A’s win narrows AL West gap to half a game

OAKLAND COLISEUM — In a tightly pitched ballgame Friday night, the Oakland Athletics came out on top over the Cleveland Indians 3-2.

The powerful Yoenis Cespedes crushed his 20th home run of the season – a two-run shot in the first inning – to give the A’s a quick lead. For a while, it seemed like this was all the offense Oakland would need.

Despite struggling a bit with his control, A’s starter A.J. Griffin (10-8, 3.76 ERA) held Cleveland to just four hits in five innings.

Griffin needed 104 pitches to get through those five innings, with just 57 of them going for strikes. He also walked five and only struck out three.

The Indians scratched across an unearned run against Griffin in the top of the third. Nick Swisher singled and came around to score on a single by Carlos Santana and an errant throw by Josh Reddick from right field.

This was the only damage Cleveland got against Griffin, who left in the sixth the game with a 2-1 lead. Even though he didn’t have his best stuff, Griffin was proud of the way he battled:

“I’ve been missing just a little bit. I was a little up today, which isn’t a good thing. … I threw a lot of pitches early on, and I got to grind through five. I was at – what, 68 [pitches] after three innings? Something crazy.”

Oakland gave up their lead in the top of the seventh, when Drew Stubbs scored on an RBI single by Swisher off of left-hander Sean Doolittle.

As decent as Griffin was, Justin Masterson had a great outing for Cleveland.

Masterson (14-8, 3.59 ERA) tossed 7-2/3 innings and was just one out away from pitching a complete-game (eight inning) loss in just 107 pitches, 73 for strikes. He allowed seven hits, walked one, and struck out four.

It remained 2-2 until the bottom of the seventh, when the fighting A’s took a 3-2 lead on a two-out RBI double by Eric Sogard to score catcher Stephen Vogt.

Manager Bob Melvin is impressed with how clutch Sogard has become for his team:

A’s manager Bob Melvin

Video: CSN California

“He’s been terrific for us. He’s gotten big hits. Even if he has a game where he doesn’t get any hits early on, we still feel confident in him coming up with a big hit late in the game for us. Whether he’s hitting up in the line up or whether he’s hitting in the eight or nine spot, seems like he puts together consistent at-bats and has been for a while now.”

Sogard – who’s hitting .315 with 12 RBIs since the All-Star Break – credits his success to simply being out on the field daily:

“No doubt it’s been being out there almost every day. It’s what I’m used to. Throughout the minor leagues obviously you’re playing every day. Those first couple years up here I was playing once every four or five days, and it was really hard for me to get in a rhythm, especially at the plate.”

With the Texas Rangers falling to the Seattle Mariners earlier Friday, Oakland moved to just one-half game back in the American League West Division.

The A’s also managed to break their four-game losing streak in one-run games. They’ll look to continue to climb up in the standings when they take on Cleveland in game two of this three-game set Saturday night at 6:05 p.m.

Notes

The A’s are 2-2 on their current nine-game homestand against Houston (1-2), Cleveland (1-0), and Seattle (three games). … Have gone 13-13 since the All-Star Break. … Griffin has allowed 11 walks over his past two starts (10.2 IP) after allowing 12 walks over his previous ten starts (64.0 IP). … Cespedes is the second player in Athletics history to hit 20 home runs in each of his fist two Major League seasons. Bob Johnson hit 21 home runs in 1933 and 34 in 1934 for the Philadelphia A’s.


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