Indians-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

Cleveland's three-city, nine-game trip is about to conclude, although the team might wish it would go on a bit longer.

The Indians try to win for the eighth time on their surprising trip in Sunday's finale against the Oakland Athletics.

Cleveland's season got off to an ominous start as it dropped four of its first five games at Progressive Field, but since it hit the road it has looked like a different team.

The Indians (8-5) opened the trip by sweeping a three-game series in Kansas City and then took two of three in Seattle. They've won the first two in Oakland and a victory in the finale would mark the first time in franchise history the team completed a road trip of at least nine games with only one loss.

"I don't think you could plan it any better,'' manager Manny Acta said after Saturday's 5-1 victory. "I was envisioning playing over .500 but winning three series is fantastic. We're pretty happy with the way things have gone so far.''

Cleveland pounded out 14 hits Saturday and Jason Kipnis broke out of his slump by going 4 for 5 with three RBIs.

"This team's rolling right now,'' said Kipnis, who came entered Saturday batting 167. "(We're) getting used to winning and that's how it needs to be. We feel we've got a good order 1-9 and the pitching staff does a great job putting us in position to win every day.''

The back of the batting order has been a surprise source of production, with Jack Hannahan, who has hit either No. 8 or 9 in the order all season, leading the Indians with 11 RBIs while batting .342 with a .422 on-base percentage.

While Cleveland is brimming with confidence, Oakland (7-9) is slumping a bit after entering this series having won three in a row over the Los Angeles Angels.

The A's have already been held to one run or fewer six times and their only run Saturday came on a Yoenis Cespedes sacrifice fly. The Cuban defector has been one of the few bright spots in the lineup having driven in eight of Oakland's 19 runs in the last five games.

"Nothing is guaranteed just because we won a few games,'' leadoff hitter Jemile Weeks said. "Sometimes you have to reach down deep as a team and get together."

The A's hope to get things turned around against Justin Masterson (0-1, 6.48 ERA), who is hoping to bounce back from a dreadful outing.

After recording a 2.77 ERA in his first two starts, Masterson was tagged for eight runs, seven hits and four walks in 3 2-3 innings against Seattle on Tuesday, but the Indians rallied for a 9-8 victory.

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three career starts against the A's, and hasn't faced them since 2010.

Oakland counters with Tyson Ross (0-0, 3.00), who is hoping to build on an encouraging season debut.

Recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to take over as the No. 5 starter, Ross gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings in Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Angels, but didn't receive a decision. The right-hander struck out three and walked none.

"It's nice to get that first one under your belt,'' said Ross, who turns 25 Sunday. "I'm definitely looking forward to getting out there every fifth day, and learning from the talented people on this staff.''

In his lone start against the Indians on May 3, Ross gave up eight hits and a run in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-1 loss, but didn't receive a decision.

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