The Oakland Athletics defeated the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field today by a final score of 7-2. The A’s sixth straight win completed a three game series sweep and brought the team back to a .500 record with 25 games in both the win and loss columns for the season. Frankie Montas delivered another gem, holding the Indians scoreless over six innings. Meanwhile, the A’s offense, led by another juggernaut performance from catcher Nick Hundley, notched seven runs on 13 hits.
Cleveland starting pitcher Jefry Rodriguez had control issues at the game’s outset, and the A’s quickly exploited his lack of command in the top of the first inning. Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olson all walked to load the bases with just one out. Canha followed with the A’s first RBI, reaching first on a fielding error by Cleveland third baseman José Ramirez and scoring Semien from third. Robbie Grossman followed, jumping on Rodriguez’s first offering for a sacrifice fly that brought Chapman home. The A’s failed to get a hit in the first inning but nevertheless led 2-0.
Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor opened the bottom of the first with a long single off Montas, and Carlos Santana, batting third for the Indians, subsequently doubled with one out to advance Lindor to third and create an opportunity for first baseman Jake Bauers, batting in the cleanup spot, to put multiple runs on the board. Montas rose to the occasion, fanning Bauers for his first strikeout of the game. José Ramirez flew out to left to end the inning with no runs and two stranded.
In the top of the second inning, Nick “Home Run” Hundley, batting ninth, homered for the second time this season—and in his past two starts—to put the A’s up 3-0.
The Indians put pressure on Montas again in the bottom of the second, as center fielder Leonys Martin and catcher Kevin Plawecki singled and doubled in succession to once again threaten with runners on second and third and Lindor at the plate looking for a second hit. Montas once again met the challenge, coming back from a 3-1 count to strike out Lindor in a nine pitch battle.
The A’s added on in the top of the third. Matt Olson led off the inning with a double and was plated shortly thereafter by a Grossman single to right field. Rodriguez would escape threatened further damage in the inning, but not before working his pitch count up to 72. Montas settled in and put up his first 1-2-3 inning, ending the third with the A’s up, 4-0.
Rodriguez exited the game after the fourth without delivering a single scoreless inning, yielding a two out RBI double to Canha in the final frame pitched by the Indians’ starter.
Canha with an RBI double in the fourth, A's have scored in each of the first four innings and lead 5-0 at Cleveland.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 22, 2019
By contrast, Montas entered the bottom of the fifth with seven Ks and nary a BB, though he would issue one to Lindor with one out in the bottom of the game’s middle frame. With two on and one out, Montas went on to strike out Santana and Bauers, completing five scoreless innings with 9 strikeouts.
Indians reliever and former Athletic Dan Otero finally held the A’s scoreless in the fifth, but Canha re-ignited Oakland’s offense in the sixth with a two out blast to right, his seventh home run of the season.
The cavalcade of A’s runs was not over. Another former A’s reliever, Tyler Clippard, took the mound for Cleveland at the top of the seventh. After striking out Chad Pinder, who started today’s game in right field, Clippard gave up back to back doubles to Ramon Laureano and Nick “Hit Hungry” Hundley, the latter’s two-baser putting him a triple (little league HR?) away from hitting for cycle for the day.
Montas did not return to pitch the seventh inning for the A’s, ending the day with 9 strikeouts, 2 walks, five hits, and no runs allowed across six impressive innings. Yusmeiro Petit relieved Montas in the seventh, issuing one walk in the inning but nevertheless holding Cleveland scoreless. Fernando Rodney jump started the Indians’ offense in the eighth, giving up a walk, a home run, a single, and another walk before passing the baton to Lou Trivino with two on and no outs. Fortunately, Trivino got the A’s out of the inning in nine pitches from there, looking every bit like the devastating setup man we know and love. The game headed into the ninth with the A’s ahead 7-2.
The A’s made a bit of noise offensively late in the game, including a second double from Matt Olson in the eighth, but were unable to further augment their lead. The Indians finally managed to retire Hundley on a ground ball to first to end the top of the ninth. Hundley had quite a game at the plate, ending the day 3-for-3 with a home run, double, walk, and two runs batted in.
Joakim Soria came out to close the game for the A’s in the bottom of the ninth. He gave up a single to Lindor to start the inning, but the situation was remediated when Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis grounded into a 6-5-3 double play. Santana kept Cleveland’s rally hopes alive with a two out walk, but Bauers followed with a groundout to first base, ending today’s game with a three game sweep for our Oakland Athletics.
Odds & Sods
- Frankie Montas looks more like a bona fide ace with each appearance, and the accolades are piling up:
Frankie Montas last four starts: 26.2 ip, 31 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HR, 1.69 ERA. Hasn't given up more than 3 earned runs in a game this season, with a 2.40 ERA and 2.72 FIP overall thru 10 starts. #Athletics might just have an ace on their hands.— Alex Hall (@AlexHallAN) May 22, 2019
The A's deserve a lot of credit for sticking with Frankie Montas' development as a starter. It would have been easy going into this year to put him in the bullpen, but they never stopped believing he had this in him.— Melissa Lockard (@melissalockard) May 22, 2019
- Canha get an apology for being consigned to AAA while Morales did Mor’ a’ less nothing at the plate? I hope he’s here to stay.
Mark Canha has hit 5 home runs in his eight games since being activated from the injured list on May 13.— AthleticsPR (@AthleticsPR) May 22, 2019
- Nick Hundley has been one of A’s fans’ favorite punching bags this season. Now he’s punching back!
In Nick Hundley's last three starts, he's 5-for-9 with 2 HR, a triple, and a double. That's raised his wRC+ from 19 to 89.— Alex Hall (@AlexHallAN) May 22, 2019
Note that with Hundley’s groundout in the ninth, he’s now 5-for-10 over his past three starts and his wRC+ stands at 86.
The A’s head back to Oakland for a homestand that begins on Friday against the Seattle Mariners, who have bested the Athletics 4-0 in the season series so far. Looking transformed from a mere few weeks ago and undoubtedly feeling more confident, Oakland will hope to improve their position in the AL West in these upcoming series at the Coliseum against the Mariners, Angels, and Astros.