Oakland A’s Thursday report: The A’s open the second half of the season against Cleveland

July 13, 2017

MLB, Oakland Athletics

AP File Photo: JULY 08: Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) doubles to drive in a run during the fifth inning of the Major League Baseball game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians on July 8, 2017, at Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

by Jerry Feitelberg

OAKLAND–The Oakland A’s with a record of 39-50 resume play against the AL Central leader, the Cleveland Indians. The Indians, manager by former A’s bench coach, Terry Francona, are the defending American League champions and came within a whisker of winning the World Series last year. The Indians, as mentioned above, are in first place in the AL Central division with a record of 49-40 and are 2 1/2 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins and 3 and 1/2 of the Kansas City Royals. Most of the starters are back with the Tribe this year. They cut center fielder Rajai Davis, and he signed on with the A’s. The reason for that was the return of Michael Brantley.  Brantley is back, and he is joined in the outfield by Lonnie Chisenhall and Bradley Zimmer. The Indians made a big splash when they signed former Toronto Blue Jay, the power-hitting Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion started slowly but is now hitting .263 with 18 bombs and 48 RBIs.

The Indians infield is manned by Jose Ramirez at third base, Francisco Lindor at shortstop, Jason Kipnis at second, and Carlos Santana at first base. Ramirez and Lindor made the All-Star team this year and Kipnis has been there in the past. Kipnis, unfortunately, is on the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury and probably will not play in the series against the A’s.  The catching chores are handled by Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.

The Indians’ have a decent starting rotation. Carlos Carasco leads the staff with 10 wins and just 3 losses. He owns a 3.44 ERA  Righty Corey Kluber, a former Cy Young Award winner, has a record of 7-3 and his ERA is just 2.80. When Kluber is on his game, the opposing team usually loses. Other members of the rotation are Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevenger. The Indians have a strong bullpen. The setup guys are Bryan Shaw, Zach McAlister, lefty Boone Logan, and former Oakland A’s reliever, Dan Otero. The Indians rely on the big lefty Andrew Miller to shut down the opponents in the eighth inning and he has delivered s he has recorded 18 holds this season. The closer is Cody Allen, and he has notched 16 saves up to now.

The three games this weekend will feature three extremely tantalizing matchups. On Friday the A’s will send their ace Sonny Gray to the hill. The Indians will counter will Carlos Carasco. On Saturday, Plack Blackburn will pitch for Oakland, and he will be opposed by Corey Kluber. Blackburn is 1-0 in his first three starts in the Majors, and his ERA is just a minuscule 0.66. Kluber is a former Cy Young winner and is one tough cookie. On Sunday, the A’s Sean Manaea, who leads the staff with seven wins, will take on the Indians’ Trevor Bauer. Bauer beat the A’s earlier this season, but his overall record is just 7-7.

After the A’s conclude the series with Cleveland, the A’s face the very tough Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are currently tied for second place with the New York Yankees in the AL East just 3 and 1/2 games behind the Red Sox. The A’s would love to upset their apple carts. The next six games should be fun.

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About rxslugger

Retired pharmacist who now has a career as a sports writer and broadcaster

View all posts by rxslugger

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