The Athletics (68-78) are at the bottom of the AL West while the Indians (61-85) are in fourth place in the Central. Oakland opened this series Thursday with a 5-2 victory, its fourth straight win and ninth in 11 games.
Rookie Clayton Mortensen(notes) gave up two runs in five innings to win his second straight start while Kurt Suzuki(notes) hit a three-run homer in the third. Suzuki, who has driven in 13 runs in the last nine games, leads the A’s with 78 RBIs and is trying to become the first catcher to lead the team in the category since 1944.
“I just want to be productive,” Suzuki said. “Last year I hit .279 and had half as many RBIs (42). I want to put the ball in play and make the defense work.”
Mortensen’s start, meanwhile, lowered the pitching staff’s ERA in the last 11 games to 2.75 and was the eighth victory by a starter during that stretch.
Cleveland has lost five in a row and nine of 10. It’s scored three or fewer runs in six of the last 10 games and managed just six hits Thursday.
“We’re going through a tough stretch right now,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We have a lot of young (hitters) and we’re chasing a lot of bad pitches. It’s something we have to battle through.”
Both teams will send rookies to the mound Friday.
Huff (10-7, 6.14 ERA), who leads the Indians in victories despite not joining the rotation until mid-May, has won his last three starts and five of the last six.
The 25-year-old left-hander gave up three runs and struck out a season-high six in six innings of a 13-6 win over Kansas City on Saturday. Huff has allowed six runs over 19 innings in his last three starts, pitching at least six innings each time.
The A’s saw how tough Huff could be earlier this season when he pitched six innings July 3, allowing three runs in Cleveland’s 15-3 victory.
Anderson (9-10, 4.37) will counter for Oakland, trying to continue a string of strong pitching performances by his teammates.
Anderson is looking to become Oakland’s first 10-game winner as he faces Cleveland for the first time. The 21-year-old left-hander won his second straight start Saturday, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 4-2 win over Minnesota.
“He was fantastic,” manager Bob Geren said. “He’s had a few really good outings this year. This is in the top two or three, that’s for sure.”
Geren’s club has won eight of 10 at home over the Indians, who have lost eight in a row on the road overall.