A's strike early to clinch series over Indians

A's strike early to clinch series over Indians

OAKLAND -- The Indians traveled to the Coliseum this week with a chance to pick up some wins against an A's team that has struggled all season. Cleveland did not expect to run into the kind of pitching it did in Oakland, where the A's took two of three in the series after a 5-1 win on Wednesday afternoon.

"Boy, hopefully we just have three days of amnesia," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You've got to give them some credit. They did a number on us."

Righty Kendall Graveman logged 6 2/3 solid innings against the Indians, out-pitching Tribe righty Trevor Bauer and continuing the rotation's success this series. The trio of Andrew Triggs, Sean Manaea and Graveman combined for a 0.92 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and .179 opponents' average in 19 2/3 combined innings against the American League Central-leading Indians.

"Pretty amazing what we got against this team," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Not only do they have speed, a certain amount of power, they have a bunch of switch-hitters. It's almost impossible to get your matchups against these guys. For us to pitch as well as we did is pretty impressive."

Graveman's lone mistake came courtesy of a solo homer by Cleveland's Roberto Perez in the seventh inning.

Bauer was charged with five runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings for the Indians, whose division lead over Detroit was trimmed to six games, pending the result of the Tigers' game against the Twins. The righty struck out three, walked two and allowed all five runs in the second inning.

Usual suspects strike again: The A's two hottest hitters, Khris Davis and Ryon Healy, ignited the five-run second inning against Bauer. And for the second straight day, a pair of rookies followed closely behind. Davis led off the inning with a triple to right field and Healy, who has an 11-game hitting streak, drove him in with an RBI single. Max Muncy and Chad Pinder followed with RBIs of their own, giving Oakland a 3-0 lead. Davis is hitting .354 over his last 13 games with six homers during that stretch, while Healy is batting .415 during his hitting streak.

Davis' triple to right-center

Santana's blunder: With two outs and Oakland up 3-0 in the second, Bauer had a chance to escape when he induced a popup over the infield off the bat of Danny Valencia. First baseman Carlos Santana charged in, but he overran the fly ball, which dropped to the grass as he lunged back in an effort to make the catch. Two runs scored on the play, which was later deemed an error, making both runs unearned.

"I thought I was out of it. I tried to minimize, and it didn't work out," Bauer said. "So, I tried to keep going out there and keep throwing innings after that. Unfortunately, we weren't able to come back today. We've [come back] a lot lately."

Santana loses battle with sun

Perez's solo shot: Over the three games against the A's, Cleveland scored all three of its runs via solo homers. Wednesday's arrived in the seventh, when Perez sent a pitch from Graveman just over the wall in right field to put the Indians on the board. A brief crew-chief review confirmed that the ball did indeed clear the fence. The blast was the first of the year for the Indians' catcher.

"That particular part of the fence, right behind it, is out of play," Melvin said. "It's the only place in the ballpark where you have that metal piece behind it. It ended up affecting us." More >

Perez's solo home run

Graveman's stretch continues: Perez's homer snapped Graveman's 15-inning scoreless streak, but it wasn't enough to overshadow yet another strong start from the 25-year-old righty. Graveman is 9-2 over his last 15 starts, has walked two batters or fewer in 14 of those outings and dipped his ERA (3.97) below 4.00 for the first time since April 25. He has become Oakland's most reliable starting pitcher this season.

"He's been great," A's catcher Stephen Vogt said. "We all see him developing into this guy right now, and he's only going to get better. He's smart, he's understanding, he's slowed himself down a lot. That's the one thing I've noticed. He used to always be in such a rush. And when he gets in a rhythm, it's perfect. Sometimes he can work too quick. But he's doing a great job of finding that medium balance." More >

Graveman's strong outing

"That's tough to go from playing a really intense, emotional series at home -- two very emotional wins -- [and] travel across country. It's hard to get up. I think you probably saw a little bit of that maybe this series. I don't think anybody here is worried about that continuing the rest of this season. It's just tough when you travel all the way across country. We'll be fine." -- Bauer

This marks the first time this season that the Indians scored one run or fewer in three consecutive games. Cleveland had not done that since June 19-21, 2015, when the Rays held the Tribe to three total runs in three games. The Indians entered Wednesday with 618 runs, which was tied for the fourth-highest mark in the Majors (second in the AL).

With no outs and a runner on first in the ninth, pinch-hitter Abraham Almonte hit a sharp grounder to A's first baseman Yonder Alonso, who made a slick grab and initiated a 3-6-3 double play. The Indians challenged the out ruling, but the call on the field stood after a replay review lasting 49 seconds.

A's double play stands

Indians: Righty Josh Tomlin (11-7, 4.39 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe in an 8:05 p.m. ET tilt with Texas on Thursday at Globe Life Park, opening a four-game series. The AL West-leading Rangers will counter with lefty Cole Hamels. After opening the year 9-1 with a 3.21 ERA, Tomlin has gone 2-6 with a 6.85 ERA in his last eight starts.

Athletics: Oakland is off Thursday before beginning a three-game series in St. Louis at 5:15 p.m. PT on Friday. Ross Detwiler (1-2, 5.94 ERA) will make his fourth start in an Oakland uniform. His first start against the Orioles was superb, going eight scoreless innings in a win, but his last two haven't been nearly as crisp. He has allowed 11 runs in his last 8 2/3 innings.

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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area and covered the A's on Wednesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.