ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
CLEVELAND — The Indians held voluntary batting practice before their 12:05 p.m. game against Oakland on Thursday.
They held mandatory BP against right-hander Bartolo Colon in the first three innings. Tribe hitters, tripping over themselves to get to the box, pounded Colon early en route to a 9-2 victory at picturesque Progressive Field before a paid attendance of 12,477.
Indians left-hander Scott Kazmir gave up one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out 10 without a walk — the 18th double-digit strikeout performance of his career and first since Aug. 26, 2009, at Toronto.
Kazmir (2-1, 4.87 ERA) won his second straight start. Given where he stood last year, it qualifies as a bonanza. Kazmir signed a minor-league free-agent contract with Cleveland in January after plodding along the comeback trail in the independent Atlantic League and Puerto Rican Winter League in 2012.
The Indians (18-14) swept the four-game series, a feat they had not accomplished against Oakland since April 26-29, 1999, on the road. They have won 10 of 11 entering a three-game set against the first-place Tigers in Detroit. Oakland, still smarting from a controversial defeat Wednesday, slipped to 18-18.
Colon pitched for the Indians from 1997-2002. He had not worked in Progressive Field since May 18, 2005, as a member of the Angels. Opponents know what they are going to get against Colon: a steady diet of fastballs. Colon is not on the mound to finesse or trick anybody. The Indians did, indeed, see the heaters — and knew what to do with them. Colon (3-2, 4.57) gave up six runs on eight hits in four innings.
"We stayed on Colon," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's got that terrific two-seamer, which he wants you to roll over and into a double play. We didn't. We stayed in the middle of the field and barreled up a lot of balls."
The Tribe took a 2-0 lead in the first. Michael Brantley led off with a single and scored on Jason Kipnis's two-run homer to left-center. The ball went over the wall near where Oakland's Adam Rosales hit one with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday night — only this time it counted as a four-bagger.
Kipnis was well aware of how his homer tracked.
"I'm happy it stayed up there and someone caught it, just to be sure," he said with a chuckle. "There was no confusion about it."
The final score certainly made it appear as if Oakland suffered from a blue hangover.
"We know what happened, the A's know what happened," Kipnis said. "Not much else you can say about it or do about it now. That game's over. I'm just happy the way we came out [Thursday] and got a good win to put it behind us real fast."
Kipnis drilled a 2-1 fastball.
"You know the fastballs are coming, and you know they have movement," he said. "You want to stay aggressive against him, but you want to stay patient. You don't want to be chasing the fastballs that tail out of the zone.
'You know late in the count, he's going to be trying to start lefties at their front hip and have it run back inside. My approach was to be aggressive early and not let him get to that pitch."
All four of Kipnis' homers have come in the last 10 games, all in the first inning. He continues to flash power the opposite way.
"When you hit the ball to the opposite field with authority, your swing is good," Francona said. "When you're able to drive the ball the other way, you're going to handle the ball in, also."
The Indians scored three in the second. Mark Reynolds led off with a double to right-center. With one out, Yan Gomes hit a grounder just inside first base and into the corner. As Reynolds scored, Gomes took third on an error. Drew Stubbs smacked a second-pitch RBI single through the hole at short. After Brantley singled, Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly to deep center.
Nick Swisher made it 6-0 with a leadoff homer in the third on the first pitch.
The Tribe built a 9-0 cushion in the fifth off reliever Evan Scribner. Jason Giambi had an RBI single and Reynolds a two-run homer. Reynolds leads the Indians with 11 homers and 29 RBIs.
Oakland broke through against Kazmir in the sixth, Josh Donaldson homering with two outs. The next batter, Luke Montz, fouled off a pitch. After that, Kazmir blew him away with two electric fastballs.
"Those were some anger throws after that home run," he said.
Kazmir threw 72 of 103 pitches for strikes.
He won consecutive starts for the first time since winning four in a row, June 2-18, 2010, as a member of the Angels.
"He attacked with his fastball, had depth to the breaking ball and threw a good changeup when needed," Francona said.
The previous Indian to notch at least 10 strikeouts without a walk was Cliff Lee on June 7, 2005, against Minnesota (eight innings, 10 strikeouts).