Allen enters series with A’s as Indians’ career saves leader
CLEVELAND — Cody Allen is one of the least acclaimed yet most productive closers in the major leagues. On Friday night. when the Cleveland Indians open a three-game series with the Oakland A’s, Allen will be in uniform at Progressive Field for the first time as the Indians’ career saves leader.
In pitching the ninth inning of a 3-2 Cleveland win in Kansas City on Wednesday, Allen posted his 140th career save, breaking Bob Wickman’s franchise record of 139, which had stood since 2006.
“He means so much to all of us,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Allen. “This is a kid who was drafted in the 16th round, but through being a consummate professional, he’s now the Indians’ all-time leader. That’s pretty awesome. It’s a big accomplishment, and he’s not close to being done.”
Allen (2-3, 3.38 ERA) ranks seventh in the American League this year with 18 saves, but his year-in, year-out consistency has been his trademark. He has had at least 30 saves in each of the last three seasons. Only two other closers in the majors can say that: the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen and Boston’s Craig Kimbrel.
“This is something I’m extremely proud of,” Allen said of passing Wickman as the club’s saves leader. “It’s something I get to hang my hat on for my career. It’s very cool.”
The A’s (48-39) come to Cleveland with nearly the same record as the Indians (48-37), but what a difference a division makes. The first-place Indians lead the AL Central by 11 1/2 games. The A’s are in third in the AL West, 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Houston Astros.
The A’s won two of three games from the Indians last weekend in Oakland. That was part of a longer streak in which the A’s have won eight of their last nine. Since June 16, Oakland is 14-3.
“I think we’re having a lot of fun,” A’s third baseman Matt Chapman told MLB.com, “and no matter what the score is, I don’t think we count ourselves out. There’s no panic in the dugout. We just keep playing our game. We trust that we’re a good team.”
On Friday night, the A’s will send Paul Blackburn (2-2, 6.46 ERA) to the mound. In his last start on June 29 in Oakland, Blackburn baffled the Indians, pitching 6 1/3 scoreless innings and giving up just three hits in a 3-1 victory.
Blackburn has started five major league games this year. In the one against Cleveland, he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and an opponents’ batting average of .150. In the other four starts, he’s 1-2 with an 8.83 ERA and an opponents’ batting average of .324. In two career starts against the Indians, Blackburn is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA.
Cleveland will counter with Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 4.24), who will make his first start since June 16, a 9-3 loss to Minnesota in which he was knocked out of the game in the second inning after getting hit in the right arm by a line drive off the bat of Joe Mauer.
Carrasco was placed on the 10-day disabled list the next day with a right elbow contusion. He made one rehab start at Double-A Akron on June 30, pitching four scoreless innings and giving up one hit with four strikeouts and one walk.
Carrasco’s last legitimate start was his best start of the year, a 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on June 11. In that game, he pitched seven scoreless innings and gave up two hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts.
In six career appearances, including five starts, against Oakland, Carrasco is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA.