CLEVELAND: The Indiansí lineup continued arguably its best stretch of the season on Tuesday night and Trevor Bauer posted a career high with 14 strikeouts in a 9-4 win over the Oakland Athletics at Progressive Field.
The Indians (27-23) last week spoke to the slower-than-expected offensive start to this season, and that many believed some better days were ahead. The lineup has begun to produce at a more consistent rate, scoring at least five runs for the third consecutive game, the first time this season it has accomplished that feat.
On Tuesday night against Aís starter Sonny Gray (2-2), the Indians lumped much of their production into a four-run fourth and a three-run fifth, quickly turning a 3-0 deficit into a 7-3 lead.
With two on after Francisco Lindor walked and Carlos Santana reached on a bunt single, Edwin Encarnacion, who entered the night on an eight-game hitting streak in which he was hitting .355, started the rally with an RBI single. Jose Ramirez added an RBI double to right field and rookie Bradley Zimmer followed with a two-run double to give the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Jason Kipnis led off the fifth with a solo home run to right field, his sixth of the season.
Itís the 15th consecutive game in which the Indians have hit a home run, their longest such streak since 2007. Michael Brantley later added an RBI single after Lindor walked and stole second base. With Brantley on third, Gray uncorked a wild pitch, allowing the Indians to take a 7-3 lead.
Zimmer, now hitting .314, crushed a no-doubt, two-run home run to right field in the eighth inning to extend the advantage to 9-4. It was Zimmerís second home run in the majors. He finished 2-for-4 with four RBI.
That was all to support Bauer (5-4) on the mound, who struck out a career-high 14 batters in seven innings pitched. He allowed three runs on seven hits and walked only one. Itís the most strikeouts by an American League pitcher in a game this season, and second in the majors only to the Washington Nationalsí Stephen Strasburg, who struck out 15 in a game.
In the eighth, Yonder Alonso doubled off Bryan Shaw and then scored on an error by Ramirez at third base to cut the lead to 7-4 before Zimmerís home run. Andrew Miller closed out the inning and Nick Goody worked a scoreless ninth. Indians pitchers struck out 19 batters in the game, tying a franchise record.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ.