(SportsNetwork.com) - The hottest team in baseball finds itself in the Buckeye State this afternoon as the sizzling Oakland Athletics close out a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Tied with both Milwaukee and San Francisco for the most wins in the majors at the moment, the A's have rattled off eight wins in the last nine outings, thanks in part to a 6-2 triumph on Saturday in the middle test of the series.
Brandon Moss recorded his ninth home run of the season for Oakland, a two-run shot in the top of the third inning as he finished with two hits and three RBI overall. Josh Donaldson also plated three and scored twice as he logged another three hits.
However, despite the overall good fortunes of the A's of late, starting pitcher Scott Kazmir was not around to celebrate. Kazmir was ejected early in the second inning for questioning balls and strikes called by umpire Jerry Layne. Kazmir ended up walking three in just 1 1/3 innings of work.
Coming to the rescue were relievers Dan Otero, Fernando Abad, Luke Gregerson, and Sean Doolittle, the former capturing his fourth win in as many decisions as he pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings.
"That's something that needs to take notice," Kazmir said of the bullpen's efforts. "It was incredible how they stepped up and just threw zeros up there. They attacked the strike zone, got quick outs."
Taking the loss for Cleveland, a team which has now lost three straight and four of the last five, was Josh Tomlin who permitted three runs on five hits and a walk, striking out a pair. Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera both came around to score for an Indians club that is last in the AL Central standings, 9 1/2 games out of contention.
Right-hander Jesse Chavez seeks his fourth win in the last five decisions when he takes the hill for the A's this afternoon. A member of five different clubs since 2009, Chavez conquered the Chicago White Sox on Monday when he allowed two runs on five hits -- two home runs -- over eight innings at home. The California native walked a pair but at the same time struck out seven in the win.
For his career, one that began with Pittsburgh in 2008, Chavez has a record of 0-1 with a lefty 8.49 ERA in 10 all-time appearances versus the Tribe.
Now in his sixth season with Cleveland, Justin Masterson hopes to bounce back from his loss to Toronto on the road earlier in the week. The right-hander gave up just six hits to the Blue Jays, but those, aided by three walks resulted in five earned runs over the course of 5 1/3 innings.
A product of San Diego State, Masterson is more than familiar with the A's, having appeared in 13 games versus Oakland, resulting in a 2-6 mark and a 6.02 ERA.
Over the last seven games the Cleveland pitchers have been roughed up quite a bit, resulting in a league-high 5.55 ERA, stemming from 10 home runs allowed which is tied with both the Yankees and White Sox during that stretch.
Oakland's pitching staff has been phenomenal so far this season, producing the only sub-3.00 ERA in the league at 2.92. Opposing teams are batting a mere .217 against A's hurlers, by far the best mark of any group of arms in the AL.
Oakland, which won only twice in seven attempts versus the Tribe last season, has taken a 3-2 advantage in this year's series following Saturday's victory.