Bradley Zimmer had three hits including a home run on All-Star Chris Bassitt’s first pitch, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Oakland Athletics 4-2 on Sunday.
Daniel Johnson, who grew up about 30 minutes north of the Coliseum and had a group of family and friends in attendance, connected for his first career home run and made a sparkling defensive play to help the Indians win their fifth in six games.
“It’s a nice way to start the game,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “He and Daniel Johnson, that was pretty much our offense. Both of them swung the bat well.”
Zach Plesac pitched six strong innings to win in his second start since breaking his right thumb while taking off his jersey in late May.
Seth Brown hit his 11th home run for Oakland. The A’s have lost five of their past six series.
Bassitt (10-3) had won 10 consecutive decisions before his first loss since April 6. Bassitt had eight strikeouts and allowed three runs in seven innings.
“When a guy’s swinging first pitch and expecting a fastball and I throw it middle-middle, bad things are going to happen,” Bassitt said. “If I execute a pitch it’s one out.”
Batting atop the order for the second time this season, Zimmer hit his second career leadoff home run to get the Indians started, added a bloop RBI single in the fifth, then singled in Oscar Mercado in the ninth after Mercardo reached on a throwing error by third baseman Matt Chapman.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done that but yeah that’s exactly what I was looking for,” Zimmer said of his opening home run. “That immediately puts momentum on our side.”
Johnson, who flew out to deep right to end the second with runners on first and third, drove in the go-ahead run with his home run to center on a 3-2 pitch from Bassitt.
Earlier Johnson made a sparkling sliding catch running toward the right field line to rob Sean Murphy of a hit in the second.
“It was crazy, it was incredible,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had a series win against the A’s in a long time. Contributing, hitting my first home run, was even better.”
Plesac (5-3) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings.
Nick Wittgren and Phil Maton retired three batters apiece. Bryan Shaw pitched the ninth for his second save.
Oakland scored its first run on a throwing error by Cleveland second baseman Ernie Clement and tied it on Brown’s home run off Plesac in the fifth.
Two batters before Brown’s home run, Ramón Laureano was thrown out trying to extend a double after the ball skipped past Zimmer in center field. After Zimmer’s throw to third base was wide, José Ramirez raced back to the bag and tagged a sliding Laureano, who had paused briefly after rounding second. The play was reviewed and confirmed.
“There’s nobody out but when you’re not scoring any runs you’re trying to make something happen,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Kind of out there in no man’s land and he kind of saw how far the third baseman was away and took a chance of getting there. It just didn’t work out.”
Indians: 2B Cesar Hernandez was given the day off.
Indians: RHP C.J. Mejia (1-4, 7.42 ERA) will be called up from Triple-A Columbus to face Zack Greinke (8-3, 3.59) and the Astros in Houston on Monday.
Athletics: LHP Cole Irvin (6-8, 3.65) pitches against All-Star RHP Shohei Ohtani (4-1, 3.49) in the opener of a two-game series against the Angels on Monday. Irvin is winless in two starts against Los Angeles this season.