Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 8, Indians 4


Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 8, Indians 4


These seven late August games against the Cleveland Indians couldn't have come at a better time for the A's. Oakland has won all six games against the Indians this month with one game still remaining. After taking down The Tribe 8-4 on Wednesday, the A's have won five straight games, are a season-high 15 games over .500, and have sole possession of the top American League Wild Card spot. At the PlateWith injured third baseman Brandon Inge nearing a return, Josh Donaldson is making a strong case to stay. With two outs in the fourth inning Donaldson drove a 3-2 pitch into the left field stands for a go-ahead three-run homer. Since returning to the A's on August 14, Donaldson is hitting .350 (20-57) with six doubles, two homers, and six RBI. The A's added to their run total in the sixth inning when the Indians made two mental lapses. Donaldson reached on a force attempt after hitting a grounder to third baseman Jack Hannahan, who threw the ball to second only to see Jason Kipnis completely miss the ball. Derek Norris then grounded out to first baseman Matt LaPorta, who tagged the bag, hesitated, and then threw home instead of getting the third out at second. Josh Reddick, who reached on a single earlier in the inning, easily scored ahead of LaPorta's throw home, giving the A's a 4-2 lead. Seth Smith struck out in his first three plate appearances. In his fourth trip to the plate he stroked a two-out RBI double to give the A's a 6-2 lead. Chris Carter came up next and drove home Smith on the first pitch he saw with an RBI single. The A's scored two insurance insurance runs in the ninth inning. Stephen Drew hit a leadoff double. Cespedes drove him home and ended up on second base after the ball he hit ricocheted off Indians' pitcher Vinnie Pestano's foot, propelling the ball into left field. Josh Reddick drove home Cespedes with an RBI single giving the A's an 8-4 lead. Both Cespedes and Reddick ended up with three hits. Starting Pitching ReportTravis Blackley wasted no time dispatching one of the Indians' best hitters, Asdrubal Cabrera, from the batter's box and the game. After striking out leadoff hitter Jason Kipnis, Blackley struck out Cabrera looking on a 3-2 curveball. Cabrera took exception to the called third strike and voiced his displeasure while gesturing at home plate umpire Gary Darling, who tossed him from the game. Without their starting shortstop the Indians put former A's player Jack Hannahan in at third base and Brent Lillibridge to shortstop. Blackley gave up two runs in the third inning. The first run was the result of a solo homer off the bat of Jason Donald. The blast represented the first run the Indians have scored against the A's in 30 innings. Donald's homer was followed by a Ezequiel Carerra triple. He scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Kipnis, making it 2-0. The A's bats gave the Australian-born lefty the lead in the fourth inning and he responded by firing two and two-thirds innings of shutdown ball. Blackley earned his fifth win of the season. He finished the night with 92 pitches over five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on three hits, and two walks, with five strikeouts. Not bad for a spot start. Blackley has been a steal for the A's off the scrap heap after he was waived by the Giants. He has been solid out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation. He never did anything to deserve being bounced from the starting rotation. The A's just have too much pitching depth even without Bartolo Colon. Bullpen ReportPat Neshek entered in relief of Blackley in the sixth inning. He struck out Lillibridge to end the frame. He came back out for the seventh but gave up back-to-back hits to start the inning. Sean Doolittle took over for Neshek and pitched his way out of the inherited jam. The hard-throwing rookie lefty got all three hitters he faced in the seventh to fly out, stranding two Indians runners. He came back out for the eighth inning and gave up a walk and a hit to start the inning. Next he got what would have been a groundout but Donaldson misplayed the ball. With the bases loaded and no outs the Indians scored on a sacrifice fly before Doolittle left the game. Two runs ended up scoring in the inning but Doolittle wasn't charged with any earned runs. Jerry Blevins cleaned up the rest of the mess. He induced two groundouts to end the inning. A run scored on the first groundout, though. Ryan Cook finished the game with a scoreless ninth inning. Cook hasn't allowed a run in his past seven games. In the FieldYou have to take the good with the bad in the case of Donaldson, who is a catcher-turned-third baseman. In the eighth inning with runners on first and second he fielded a ball that he could have tossed to second base starting a potential double play. Instead he ran the ball to second, making an attempt to tag the lead runner, but dropped the ball before the tag. This put the A's in a situation where they had to pitch out of a no-out bases loaded jam. Up NextThe A's will attempt to complete a four-game sweep over the Indians in Cleveland with Jarrod Parker (8-7, 3.52 ERA) on the mound. Parker is 1-0 in his last two starts since snapping a three-game losing streak. Parker is the 10th rookie in Oakland history to reach 100 strikeouts -- he has 104.The Indians will counter with Justin Masterson (10-11, 4.60 ERA). He allowed seven runs to the A's on August 19.

Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


Crisp homers as Indians shut out Blue Jays to advance to World Series


TORONTO -- A most unlikely pitching performance helped put a most unexpected team into the World Series.

Rookie Ryan Merritt coolly delivered a lead to the Andrew Miller-led bullpen and the Cleveland Indians won their first pennant since 1997, blanking Toronto 3-0 Wednesday in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series.

Cleveland, which has never hosted a World Series opener, will play Game 1 at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against either the Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Indians will try to boost what's already been a magical year in Cleveland after LeBron James and the Cavaliers earned the city's first sports championship since 1964. The Indians' title drought dates to 1948.

The Dodgers led the Cubs 2-1 going into Game 4 of the NLCS on Wednesday night. Cleveland didn't play either team this season.

With all of 11 major league innings under his belt, Merritt took the mound and looked just like a seasoned vet. The 24-year-old lefty retired the first 10 batters and allowed only two hits before being pulled after 4 1/3 innings.

Then it was up to Cleveland's tireless relievers to hold a three-run lead.

Miller again did most of the heavy lifting, pitching 2 2/3 innings, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for the save. Winner Bryan Shaw worked an inning before Miller came in.

Carlos Santana and Coco Crisp homered for the Indians.

Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


Donaldson homers, Blue Jays beat Indians to stay alive in ALCS


TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson homered to give Toronto a long-awaited lead, and the Blue Jays finally broke through with the bats, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-1 on Tuesday to avert a sweep in the AL Championship Series.

The Indians still lead the matchup 3-1, but Donaldson and a poised Aaron Sanchez handed them their first loss of this postseason.

Edwin Encarnacion later hit a two-run single, a welcome sight for a raucous Rogers Centre crowd that had fallen silent watching its team reach the brink of elimination because of a slumbering offense.

Donaldson's solo shot to left-center field off Corey Kluber in the third put the Blue Jays ahead for the first time all series. Two innings after that, the star third baseman made an outstanding diving stop to preserve a one-run edge.

Sanchez, the American League ERA champion, allowed a run and two hits in six innings, and the bullpen finished with three perfect innings.

Cleveland will try again Wednesday to win to earn its first World Series trip since 1997, but the big concern for the Indians coming into the series - an injury-riddled rotation - still lingers.

Kluber was starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career, and in Game 5 Cleveland will send lightly used rookieRyan Merritt to the mound against Marco Estrada.

Kluber hadn't allowed a run in either of his first two starts this postseason. Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP and sporting a still freshly shaved face, opened the scoring with his first home run of these playoffs.

The wild-card Blue Jays made it 2-0 in the fourth when Ezequiel Carrera's blooper fell between three Cleveland fielders in left-center for an RBI single.

Roberto Perez hit an RBI double in the fifth off Sanchez. Carlos Santana's two-out grounder to the left side might have had a chance to score him, but Donaldson made the play.

The Indians didn't have another baserunner after that. Brett CecilJason Grilli and Roberto Osuna pitched an inning each in relief for Toronto.

Taking no chances, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons brought in Osuna, his closer, in a non-save situation to finish off Cleveland.

The Indians were trying to become the third team to sweep a Division Series and Championship Series in the same postseason. The 2007 Colorado Rockies and 2014 Kansas City Royals both did it.

Cleveland had won nine in a row, including three straight over Boston in the ALDS.

The Indians had a chance to take the lead in the third when Tyler Naquin hit a leadoff double and went to third on a sacrifice. Sanchez retired Santana on a soft grounder with the infield in, and then Jason Kipnis also grounded out.

Kluber was pulled after 89 pitches. He allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.

The Blue Jays added two more runs in the seventh after a throwing error by reliever Bryan Shaw. Encarnacion came up with the bases loaded and the crowd chanting "Eddie" - and his hard grounder skipped off the mound and into center field to make it 4-1.

Trevor Bauer's finger injury put more pressure on Kluber to come back for Game 4 and a possible Game 7 on short rest. Bauer cut his right pinkie on a drone and had to be pulled in the first inning Monday after he started bleeding.

"I had to witness everything he had to go through to try and go out there and pitch last night," pitching coach Mickey Callaway said before Tuesday's game. "Not too many people would have done that. He's been wonderful. He's obviously grown over the years because he wanted to."

Indians: The 24-year-old Merritt has pitched 11 innings as a big leaguer. His only start came Sept. 30, when the left-hander held Kansas City to a run and three hits in five innings.

Blue Jays: Estrada allowed two runs in eight innings in Game 1 against Cleveland.