CLEVELAND — Once Trevor Bauer got on a roll, he put on quite a show for the Cleveland Indians.
Bauer struck out an AL-best 14 in seven innings, and the Indians beat the Oakland Athletics 9-4 on Tuesday night.
“I like my strikeouts,” he said. “Half the balls they put in play were hits so I decided after the fourth I just wasn’t going to let them hit the ball anymore.”
Bauer’s career-best strikeout total was one shy of this season’s major league-high of 15 by Washington’s Stephen Strasburg against San Diego on Saturday.
Bauer (5-4) recorded his eighth career game of 10 or more strikeouts. He struck out the side in the first, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. As the total increased, the excitement at Progressive Field grew.
“Anytime the crowd is energized it’s a lot more fun to play, whether it’s a home run, strikeouts or a great defensive play, whatever the case may be,” said Bauer, who allowed three runs and seven hits with one walk.
Oakland third baseman Trevor Plouffe struck out twice against Bauer and whiffed four times in the game.
“When he gets in a groove, you saw how it played out,” he said. “Any time a guy like that is attacking the strike zone against an aggressive team, it’s bound to be that way.”
Four Cleveland pitchers combined to strike out 19, tying a franchise record for a nine-inning game.
“I wanted the 20th strikeout of the night, but it was fun,” Indians catcher Roberto Perez said with a laugh.
Rookie Bradley Zimmer had a career-high four RBIs for the Indians, hitting a two-run double in the fourth and a two-run homer in the eighth. Michael Brantley had an RBI single and threw a runner out at the plate in the fourth.
Cleveland (27-23) also got a leadoff drive in the fifth from Jason Kipnis. It has homered in 15 consecutive games.
Sonny Gray (2-2) allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings for Oakland (22-29), which dropped a season-high seven games below .500. The right-hander breezed through three innings before the Indians scored seven times in the fourth and fifth.
Matt Joyce drove in two runs and Ryon Healy also had an RBI single for Oakland.
Francisco Lindor drew a leadoff walk in the Cleveland fourth and Carlos Santana reached on a bunt hit. Edwin Encarnacion singled to left and Jose Ramirez doubled to right, cutting the lead to 3-2.
Zimmer then lined a double to right to put Cleveland ahead. Zimmer, the Indians’ No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, was called up from Triple-A Columbus on May 16.
Joyce had an RBI single in the first. Oakland scored twice in the fourth, but Brantley’s throw changed the game’s momentum. Healy’s double and Joyce’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Adam Rosales’ hard-hit grounder skipped past Lindor at shortstop, but Brantley’s throw from left field got Healy at the plate.
BIG NIGHT FOR THE KID
Zimmer was 2 for 4 and raised his batting average to .281. He has hit safely in eight of his 13 games since being called up.
“It’s fun to watch,” manager Terry Francona said. “He’s exciting once he gets going on the bases. He’s given us a real lift.”
Gray’s night fell apart in the fourth and fifth when he faced a total of 14 batters.
“The quicker I can put this game behind me, the better I’ll be,” he said. “I wasn’t able to put guys away. I was definitely off in my location.”
Athletics: LHP Sean Doolittle (strained left shoulder) threw 19 pitches in an extended spring training game, striking out four of the six hitters he faced. He has been on the disabled list since April 30.
Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea has won two straight starts, beating the Red Sox and Yankees while posting a 1.50 ERA with 11 strikeouts over 12 innings.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger has a 0-1 record with a 6.52 ERA in three appearances (one start) at Progressive Field this season.