The Oakland Athletics have gotten some positive signs from their young pitching staff this week. They hope the trend continues when Clayton Mortensen(notes) takes the mound in the opener of a four-game home series with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.
Oakland (67-78) enters this series after sweeping a three-game set at Texas to cap a 6-2 road trip. The Athletics outscored the Rangers 19-1, finishing the series with a 4-0 victory Wednesday in which they gave up just one hit.
The only run Oakland allowed in the series was a solo homer off Edgar Gonzalez in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s victory.
In the series finale, Trevor Cahill(notes) gave up only a single to lead off the second. He retired 16 in a row at one point, striking out a career-high seven. Scott Hairston(notes) provided the only run needed with an RBI double in the first, and the A’s added three insurance runs in the sixth.
Oakland’s pitching staff had a 2.66 ERA over the road trip, while the young rotation posted a 5-1 record.
“By far the best road trip of the year,” manager Bob Geren told the A’s official Web site. “The guys are playing loose, they’re playing with confidence, and they’re fighting.”
On Thursday, Geren will hand the ball to another promising talent.
Mortensen (1-2, 6.88 ERA) takes the mound seeking to build on his first major league victory. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander, acquired from St. Louis in the Matt Holliday(notes) trade, gave up one run and five hits in six innings of a 12-5 win over Minnesota last Friday. The right-hander credited being able to vary his fastball, curveball and changeup.
“Once I can get that perfected, the confidence just goes up,” Mortensen said. “Being able to see that I can get a win against a team like this, a really potent hitting team, definitely helps out.”
Mortensen appears to have a good shot at another win against the Indians (61-84), who have lost four in a row and 13 of 16 to clinch a losing season.
Cleveland lost 7-3 at Minnesota on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep. Aaron Laffey(notes) gave up seven runs and 12 hits in six innings while the Indians went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
“It’s important not to give in right now,” LaPorta said. “It doesn’t matter what the situation is around you. That’s part of being a man is finishing strong.”
Justin Masterson(notes) (4-7, 4.25), who is 1-4 with a 4.10 ERA since rejoining the Cleveland rotation last month, will take the mound Thursday. The right-hander gave up one run and four hits in six innings of a 2-1, 12-inning loss to Kansas City last Friday.
Masterson hasn’t recorded a victory since Aug. 20 against the Angels.
This is the first start against the Athletics for Masterson, who has thrown eight innings of relief versus Oakland without allowing an earned run, allowing three hits and striking out 11.
Cleveland took two of three home games against Oakland in July, but has lost seven of nine at the Coliseum.