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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 D.J. Fluker Color Rush Jersey , 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 Dontae Johnson Color Rush Jersey ,” 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 Saquon Barkley Jersey Elite , 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.
Joe Mauer didn’t receive any gifts for returning from a lengthy stint on the disabled list.
No, his reward was an immediate matchup against two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.
”Yeah, welcome back, right?” Mauer said with a laugh.
The six-time All-Star returned to the lineup on Friday after missing 25 games with a strained neck and concussion-like symptoms sustained when he was injured diving for a foul ball last month.
And while facing Kluber might not be an ideal first step back, the struggling Twins, who have one of the league’s weakest offenses, were thrilled to have Mauer back in their lineup.
”It’s good for any manager to have a chance to put a guy like Joe’s name down there,” said manager Paul Molitor, who had Mauer batting first against Kluber in the opener of a three-game series against the AL Central-leading Indians. ”Yeah, he’s in a good place, he’s excited to be here and we welcome him back. Hopefully, he can give us a little bit of a boost.”
The Twins came in seven games under .500 and batting just .238 as a team. They also entered the series with only three runs in the past 19 innings.
That’s not ideal against Kluber Mike Daniels Jersey , who is 5-0 with a 0.76 ERA against the AL Central this season.
”Obviously, he’s one of the best in the game,” Mauer said. ”That’s the big leagues. You’re going to face the best night in and night out. It’s a tough matchup first game, but the one tomorrow (Carlos Carrasco) is pretty tough, too. I’m just excited to be back.”
Mauer has been symptom-free for a week. He went hitless in 10 at-bats over three games in a rehab stint with Triple-A Rochester, but the three-time batting champion feels ready to go.
”It’s been going good,” said Mauer, who was batting .283 with one homer and 11 RBIs when he got hurt. ”Obviously, I went down there and got in a couple of games and did everything I had to do to get back here. I’m excited to check off those boxes, get a couple of at-bats and play in the field for nine innings.”
Mauer said he didn’t have to make any diving stops in the field at Rochester, and that he won’t alter his game just because of the recent injury.
”My experience is when you try to do that you end up getting hurt,” he said. ”I got the full clear to go and I’m excited for that.”.