ramirez. With runners on the corners, he allowed a fielder’s choice force at second, with Canha legging out the back half to avoid the double play. Ramirez would pitch to Lowrie, putting a ball in the dirt, but a good block from Gomes kept the ball right in front of him and he fired a seed to Lindor at second, who placed a lightning quick tag in a bang-bang play at the bag. The call was reviewed, but the inning-ending out was upheld with the score at 5-3 after seven.
All doubt was erased in the eighth, when the first ten Indians batters reached base safely to start the inning. Against reliever Chris Hatcher, Chisenhall singled and Gomes doubled to put two in scoring position. Kipnis was hit on the right hand by a pitch to load the bases and Naquin drove in a run with a single to left. Josh Lucas entered but could not slow down the Tribe, as Lindor walked to force in the seventh run of the game. Brantley singled home two and Ramirez knocked in another with a base hit. Encarnacion walked to load the bases before Alonso singled deep off of the wall in straightaway center to drive in Ramirez. Chisenhall plated runs seven and eight of the inning with a double to the left field corner before Lucas finally pulled himself together, retiring Gomes, Kipnis, and Naquin in their second at bats of the inning.
Santiago Casilla let two more in in the ninth. He walked Lindor to start the inning and gave up a one-out double to Ramirez. Roberto Perez pinch-hit and flied to shallow left for the second out before Alonso doubled to left, scoring both Lindor and Ramirez to make it a 15-3 ball game.
The Indians improved to 45-37 on the season and pulled back to 18-24 on the road this season with their tenth double-digit performance of their season. The 15 runs scored marked a new season high, exceeding the 13 runs scored in game two of their May 3 doubleheader with Toronto. They gained yet another game on the second place Minnesota Twins, who dropped a third straight game in Chicago against the Cubs to fall nine games in back of Cleveland. The A’s saw their winning streak come to an end and fell to 46-39 on the season. They remained eight and a half games off of the pace in the AL West.
Clevinger was able to work around some trouble with some fine defensive plays behind him before the Indians broke the game wide open late. He worked six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. The quality start and win improved his record to 7-3 on the year. The bullpen worked three scoreless innings of one-hit baseball after he left.
Montas took a tough second loss on the campaign. He lasted five and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Each reliever behind him added more runs to the damage, as Petit and Castilla were each charged with two and Hatcher and Lucas were both tagged with four runs each.
The Indians had big days all throughout the lineup. Alonso had four hits, including two doubles, driving in three and scoring once. Lindor, Ramirez, and Chisenhall each had three hits. Lindor reached safely five times (via two walks), scored four times, and finished with two doubles and a homer. Ramirez scored twice and drove in two. Chisenhall drove in a pair, as did Encarnacion in a two-hit day.
Cleveland had opportunities galore with runners on base, going 9-for-25 while stranding nine. They fell one double short of equaling their club record of 12, set in Minnesota in 1996. Lindor, Chisenhall, Ramirez, and Alonso all had two two-base hits in their efforts on Sunday.
“We kept the line moving. We hit the ball the other way, we hit the ball through the hole, we went first to third,” said manager Terry Francona after the game. “That’s a good recipe for us. They’re grinding and grinding so it’s nice to have something to show for it.”
The Indians will head back to Missouri for the final leg of their bizarre road trip, as they start up a three-game series in Kansas City with the Royals on Monday night. Corey Kluber (11-4, 2.54 ERA) will start the opener for the Indians against KC right-hander Jake Junis (5-9, 4.67).
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