Covering the Bases: Game 13
Indians 5, A’s 1
FIRST: Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez set the tone and didn’t need much run support to collect his first win of the season. The right-hander was Cleveland’s best arm during the spring and he (finally) followed that up with a solid start this season. His previous two outings lasted two innings (once in relief on April 11 and then in a start on April 14 before being ejected).
Gomez gave the Indians 5 1/3 innings and left without a run against him. A sac fly following his exit tacked one earned run on his line. The righty didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, but he pitched into the sixth on a limited pitch count. Manager Manny Acta pulled him with a runner on third base and one out in the sixth at 88 pitches.
A few fans wondered (via my Twitter feed) why on earth Acta would pull Gomez at that juncture. From a matchup standpoing, slugger Yoenis Cespedes was up and veteran Dan Wheeler — who relieved Gomez — has been solid against righties this season. There was more to it than that, though.
Gomez hadn’t thrown more than two innings since going 3 2/3 innings in his final outing of the spring. More to the point, he hadn’t logged more than 34 pitches since Spring Training, and he hadn’t logged more than 41 pitches in an outing since Sept. 27 of last season. The last time he topped 88 pitches? Sept. 17. Gomez had given plenty.
SECOND: You knew it wouldn’t be long before Jason Kipnis broke out of his funk at the plate. Granted, it’s just one game, but it was a big one. Kipnis went 4-for-5 with two singles, a triple and three RBIs. It marked his most hits (and tied his career high in RBIs) since his 5-for-5, three-RBI showing against the Tigers last August. It was a great spark for the offense and it would be great for the Tribe if it was a game that got Kipnis going for a longer period of time.
THIRD: The Indians’ bullpen struggled out of the gates this season, but has found its footing over the past few games on this road trip. In Saturday’s win, the Bullpen Mafia put up 3 2/3 shutout innings, with closer Chris Perez notching his third save in as many days. It was nice to see lefty Tony Sipp turn in a sharp 1-2-3 inning given some of his early-season woes. Tribe relievers have given up just one run over their last 16 2/3 innings.
HOME: Last season, veteran infielder Orlando Cabrera was behind the “Two-out Rally” shirts that the Indians players wore throughout the season. That mind-set — that it’s never too late to start a rally — has carried over early this year, too. On Saturday, four of the Indians’ five runs came with two outs. On this trip, Cleveland has scored 51-percent (27 of 53) of its run with two outs. The latest win marked the first time since 1988 that the Indians won their first three road series of a season.
Indians (8-5) at A’s (7-9)
at 4:05 p.m. ET on Sunday at the Coliseum