Pratt's Instant Replay: Athletics 8, Indians 4

August 30, 2012, 2:34 am
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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.

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