Brett Anderson returned from the disabled list on Sunday afternoon and combined with his Oakland bullpen teammates on a five-hit shutout of the Cleveland Indians with a 6-0 final from Progressive Field.
Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber was on the bump for the Tribe, but despite being aggressive in the strike zone, he was unable to keep the A’s off of the scoreboard for long as two early runs, paired with two more at the end of his day, gave Oakland a lead it would never look back from. The Indians offense could not get going against the A’s pitching staff, giving them back-to-back wins to take both the weekend series and the season set from Cleveland.
Oakland tallied its first run in the very first frame off of Bieber with a big two-out two-base hit. Mark Canha got a sun-aided single past Francisco Lindor to left with one out in the inning and, after a fly out from Jed Lowrie, came around to score on a two-out double from Khris Davis, giving the A’s the lead.
The Athletics increased their lead to two with another big two-out hit in the second. Matt Chapman started the inning with a double before a strikeout by Marcus Semien and a groundout by Josh Phegley. With Chapman standing at third, leadoff man Dustin Fowler reached on an infield single to Edwin Encarnacion at first, allowing the runner to score for the second run of the afternoon. Fowler would be forced at second on a grounder by Canha, but the A’s had a 2-0 lead.
The Indians went down in order against Anderson in the first, but they threatened to come through with a big inning in the second. Encarnacion reached on a Lowrie error and moved to third on a double by Brandon Guyer. But with a pair in scoring position and nobody out, Anderson struck back and got Rajai Davis to fly out, Roberto Perez to strike out, and Erik Gonzalez to pop out as both runners were unable to advance.
Bieber settled in after the two run-scoring two-out hits. He struck out a pair in the third, giving up a single to Matt Olson with two outs, and retired the side in order in the fourth with another strikeout.
The Indians missed out with their biggest opportunity of the day in the bottom half of the fourth as they would load the bases against Anderson and made him work. With one out, Encarnacion singled to shallow right-center. Guyer walked to put a pair on before Davis flied out for the second straight at bat. Perez worked a walk to load the bases, but Gonzalez could not deliver as he grounded into a fielder’s choice force to waste the threat.
Bieber breezed through the fifth with two more strikeouts, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning in his last frame on the mound. Davis singled to lead off the inning. Olson lined out for the first out, but Stephen Piscotty broke the game open with a two-run home run to right to make it a 4-0 game.
The Indians chased Anderson from the game in the sixth, but could not come through against the relief corps. Jose Ramirez singled to center, sending Bob Melvin out to the mound for Yusmeiro Petit. Encarnacion moved Ramirez to second with his second straight single of the game, but once again the Tribe lineup could not come through, as pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin struck out, Davis fouled out, and Perez struck out, leaving two more guys stranded on the bases.
Dan Otero relieved for Bieber in the seventh, but he could not get out of the inning after a good start to it. He struck out Fowler and Canha, but Lowrie worked the count to 3-1 before homering to right to make it 5-0. It could have been worse, as Davis doubled before Marc Rzepczynski walked Olson. Zach McAllister prevented further harm by getting Piscotty to fly to left.
While McAllister was able to work through the final out of the seventh, but did not have the same luck in the eighth as the A’s added on a fourth two-out run. After Chapman and Semien were retired, McAllister walked Phegley. Two pitches later, Fowler singled to right-center and Canha followed with a single of his own to center, driving in Phegley to make it a 6-0 game.
The Indians got runners on in the eighth and ninth, but again were unable to get a runner around. Encarnacion reached base for the fourth time with a two-out walk in the eighth. In the ninth, Gonzalez singled to center and moved to second on indifference before Greg Allen struck out swinging.
The win moved the A’s to the 50-win mark on the season against 40 losses and improved to 4-2 on the year against Cleveland with back-to-back 2-1 weekend series. The Indians fell to 49-39, while their lead in the American League Central dropped to nine and a half games with Minnesota’s fourth straight win.
Bieber lasted six innings in taking his first Major League loss. He allowed four runs on eight hits, walked one, and struck out seven. He threw 98 pitches on the day, including 71 strikes, and was ahead of 21 of the 27 batters that he faced.
His counterpart Anderson earned his first win of the season in his return from the disabled list. He worked five-plus innings, facing one batter into the sixth, and allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out three on 96 pitches.
Encarnacion led the way with two of the Tribe’s five hits on the day. The rest of the team, however, could not come through in the clutch as the Indians left nine men on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Indians will continue their ten-game homestand on Monday night, as the Cincinnati Reds come to town for three games. Right-handers Mike Clevinger (7-3, 3.11 ERA) and Anthony DeSclafani (3-1, 5.08) will square up in the series opener.
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