by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Athletics kept telling everyone the kid had power – tonight he showed it off
The A’s have won two consecutive games since the All-Star Break: Melvin’s happy
The game in brief
Cleveland sent veteran All-Star Corey Kluber to the hill to face the Athletics rookie Paul Blackburn who was just making the third start of his major league career on Saturday night. The game really belonged to the hurlers for much of the early stages. Pitching mistakes highlighted the runs that were scored early.
Kluber (7-3, 2.86) certainly would like to have the 2-1 offering back that Matt Chapman hit over the left-center field wall in the bottom of the third inning for the first home run of his MLB career. Kluber had not allowed a hit until the home run which put the A’s up 1-0.
The young Mr. Blackburn (1-0, 1.83) put himself and the A’s into jeopardy in the top of the fourth by giving up a leadoff walk to Michael Brantley. Edwin Encarnacion then followed up by taking the 0-1 pitch from Blackburn down the left field line for a two -run home run (19). Blackburn fought his way through the inning without allowing any additional runs but the Indians held a 2-1 lead.
With two out and the bases empty in the home-half of the fifth, Chapman hit a solid double to right off Kluber. Rajai Davis followed with an RBi-single to right and the A’s had tied the game at 2-2.
In the top of the sixth, Blackburn put himself back on the griddle when he issued a leadoff walk to Encarnacion. Jose Ramirez singled to right and Encarnacion advanced to third. Carlos Santana grounded to the right side of the infield but because the shift was on the only play was to first base. Encarnacion scored easily from third to give Cleveland a 3-2 lead.
A trio of A’s relievers finished the game for Oakland giving no runs on no hits and did not allow a Cleveland baserunner.
Kluber came out and started the eighth inning for the Indians. He was still looking strong as he had struck out 12 A’s batters. The first Oakland hitter was Matt Chapman who hit Kluber’s first pitch over the center field wall for his second home run of the night. That tied the game at 3-3 and chased Kluber from the contest.
The Indians were unable to score in the top of the ninth so the game remained tied as the A’s came to bat.
Cleveland reliever Andrew Miller walked Oakland’s leadoff man Yonder Alonso. Terry Francona pulled Miller and inserted Bryan Shaw into the game. The first batter to face Shaw was Khris Davis. Davis worked the count to 3-2 and then Davis hit the next pitch over the right-center field wall for a two-run walkoff home run giving the A’s a 5-3 win over the Indians.
The win guarantees that Oakland (41-50) will the series which concludes on Sunday.
The win goes to Ryan Madson (2-4, 2.06). The Indians reliever Andrew Miller (3-3, 1.60) takes the loss.
Take a bow
Come back out for an encore Mr. Chapman. The rookie third baseman was a perfect 3-for-3 in the game with all three hits coming off Corey Kluber. Chapman not only hit his first major league home run but he also had the first multi-home run game of his career. Do not forget his other hit was a double that turned into a run when Rajai Davis hit a single that drove him home. So, Chapman also posted three runs and two RBi on Saturday night.
Indians pitcher Corey Kluber does deserve honorable mention even though he did not figure into the decision. He struck out 12 hitters in his 7.1 innings of work while walking none. The reason Kluber also gets kudos is he threw 106 pitches (72 strikes). 100-plus pitches: “that’s old school” and it deserves an nod.
In the batter’s box
Khris Davis has to be brought out for a standing ovation for hitting his second walk-off home run of the season (the fourth of his career). It was his 25th round-tripper of the year to go with 62 RBi.
The Indians Edwin Encarnacion also deserves a nod for 2-for-3 game that included his 19th home run and two RBi.
On the hill
Hats off to the A’s trio of relievers who worked the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Liam Hendriks, Daniel Coulombe and Ryan Madson combined to pitch a perfect final three innings to give the Athletics a chance to win it in the bottom of the ninth.
Up next for the Athletics
The Indians and Athletics wrap up this three-game series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at the Coliseum on Rickey Henderson Field.
- Indians – RHP Trevor Bauer (7-7, 5.24) will be the starter for Cleveland. It will be his 18th start of the season and his first start in nine days. Bauer lost his last start 6-2 to the San Diego on July 5 when he allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits in 5.0 innings.
- Athletics – Oakland will counter with LHP Sean Manaea (7-5, 3.76). He lost his last start on July 7 in Seattle giving up three runs (earned) on eight hits in 7.0 innings on the mound. Manaea walked one and struck out three Mariners. He beat the Indians back on May 31 in Cleveland as he struck out nine Indians in seven innings. The A’s won that game 3-1.
For you long-range planners
Sonny Gray is scheduled to start the final game of the Tampa Bay series on Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. If you are a Gray fan, I’m just saying …
*Photos Ed Szczepanski – USA Today Sports