OAKLAND — The A’s dropped in for a three-game homestand that essentially was just another pit stop on one continuous 15-game road trip.
They made it worth their while, taking two of three from the American League Central leaders and getting contributions from many in doing so.
Their 5-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday capped a series in which they allowed just three runs total to a team that entered the day as the majors’ fourth-highest scoring team.
“It’s pretty amazing what we got against this team,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Not only do they possess speed, a certain amount of power, they (also) have a bunch of switch hitters. It’s almost impossible to get your matchup against these guys, and for us to pitch as well as we did is pretty impressive.”
The short stay in the East Bay was worth it. Starting Aug. 15, the A’s embarked on a stretch that has them playing five series in five different cities — Arlington, Texas; Chicago; Oakland; St. Louis (starting Friday) and finishing in Houston.
Wednesday’s victory clinched their first series win since they took three of four from Baltimore —another first-place team at the time — at the Coliseum from Aug. 8-11.
[INSTANT REPLAY: A's ride Graveman to series win over Indians]
“We’ve played, at times, really well against good teams and at times not so good,” Melvin said. “And then we’ve played poorly against some of the teams that we would maybe expect we’d do better against. So I can’t figure it out. But there’s certain days and certain series, we can move the line offensively, we have some guys with some power, we can score some runs. We just don’t do it consistently enough.”
Kendall Graveman (10-8) put together his second excellent start in a row, limiting Cleveland to one run over 6 2/3 innings, and becoming the first A’s starer this season to reach double-figure wins.
“This is the guy we see him developing into, and he’s only gonna get better,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He’s smart. He’s slowed himself down a lot. That’s one thing I notice. He used to always be in such a rush. … He’s doing a great job of finding that medium balance where he’s executing more pitches more consistently.”
For the second game in a row, the A’s also got contributions from their youngsters. Ryon Healy had an RBI single and recently promoted Chad Pinder had a sacrifice fly during the A’s five-run second (Max Muncy added his own RBI single).
By the time the A’s return from a six-game road trip to St. Louis and Houston, the calendar will have turned to September, and it’s very likely that more prospects will be called up.
Among hitters, Triple-A Nashville outfielder Jaycob Brugman is positioning himself as a strong candidate to get promoted sometime after rosters expand Sept. 1. The 24-year-old Brugman, a 17th round pick in 2013 out of BYU, is hitting .296 with 12 homers and 85 RBI this season, which began at Double-A Midland before a promotion to Nashville. He’s swinging a particularly hot bat in August.
Indications are that the A’s may be leaning against calling up highly touted third baseman Matt Chapman, Oakland’s No. 2 prospect who was recently promoted to Triple-A. That thinking would make sense given how well Healy is handling third base right now, and even if Chapman doesn’t get a call-up, he could still factor into the big league picture come spring training.
Danny Valencia originally was credited with a two-run single in the second inning when Indians first baseman Carlos Santana lost his pop fly in the sun. The play was later changed to an error on Santana, and that ended a streak of seven consecutive starts for Valencia in which he recorded at least two hits. That was the longest such streak by an Athletic since Randy Velarde also had seven back in 1999.
On another note, Valencia said he and Billy Butler had yet to talk in an effort to clear the air over their recent fight, though Butler said the two have plans to do so.