Having lost their previous eight games against the Oakland Athletics heading into to this past week’s four-game series that began Monday, the red-hot Cleveland Indians knew that things would be different this time around. With a 9-2 win over the A’s on Thursday night to close out the series and secure the sweep, the Indians once again showed the rest of the A.L. Central that they are a team that cannot be overlooked, regardless of how young this season may be.
Winners of four straight and nine of their last ten games overall, Scott Kazmir (2-1) , guided the tribe on Thursday night, earning his second win in as many starts, the first time he has done so since 2010, Kazmir gave up just one run through six innings, while striking out 10 and surrendering five hits on the night.
Taking the loss for the A’s was veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon (3-2), who gave up six runs on eight hits over five innings of work.
Powering the offence by way of the long ball, Jason Kipnis (4), Nick Swisher (5), and Mark Reynolds, who hit his American League-Leading 11th home run, gave the tribe all they needed in the blowout win.
Cleveland Indian’s Manager Terry Francona was understandably pleased after the win.
”We have a very good bullpen. We’re playing well defensively. A lot of guys are contributing offensively. That’s a good way to play baseball.”
Next up for the Indians (18-14), who are leading the American League in home runs, is a weekend series with the first-place Tigers (19-13) that begins Friday in Detroit. While the third-place Indians have now lost just four times since April 20, they still trail the up and coming Kansas City Royals by a half-game for second, and are a full game back of the Tigers in the congested A.L. Cetral.
Cleveland also recieved some additional good news on Thursday when the team activated outfielder Michael Bourn from the disabled list after missing just shy of a month with a cut finger.
Starting Friday’s series opener in the Motor City for the Indians will be Corey Kluber (2-1), 3.06 ERA, who will face the Tiger’s Max Scherzer (4-0), 3.43 ERA. The second game between the two Central division foes will feature Cleveland’s Ubaldo Jimenez (2-2), 6.37 ERA, who will oppose one of the league’s best in the Tiger’s Justin Verlander (4-2), 1.55 ERA. The series finale on Sunday has Cleveland’s Zach McAllister (3-3), 2.63 ERA, facing off against the Tiger’s Rick Porcello (1-2), 7.52 ERA.
After this weekend’s divisional series in Deroit concludes on Sunday, things won’t get any easier for the Indians as they will start the week off at home on Monday in a double-header with the always dangerous New York Yankees.