video thumbnail

OAK@CLE: Donaldson cranks a three-run shot to left

CLEVELAND -- Vivid, colorful tattoos adorn his arms. His thick, Australian accent is easy to notice.

Plenty about A's southpaw Travis Blackley stands out. His pitching on Wednesday, however, conformed to how the rest of Oakland's staff has fared recently. For the surging A's, that's a good thing.

Making a spot start, Blackley tossed 5 2/3 effective innings, continuing a trend of top-notch starting pitching, as the A's breezed to an 8-4 victory, the team's fifth in a row, beside Lake Erie.

Blackley didn't quite replicate the performances of lefties Brett Anderson and Tommy Milone, who held the Indians scoreless in seven and six frames, respectively, the two previous nights. He did, however, make it three straight wins in the series for the A's over the scuffling Tribe and 11 wins in their last 13 contests overall.

"I think starters get into a nice little competition with themselves," said A's skipper Bob Melvin. "'You set the bar and I want to raise it the next day.'"

Blackley limited Cleveland to two runs on three hits, yielding a pair of runs in the third, as the Tribe terminated its 24-inning scoreless streak and ensured that Oakland wouldn't toss a shutout for a fourth straight meeting. Trailing 2-0, the A's faced their first deficit since Friday.

That all changed with one swift, emphatic swing of the bat.

In the fourth inning, A's third baseman Josh Donaldson socked a hanging breaking ball off the roof of a concession stand that sits beyond the left-field wall at Progressive Field, a majestic three-run blast off Indians right-hander Corey Kluber. The 25-year-old is batting .357 (20-for-56) with 10 RBIs over his last 15 contests.

"He did a good job, got me to swing and miss a couple of times," Donaldson said. "And on that one, he hung me one and I was able to hit it."

From there, the A's cruised.

Oakland plated a run in the sixth after a series of defensive miscues by the Tribe. Catcher Derek Norris brought home right fielder Josh Reddick, who reached on an infield single, on a groundout to first baseman Matt LaPorta, who tagged the base and looked to second before throwing home to attempt to nab Reddick.

The A's added two more runs in the seventh with four hits off reliever Cody Allen and another pair in the ninth off setup man Vinnie Pestano.

"We're becoming better at that," Melvin said. "Early in the season, we'd score a couple runs and say, 'OK. Here you go, pitching staff.' It is nice to see. It seems like our at-bats get better as the game goes along. Those were key runs."

That proved to be plenty of backing for Blackley, who threw 92 pitches and walked two batters. He extended the franchise record to 25 consecutive games in which an A's starter has walked two or fewer. Oakland has compiled a 2.40 ERA over its last 13 affairs and has racked up a Major League-best 50-27 mark since June 2.

It doesn't seem to matter who the A's send out to take the hill every day. The starters appear to be feeding off of each strong outing.

"As much as we would like to point out our offense, those guys, they have a very good pitching staff," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "They're top three in the league and they're tough. We can see why they're playing the way they're playing."

It was Blackley's turn to shine on Wednesday, as he helped the A's to continue to persevere through a 50-game suspension of Bartolo Colon and various injuries.

"I made a few good pitches when I needed to," Blackley said. "As I always do, I tried to keep the team in the game and let us score. ... I was effectively wild today. I wasn't my usual location, location, location, but I'll take it."

Melvin wouldn't hint at whether Blackley would remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen. The 29-year-old native of Melbourne, Australia, has a slight preference, though in the end, he just wants to pitch.

"That's up in the air, isn't it?" Blackley said. "I have no idea. Whatever they need. That's all I can say. I like starting, but I like having a job."

Considering how he threw on Wednesday, he certainly fits in with the rest of Oakland's sizzling staff.

MLB.com Comments