Chavez leads Oakland’s offense in 11-0 rout of Indians
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Eric Chavez has been through so much physically in recent years he won’t allow himself to get overly excited about one big day with the bat.
It’s a constant process for Oakland’s converted designated hitter to keep himself ready: warming up, stretching, hitting the weight room after games before finally recovering. Whatever it takes.
Chavez hit a two-run double and also singled in a run to help Gio Gonzalez win for the first time in three starts, and the Athletics pounded the Cleveland Indians 11-0 on Sunday to take the series.
“Does it feel good? Yeah. Does it mean I’m going to go on a hot streak the next month? I don’t know anything about that,” Chavez said. “There’s been really good days and really bad days. It feels like I’ve been seeing the ball really good all year, but I’ve been missing so many pitches. I’m still trying to find that flatline where I can just worry about baseball.”
Kevin Kouzmanoff returned to the A’s lineup and added a three-run double. He sat out Saturday to give him time to heal after fouling a pitch off his foot. Kouzmanoff’s fifth-inning hit chased Justin Masterson (0-3).
Eric Patterson homered and hit a two-run triple, matching his career high with three RBIs.
For Chavez, this was an encouraging sign after several frustrating, injury-filled seasons. The six-time Gold Glove third baseman is now the A’s DH batting in the cleanup spot.
Chavez, limited to eight games in his injury-shortened 2009 campaign, had three RBIs for the first time since June 3, 2008, against Detroit. He underwent season-ending back surgery last June and has had five operations since Sept. 5, 2007, including two microdiscectomy surgeries in different spots in his back.
The double snapped an 0-for-17 stretch by Chavez with runners in scoring position.
“It’s going to continue to get better,” he said of his road back. “I knew early on it would be an up-and-down ride for me. As long as I can continue climbing that wall.”
Jake Fox and Adam Rosales each singled in a run as the A’s did plenty to support Gonzalez (2-1), who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth but otherwise was hardly challenged.
He matched his career high by going seven innings. He allowed five hits, struck out three and walked two.
“It’s awesome when you can go seven innings like that and the offense takes a load off your shoulders,” Gonzalez said. “Scoring 11, it’s unbelievable.”
Chavez got everything started. He doubled in the first, then added the RBI single in the third.
The 32-year-old was ready for a fresh start this season. He ended last year with one hit in his last 22 at-bats. He hit .100 with one RBI. That’s after he played in only 23 games in 2008, and 90 in ’07.
Chavez scored his 726th run on Kouzmanoff’s double, moving him past Sal Bando and into sole possession of fourth place on Oakland’s career list.
The A’s earned their third shutout and second of the series after winning 10-0 Friday night. Cleveland was blanked for the fourth time.
“I’m gonna tell you for the last time, if I win 90 games I don’t care that the other 70 that I lose are shutouts,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “All I care about is winning and losing ballgames. Shutouts is a terminology of you losing a game. It wasn’t going to make me feel any better if I had lost 11-1 today.”
Oakland had lost four of six, but gained some momentum with a nice win before taking off for a six-game trip beginning with two in Tampa Bay starting Tuesday and ending with a four-game series in Toronto.
The A’s played without catcher Kurt Suzuki for the second straight game as he deals with tightness in his left side. Suzuki hopes to return Tuesday night against the Rays.
Oakland first baseman Daric Barton sustained a tiny fracture in his right middle finger when he slid into the dugout making a catch on Matt LaPorta’s foul ball to start the seventh. Barton underwent X-rays after the game and the A’s weren’t sure the break to the volar plate in his finger would cause him to miss much time.
NOTES: The A’s had 15 hits. … Indians closer Kerry Wood threw a bullpen session two days after a one-inning simulated game in which his injured back became sore and he wasn’t sharp as he’d hoped. Acta said Wood will throw another bullpen Wednesday at Anaheim. … A’s LHP Brett Anderson, who left his outing Saturday after the sixth inning because of tightness in his left elbow, might have his next start pushed back. He didn’t throw Sunday and will test his arm again Tuesday. … CF Coco Crisp, yet to make his Oakland debut because of a broken left pinkie finger, is set to begin baseball activities in two weeks. … Oakland RHP Michael Wuertz, on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, pitched two scoreless innings in a rehab outing for Class-A Stockton. He threw 21 strikes among his 26 pitches.
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