Life on the road suits the Oakland A’s quite nicely. They hammered the Cleveland Indians 11-1 on Friday to open a three-game series at Progressive Field, continuing their winning ways away from the Bay Area.
The A’s are 14-6 on the road this season compared to 12-10 at the Coliseum. After having their six-game winning streak snapped Wednesday to close out a 10-game home stand, the A’s unloaded on Indians starter Zach McAllister for eight runs in the second inning alone Friday. That inning featured a grand slam from Josh Reddick and a three-run homer from Josh Donaldson. Reddick added a two-run shot and finished with a career-high six RBI. Throw in Jed Lowrie’s solo shot in the third, and the A’s hit for the “homer cycle.” That made life easy for Sonny Gray (5-1), who coasted through six innings and tied a career high with nine strikeouts.
Starting pitching report
The A’s sent 11 men to the plate in their eight-run second, rallying so long that Gray had to go down to the bullpen to warm up again. He kept his focus and gave up just one run and two hits over six innings. You want consistency? Gray has gone at least six innings and surrendered three or fewer runs in all nine starts this season. That’s the longest such streak to open a season by an A’s pitcher since at least 1914. He gave up Nick Swisher’s solo homer in the bottom of the first that briefly gave Cleveland the lead. He walked two in the bottom of the second, after his extended break during the A’s rally. But he finished that inning with a strikeout of Jose Ramirez. In fact, he ended four consecutive innings with strikeouts from the second to the fifth.
Fernando Rodriguez threw two scoreless innings and struck out two. Jim Johnson came on for the ninth and gave up an infield single but nothing else.
At the plate
McAllister (3-4) was untouchable in striking out the side in the first. Who knew what was in store for him in the second? Oakland’s first five hitters went double, single, single, walk, and then a grand slam from Josh Reddick, who proved that “Careless Whisper” alone does not power his bat.
Josh Donaldson crushed a three-run homer later in the inning to finally end McAllister’s night. The A’s struck for eight runs on five hits and four walks in their highest-scoring inning of the season. All eight runs were charged to McAllister, who left after 1 1/3 innings and forced Indians manager Terry Francona to start burning through his bullpen way earlier than he anticipated.
Donaldson homered for the third game in a row and now has a team-leading 10 for the season. Eight of those have come with runners on base. Lowrie, who entered the night hitting .218 in May, added a solo homer in the third.
The A’s have homered in eight consecutive games, and they know how to make those long balls count. Twenty-nine of their 47 home runs this season have come with runners on base, putting them among the Major League leaders in that category.
In the field
The A’s turned in an errorless game.
Scott Kazmir (5-1, 2.28) shut out his former team for 7 1/3 innings back on April 2. The Indians take another crack at him in Saturday’s 4:05 p.m. game. Josh Tomlin (2-0, 2.13) goes for Cleveland.