The Cleveland Indians bullpen had to work extra on Friday and eventually just ran out of luck. Brad Hand, the team’s eighth different pitcher on the night, threw just six pitches and was taken deep to start the bottom of the 12th inning by Oakland’s Matt Chapman as the A’s defeated the Indians with a 4-3 walk-off celebration.
In a game that could have detrimental effects on the Indians over the course of their five-game road trip to Oakland and Chicago, Cleveland responded twice to Oakland scoring efforts, with the final time coming in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Cody Anderson burned through 68 pitches in just three innings of work, forcing the bullpen to send seven different relievers to the mound to work eight-plus innings. The A’s got a quality effort from right-hander Frankie Montas, while the final three Oakland relievers fired five perfect innings of shutout baseball while striking out five.
The A’s took the lead in the first after the Indians stranded a runner in scoring position in the top half against Montas. Oakland, which has seen the second-most pitches in the league, came out hungry and aggressive against a jetlagged Tribe team and jumped on Anderson early. Marcus Semien drove the second pitch of the night into center for a double and moved to third one pitch later on a grounder to second by Jurickson Profar. Chapman popped out to short before Anderson threw a wild pitch, allowing Semien to score the game’s first run.
The Indians responded with a strong inning of their own. Carlos Gonzalez, in his return to his former Oakland home, doubled to left and scored on another double by Jake Bauers to tie the game at one. Tyler Naquin moved Bauers to third with a single to left and Kevin Plawecki pushed Bauers across on a double play grounder to short, with the Indians taking a 2-1 lead on the play. Leonys Martin made it four hits in the inning with a two-out single to left, but Francisco Lindor grounded to short to end the frame.
Anderson could not protect his lead as the A’s put together a two-out rally in the second to respond to the Tribe’s scoring efforts. After a lineout by Stephen Piscotty and a strikeout looking by the team’s leading strikeout man Ramon Laureano, former Indians spring training invitee Robbie Grossman doubled deep to center. The first of three Josh Phegley hits on the night drove Grossman in to tie the game at two.
The Tribe’s spot starter had to work out of a big jam in the third. He walked Chapman with one out and hit Matt Olson with a pitch with two outs. He walked Piscotty to load the base, but he cleaned up his mess with a four-pitch strikeout of Laureano on a changeup to leave the bases full of A’s.
Montas allowed a base runner in each inning that he was on the mound, but he slowed down the Tribe’s scoring train after the second. Jose Ramirez reached on a single but was caught stealing in the third, Naquin doubled but was stranded after a two-out double in the fourth, Jason Kipnis drew a two-out walk in the fifth but was left on a fly out by Ramirez, and Carlos Santana started the sixth with a single but moved no further on two strikeouts sandwiched around a pop out.
The Indians had to go to their bullpen after three. Dan Otero worked the fourth and fifth, getting a double play ball to escape harm in his first frame. Neil Ramirez took over for him in the sixth, but after retiring Piscotty on a fly to right, Laureano launched a homer to the right of center to give Oakland a 3-2 lead. He put two more on via walks, but got out of the inning with no further damage.
Cleveland manufactured a run to near perfection in the seventh against Lou Trivino, on for Montas after six quality innings. He allowed a leadoff double into the corner to Plawecki, who moved up to third on a sacrifice by Martin. Lindor skied a 1-2 pitch to medium-deep left, where Grossman made the catch and fired to the plate. A good headfirst slide from Plawecki evaded the tag of Phegley to tie the game at three. Santana flied out with two on after a single and stolen base by Kipnis and a walk by Ramirez to waste another scoring opportunity in the inning.
Tyler Clippard retired all three batters that he faced in the seventh and Ryan Buchter handled the top of the eighth in similar fashion for the A’s. Adam Cimber replaced Clippard for manager Terry Francona in the eighth and nearly pitched himself into a mess as he allowed two hits and a walk in the inning, but got a double play ball off of the bat of Laureano after a leadoff single by Piscotty, and Semien grounded out after a two-out walk by Grossman and a single by Phegley.
Closer Blake Treinen came on for the A’s in the ninth, retiring the side in order. Cimber returned for the home half and gave up a leadoff single to Profar before getting Chapman to line to right. Oliver Perez go the next two to send the game to extras.
Treinen and Joakim Soria pitched two perfect innings as the A’s retired the final 16 batters in a row. Nick Wittgren pitched the tenth and eleventh for the Indians, retiring all six that he faced with two strikeouts before Chapman crushed a 3-2 slider in the nitro zone 427 feet into the seats in left.
Oakland moved to 18-22 on the year and 13-9 at home. Cleveland fell to 20-17 and just 9-10 on the road this season.
Hand took the loss, moving him to 2-2, after his six-pitch outing. Soria’s two perfect innings of relief with three strikeouts earned him his first win of the season.
Anderson lasted just three innings for the Indians, taxing their bullpen for a second straight start. He threw 68 pitches, 45 for strikes, while facing 16 batters. He allowed two runs on three hits, walking three and striking out three. The bullpen allowed just two runs over the final eight-plus frames, giving up seven hits and three walks while striking out three.
Montas worked around base traffic throughout the game to give the A’s a quality start. He pitched six innings, allowing two runs on eight hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. Trivino was tagged for a blown save (his first) after allowing the tying run to score just three batters into his outing in the seventh.
The A’s were without the services of outfielder Khris Davis, who was out of the lineup again while nursing a left hip contusion.
The two teams will wrap up the series with a pair of afternoon starts over the next two days. The Athletics will send right-hander Aaron Brooks (2-3, 5.74 ERA) will make his first start since April 30 after being skipped in the rotation. The Indians will look to righty Trevor Bauer (4-2, 3.42) in his first start since being pummeled by the Chicago White Sox earlier in the week.
Game time from Oakland Coliseum on Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET and can be seen on FS1.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images