by Charlie O. Mallonee
The Athletics (49-40) won on Saturday afternoon in Cleveland, but they could not do it the easy way. It took them 11 innings and two late scoring barrages to down the Indians 6-3 in game two of the three-game series. The series is now tied at one game apiece as the teams prepare to finish the series on Sunday.
The A’s knew they were going to have an uphill battle on Saturday as they had to face “the ace” of Cleveland staff — Corey Kluber. Kluber — who has won two Cy Young Awards — started the game with a record of 12-4 and an ERA of 2.49. His WHIP was 0.88. None of those stats give an opponent hope of getting healthy versus a starter like Kluber.
The A’s did counter with their own starter who has become quite a headliner in his own right — Edwin Jackson. Jackson who is now pitching in 16th Major League campaign has become the big story for the Athletics. As he started the game, Jackson had not walked a batter in his two previous starts.
Neither Kluber or Jackson figured into the final decision of the game. Kluber left the game after pitching seven innings of shutout baseball. Jackson left the game after 5.2 innings having given up three runs (two earned).
Great starts need great bullpens to keep them intact
Cleveland manager Terry Francona tapped Neil Ramirez to take over the pitching duties in the top the eighth inning for Kluber.
Ramirez started off strong getting Dustin Fowler to strike out for the first out of the inning. Mark Canha came to bat next and singled to left field.
Jed Lowrie was the third hitter of the inning. Ramirez and Lowrie had a seven-pitch battle. Lowrie hit the 2-2 pitch over into the right field seats for a two-run home — his 15th of the season.
With the score now 3-2, Khris Davis was next to face Ramirez. Krush hit a 1-1 fastball 431 feet into the center field seats to tie the game at 3-3. The near-sellout crowd in the “Rock ‘n Roll City” became as quiet as a church. You may have been able to hear the fans in Northern California screaming as their team made their comeback.
Extra Innings are always interesting if not fun
Neither team mounted a serious scoring threat in the ninth or 10th innings.
By the top of the 11th inning, everyone was starting to get really nervous. The A’s had already used closer Blake Treinen in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Indians had lost their designated hitter because of moves with pinch hitters. The longer these games go, the more convoluted the managing moves become.
Josh Tomlin took over the pitching duties for Cleveland (49-38) in the top of the 11th. Matt Olson led off with a single to right field.
With no outs and Olson at first, Stephen Piscotty came to the plate to face Tomlin. Piscotty battled Tomlin to a 3-2 count. Piscotty hit the seventh pitch over the left-center field wall for a two-run home run to give the A’s a 5-3 lead.
Matt Chapman was the next to bat and he hit a line drive double to left field. Marcus Semien then grounded out to third. Chapman had to hold at second.
Jonathan Lucroy was the next hitter. While Lucroy was at the plate, Chapman was able to steal third base. Lucroy reached first on a fielding error by Lindor and Chapman was able to score the Athletics third run.
When the top the 11th inning was over, the A’s held a 6-3 lead.
The Indians went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 11th inning and Oakland won the game 6-3.
The win went to Blake Treinen who is now 5-1 on the season. He came back and pitched the bottom of the 11th as well for Oakland.
Lou Trivino gets special mention for pitching two strong innings of scoreless baseball as does Ryan Buchter for throwing 1.1 innings without allowing a run.
Josh Tomlin (0-5) was charged with the loss.
The long ball was the A’s best friend on Saturday. Lowrie hit his 15th, Davis his 21st and Piscotty launched his eighth homer of the season. Chapman powered up two doubles.
Matt Chapman has a perfect day at the plate going 4-for-4 on Saturday.
The RBI just keep on coming. Jed Lowrie added two more to up his total to 61 for the season. Khris Davis (58), Piscotty 2 (38) and Lucroy (25) all had RBI in the game.
Lindor and Brantley continued to tear it up for the Indians. Lindor is now batting .301 and Brantley is hitting .310 for Cleveland.
The series concludes Sunday morning at 10:10 AM PDT when Brett Anderson (0-2, 7.63) takes the hill for Oakland to face the Indians Shane Bieber (4-0, 2.97).