By Charlie O. Mallonee
The Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of Oakland on Sunday by shutting out the Athletics 8-0. The Indians rode the strong starting pitching of Corey Kluber and the well timed hitting of the bottom third of the order to close out the A’s trip to Cleveland out on a down note.
The victory was the Indians 60th of season against 42 losses. The “Tribe” has now won three games in-a-row and are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The win gives them a 4.5 game lead over second-place Detroit in the AL Central.
The loss drops the A’s record to 47-58 – 11 games under the key goal of getting to the .500 mark. The A’s have lost three straight games and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. Oakland has dropped into last place in the AL West – 14.0 games back of Texas and 0.5 games back of the Angels in fourth place.
On the Bump
Sonny Gray looked strong in the first two innings of the game. He sat the side down in order in each inning and it appeared Gray was on track for a strong outing. Then came the third inning and the wheels came off for Gray.
Gray loaded the bases and then with one out, gave up single to right field to Jason Kipnis that was good for two RBI. Francisco Lindor then hit a sacrifice fly to center field that drove in Roberto Perez. Designated Hitter Mike Napoli then hit a two-run home run over the left center field wall to make it a 5-0 game in favor of the Indians.
The A’s were unable to find any runs in the top of the fourth to help Gray as he headed back to the mound to face the Cleveland batters.
Gray gave up another run on two singles and walk and his day on the hill was over. Daniel Coulombe came on in relief and gave up a sacrifice fly (run charged to Gray) before getting the final out. The Indians led 7-0 after four complete innings.
The Indians would score once more in the bottom of the fifth-inning.
Sonny Gray’s record fell to 5-10 for the year. Even more alarming his ERA rose to 5.84. On Sunday, Gray worked just 3.1 innings giving up seven runs (all earned) on eight hits. He struck out three and walked two. Gray threw 64 pitches (43 strikes).
Daniel Coulombe threw 1.2 innings in relief giving up one run (earned) on one hit while striking out two and walking two hitters. J.B. Wendelken worked three scoreless innings of long relief giving up just one hit, striking out three and issuing one walk.
It really was Corey Kluber’s day on the bump. The 2014 Cy Young winner was in great form as he threw 7.0 scorless innings distributing just five hits, walking just two A’s while striking out seven hitters. Kluber threw 103 pitches (67 strikes). It was the kind of performance that one would expect out of the number one man in the rotation of a first-place team.
The Indians used three pitchers to cover the eighth and ninth innings to close out the game.
In the Batter’s Box
Yonder Alonso had the only multi-hit game for the A’s. He had a double and a single in the game to raise his average to .250. Stephen Vogt, Jake Smolinski and Marcus Semien all hit doubles in the contest.
The A’s left eight runners on base and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
DH Mike Napoli was the man at the plate for Cleveland on Sunday. He went 1-for-3 with a 2-run home run, scored two runs, had two RBI and added a walk.
The number seven, eight and nine hitters in the order collected five of Cleveland’s 10 hits and scored five of their eight runs. That is a pretty productive bottom third of the order.
The Indians left six runners on base and were 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
In the bottom of the fourth, Lonnie Chisenhall was at first when Tyler Naquin singled to right field. Josh Reddick fielded the ball and then threw a bullet to third base to try to cut down Chisenhall who decided to challenge Reddick’s arm. Rookie Ryon Healy took the throw, put down the tag and Chisenhall became the first out of the inning.
Who goes – who stays
The clock is ticking and the phones are ringing as teams are desperately trying to make deals before the non-wavier trade deadline hits at 1:00 PM PDT on Monday. There are several A’s players that the “experts” think could be on the move.
The two most prominent names are still pitcher Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick. The new wrinkle involving these two players is that several teams are trying to pick them up as a package. Peter Gammons of MLB Network says the Dodgers have asked about the two as a package deal. Ken Rosenthal of Fox is reporting that the Blue Jays are also pursuing the pair as a package.
With Hill on the DL due the blister on pitching hand, some teams have asked about a conditional trade that would reduce the compensation to the A’s if Hill is unable to become competitive for the rest of the season. The word is the A’s have said no to those proposals. Hill is a “as is” with “no warranty” trade. You buy it – you own it.
The name of Danny Valencia has dropped off the radar in the last 72 hours but do not be surprised to hear Valencia has packed his bags and is on his way to a contender tomorrow afternoon. His productive bat is too good to be ignored.
The A’s traveled to Southern California after the game on Sunday and will have a day off before beginning a three-game series with the Angels on Tuesday.
Tue 8/2 @LAA LHP Sean Manaea (3-5,4.57) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (5-11,4.17) 7:05 PM PDT
Wed 8/3 @LAA RHP Kendall Graveman (7-7,4.15) vs. RHP Jared Weaver (8-8,5.14) 7:05 PM PDT
Thu 8/4 @LAA To Be Announced for Oakland vs. RHP Tim Lincecum (2-5,8.49) 4:05 PM PDT
The Indians will stay in Cleveland and will begin a four-game series with the Twins on Monday night.