A’s open up three game set in Cleveland Tuesday night at Progressive Field

Starling Marte the Oakland A’s outfielder slugged four hits that help pave the way for an A’s win on Sun Aug 8, 2021 over the Texas Rangers is seen here gesturing to the A’s dugout in the bottom of the sixth inning after collecting his four hit of the game (AP News photo)

By Jerry Feitelberg

The Oakland A’s are going to Cleveland, Ohio, to start a ten-game road trip. The A’s, winners of eight of their last ten games, will begin with three against the Indians (54-55). The A’s will then play three against the Texas Rangers and finish the trip with four against the Chicago White Sox.

The A’s swept the Rangers over the weekend. The A’s improved to 64-48 for the year. They find themselves two games behind the Houston Astros in the race for the AL West crown. In addition, they are now 1/2 game ahead of the Boston Red Sox as the number one Wild Card team. If the season were to end today, The A’s would host the Wild Card game at the Coliseum.

The Indians, who will be known as the Guardians next season, are 54-55 for the year. Last month, the two teams met for three games at the Oakland Coliseum, just after the All-Star break. The Indians won the series two games to one. Two of the three games were decided by one run. The other game was won by Cleveland 4-2.

On Tuesday, The A’s will be sending lefty Sean Manaea to the hill to face the Indians. Manaea, in his last start, did not fare well against the San Diego Padres. Manaea’s pitched well in his two previous starts before the San Diego game.

A’s manager, Bob Melvin, hopes Manaea will get back on track. The Indians will counter with righty Triston McKenzie. McKenzie is 1-5 with an ERA of 5.89. On Wednesday, Frankie Montas will go for the A’s. Montas beat the Padres last week.

Montas is 9-8 for the year, and his ERA is 4.10. His opponent will be Cal Quantrill. Cal, the son of former Major League pitcher Paul Quantrill, his 3-1 and an ERA of 3.14. Thursday’s game will feature the A’s ace, Chris Bassitt (11-3, 3.19 ERA), going against Dan Plesac (6-4, 4.84.) Plesac is the nephew of Dan Plesac, who pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers.

The A’s will be facing a team that is rebuilding. The Indians’ star shortstop, Francisco Lindor, signed a free-agent deal with the New York Mets. Their star pitcher, Shane Bieber, is on the 60-day Il. Their manager, Terry Francona, has stepped away from the team for the rest of the season. DeMarlo Hale is the interim manager. The team has a lot of new players that are not familiar to A’s fans. The Indians roster is made up of a lot of young players and a couple of older players.

A’s fans should keep an eye on third baseman Jose Ramirez. Ramirez is hitting .254 with 24 homers and 65 RBIs. Shortstop Amed Rosario is batting .270 to go along with six dingers and 32 ribbies. The other big bat is designated hitter Franmill Reyes. Reyes broke in with the San Diego Padres in 2018. The Padres traded him to Cleveland in 2019. Reyes’ line is .275/20 HR/52 RBIs.

The Indians’ bullpen has all right-handed pitchers. They are using James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase as the closers. Karinchak has 11 saves and Clase has 16. The veteran reliever, Bryan Shaw, has appeared in 55 games so far this season. Expect to see him pitch against the A’s this week. Hale will call Nick Wittgren, Trevor Stephan, Nick Sandin, Blake Parker, and Justin Garcia from the bullpen to shut down the A’s attack.

The A’s cannot afford to take the Indians lightly. They know the Indians can beat them. With the addition of Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, and Yan Gomes, the A’s offense has an entirely different look.

The A’s struggled to get clutch hits with men in scoring position before these three players arrived in Oakland. Marte had a walk-off home run against the Rangers Friday night. Yan Gomes, pinch-hitting in the ninth with two out and down to his last strike, came through with a single to tie the game. The A’s won that game in extra innings.

The A’s are playing well. Their starters have been pitching into the seventh innings. The bullpen has been outstanding—the A’s need to win the series against the Indians and the Rangers. They will have to be at their best when they play the White Sox. The Sox are in first place in the AL Central. They are cruising to the playoffs. The Sox will be gunning for revenge as the A’s eliminated them from the playoffs last year.

The A’s have momentum on their side right now. They know they are a good team. They know they can come back late in a game to win. They lead the AL in walk-off wins. Let’s hope they can have a successful road trip.

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