Oakland will need to provide Jarrod Parker some run support today when the Athletics attempt to complete a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians at the Coliseum.
The Athletics won the second game of their series with Cleveland, 8-5, and their third in a row overall on Saturday as Bartolo Colon (10-9) tossed eight innings of one-run ball against his former club and Yoenis Cespedes contributed a two-run homer and three RBI. Coco Crisp hit a triple and drove in two runs while Josh Reddick and George Kottaras added an RBI each.
Cespedes has been in the zone as of late and is 5-for-11 with two home runs, a double, and four RBI in his past three games. Third baseman Josh Donaldson has gone 6-for-9 with a double and three RBI in the first two games of the series. His batting average, now at .205, is above the .200 mark for the first time since April 9.
Parker will take the mound for Oakland and is looking to help the team win its fourth in a row while simultaneously trying to avoid a loss in his fourth consecutive start. The right-hander's record dropped to 7-7 when he gave up four runs on five hits in just 4 2/3 innings in the team's 5-0 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday.
"Young pitchers are going to go through some ups and downs over the course of the season. He was really good for a while," said Oakland's manager Bob Melvin. "And he's going through a stretch right now where he hasn't been as good. He's going to have to fight his way through it."
The 23-year old has never faced the Indians before in his young career.
A victory today is crucial for the A's as they come in trailing Baltimore by one-half game for the second American League Wild Card spot. Oakland, now in second place, is only five games back of the AL West-leading Rangers.
Cleveland will counter with Justin Masterson. The 6-6 right-hander is on a personal two-game winning streak after earning decisions over Minnesota and the Angels in his last pair of outings. Masterson was exceptional against Los Angeles on Monday, shutting out the Halos while holding them to six hits over six innings. He has allowed only two runs over his past two starts after giving up 15 in the two games prior.
"He's throwing low-to mid-90s with a power sinker," said Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo. "He combined it with a few offspeed pitches, but mainly the fastball today," Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo said after Monday's game. "He throws one in there that's straight, and then he'll throw another one in there that drops a couple feet, and sometimes your eyes aren't quick enough to check that off."
Masterson is 0-3 with a 11.08 ERA in three career starts at Oakland Coliseum.
The Indians, who are 11 1/2 games back in the AL Central, have not been doing enough on the mound or at the plate during their current four-game losing streak. Second baseman Jason Kipnis is 0-for-8 with three strikeouts so far in the series.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has gone 2-for-4 with a double in each of the past three games. His .284 batting average is second on the team only to Michael Brantley's average of .294.
Reddick, who leads the A's with totals of 25 home runs, 61 RBI, and 65 runs, is just 1-for-8 with a home run and two strikeouts in his career against Masterson.
The A's have not swept the Indians at home since April 25-27, 2003.