The Cleveland Indians had visions of increasing their lead in the American League Central when they began the second half of the season with a road series against the struggling Oakland Athletics. Instead, Cleveland looks to avoid being swept when it visits the AL West’s last-place team on Sunday for the finale of their three-game set.
The Indians saw their division lead over Minnesota shrink to 1 1/2 games and their overall skid reach three contests when they dropped a 5-3 decision on Saturday. Oakland used the long ball to extend its home winning streak to four games, as rookie third baseman Matt Chapman hit his second solo homer of the night in the eighth inning to forge a tie before Khris Davis belted a two-run shot in the ninth for the walk-off victory. Chapman, a power-hitting prospect, went the first 12 games of his major-league career without a blast while Davis reached the 25-homer mark for the third consecutive season. The Athletics’ pitching staff has allowed a total of three runs over the first two contests of the series after surrendering 23 during a four-game set at Cleveland earlier this year.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), NBCSN California (Oakland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Trevor Bauer (7-7, 5.24 ERA) vs. Athletics LH Sean Manaea (7-5, 3.76)
Bauer’s last three starts came at home, where he went 1-2 while yielding at least four runs in each loss. The 26-year-old Californian has posted a 4.75 ERA at Progressive Field but has struggled even more on the road, where he is 3-4 with a 5.90 mark in eight outings. Bauer evened his all-time record against Oakland at 1-1 in four turns on May 30, when he allowed three runs and registered a career-high 14 strikeouts over seven innings en route to a victory.
Manaea has given up three runs or fewer in each of his last four starts but has posted just one victory in that span. The 25-year-old from Indiana has gone 0-1 over his last three turns at home despite recording at least six strikeouts and working six or more innings in each outing. Manaea won each of his first two career starts against the Indians, including a triumph in Cleveland on May 31 in which he allowed one run and three hits over seven frames.
1. The Indians have registered a total of nine hits over the first two games of the series.
2. Oakland RHP Kendall Graveman (shoulder) hopes to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday with a start for Triple-A Nashville.
3. Cleveland All-Star 3B Jose Ramirez has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 contests.
PREDICTION: Indians 6, Athletics 2