Oakland (46-37) at Cleveland (40-44)

Cloudy Currently: Cleveland, OH
Temp: 32° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 9, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Oakland Athletics hope Eric Chavez can provide the spark they’ve been missing.

Out the last five weeks due to a broken right hand, Chavez is expected to be back at third base for the struggling A’s when they open a three-game series at Jacobs Field against the Cleveland Indians.

On the disabled list since getting hit on the right wrist by Chicago White Sox reliever Damaso Marte on June 1, Chavez successfully completed a rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento, and was scheduled to catch a flight to Cleveland in time for Friday’s opener.

Not a moment too soon for the A’s, who are coming off a lost couple of days in Boston.

The A’s, who have lost 16 of their last 22 on the road, were outscored 30-10 in suffering a three-game sweep to the Red Sox, including Thursday’s 8-7 defeat in 10 innings. Oakland trailed 7-1 before rallying to force extra innings, only to lose on Bill Mueller’s two-out RBI double in the bottom of the 10th.

Oakland has been swept four times this year, matching its season total from last year.

Prior to the game, A’s manager Ken Macha told his team reinforcements were on the way.

“I told them we’re getting healthy, we’re getting some guys back,” Macha said. ”(Chavez) is our No. 3 hitter. He’s a Gold Glove third baseman. A lot of people look up to him on the club. (His return) can do nothing but help.”

Injured right-hander Tim Hudson agreed.

“He’s such a big part of the team, offensively and defensively,” Hudson said. “It’ll be great to have him back.”

Chavez was leading the A’s with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs at the time of his injury. In spring training he signed a six-year contract extension worth $66 million, the biggest deal in franchise history.

The Indians have lost two straight and five of six, including a 10-0 defeat to Texas on Thursday. Cleveland managed just three hits.

“This was one of the tougher days of the year,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said.

Cleveland shortstop Omar Vizquel is hitting .432 (19-for-44) during his 11-game hitting streak.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Saarloos Cle vs. J. Westbrook StL
2-1 Record 14-9
4.44 ERA 3.38
10 K 116
12 BB 61
1.60 WHIP 1.25