With one of their starters serving a lengthy suspension, the playoff-contending Oakland Athletics could use some more solid pitching performances. Brett Anderson will try to provide another such effort in his second start back from Tommy John surgery.
After a successful return last week, Anderson will get the ball for the A's in Monday night's opener of a four-game road series against the sputtering Cleveland Indians.
Oakland (69-57) has helped itself in the AL wild-card race by winning eight of 10, thanks in part to a 2.93 staff ERA over that stretch. The A's took two of three at fellow wild-card contender Tampa Bay in a series that concluded with a 4-2 victory Saturday.
After getting a rare Sunday off as the Tampa region prepared for the Republican National Convention, Oakland will try to add to the Indians' woes with help from Anderson (1-0, 1.29 ERA). The series against Cleveland is among seven straight games for the Athletics against sub-.500 teams.
Oakland will try to take advantage of those matchups before facing playoff contenders - Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Texas - in 23 of its final 29 regular-season contests.
"Every series is important. Every game is important," manager Bob Melvin told the team's official website. "If we start thinking about what could transpire two, three weeks from now, those are distractions we don't need to be thinking about."
In his first start since June 2011, Anderson gave up one run and four hits over seven innings of Tuesday's 4-1 win over Minnesota, walking none and striking out six.
"I don't think I could have scripted a better performance, all things considered," he said. "The big thing is helping the team win a ballgame, and hopefully I can continue to do that."
The A's could use more strong performances from Anderson after former AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon was suspended 50 games Wednesday after a positive test for testosterone. In his second start, the left-hander may benefit from facing the Indians (55-72), who have dropped 10 of 11 and 23 of 28.
Cleveland has been outscored 28-11 over its last seven contests after a 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday.
"We just need to show up (Monday) and worry about that game," manager Manny Acta said.
Indians starter Roberto Hernandez (0-2, 6.75) will again seek his first win since returning from a major league suspension for using a false identity.
The right-hander, who pitched under the pseudonym Fausto Carmona for six seasons, has lost both of his starts since returning to the majors. He gave up four runs, three hits and two walks over six innings of Tuesday's 5-1 loss at Seattle.
Hernandez, who will make his first start at Progressive Field since Sept. 25, is 0-4 with a 5.09 ERA in his last four home matchups with Oakland.
Anderson, who is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three career outings against Cleveland, will try to lead the A's to their fifth straight win in the series. Oakland swept three home games with the Indians from Aug. 17-19.