Evidently, all the Cleveland Indians needed to get their season on track was a lengthy road trip.
The surging Indians try to start 7-1 on the road for the first time in nearly 25 years Saturday night against the Oakland Athletics.
After opening 1-4 in Cleveland, the Indians (7-5) have won six of the first seven contests on a nine-game trip. Cleveland, which was 36-45 away from Progressive Field last season, is off to its best road start since opening 6-1 in 1999. It hasn’t begun 7-1 on the road since 1988.
“It’s good to get on the road and go out and play baseball, believe in ourselves and continue to put together good, consistent at bats,” Jack Hannahan said after Friday’s 4-3 win in Oakland.
In the series opener, Ubaldo Jimenez allowed two runs over six innings and Hannahan drove in three against his former team. It was the second night in a row Hannahan came up big after he had a two-run single in the ninth inning in Thursday’s 2-1 win in Seattle.
Hannahan, who has hit either in the No. 8 or 9 spot in the batting order all season, leads the Indians with 11 RBIs and is batting .324 with a .415 on-base percentage.
“As long as he doesn’t try to do too much and continues to spread the ball around he’s going to be OK,” manager Manny Acta said.
While the third baseman is off to a surprising start, his performance against the Athletics might not be considered that shocking. Hannahan, who hit .226 over 2 1/2 seasons with Oakland, is batting .345 with three home runs and nine RBIs in eight games against his former team since the start of last season.
The Indians have won five of their last six against the A’s (7-8), and scheduled starter Jeanmar Gomez (0-0, 2.25 ERA) was stellar in his two starts against them last season, going 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA.
Gomez is taking the ball days after appealing a five-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for intentionally hitting a player in retaliation.
Against Kansas City last Saturday, the right-hander hit Mike Moustakas to lead off the third inning and was promptly ejected. In the top half of the inning, Kansas City’s Jonathan Sanchez had plunked Shin-Soo Choo. Before being ejected, Gomez, who was making his first start, didn’t allow a hit or walk in his two innings.
“Gomez is going to appeal and he will pitch on Saturday,” Acta said Wednesday. “Then probably, after that, he’ll drop it and pitch again the very next Saturday.”
The A’s counter with Brandon McCarthy (0-2, 3.60), who surrendered five runs and 11 hits in seven innings of a 6-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, failing in his fourth attempt to get his first win of the season.
The right-hander pitched well in his lone outing against the Indians last year, giving up two runs and five hits while striking out 10 in eight innings of 2-1 loss. He is 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his last five starts versus Cleveland.
McCarthy has displayed excellent command, issuing four walks in 25 innings, and he’ll need to be careful pitching to a patient Cleveland club. The Indians walked nine times Friday and lead the majors with 66 base on balls.
Oakland’s season-best three-game winning streak was snapped Friday, but Yoenis Cespedes continued to produce, going 3 for 5 with two RBIs. The Cuban defector has seven RBIs in his last four games and a team-leading 12.