CLEVELAND (AP) — Everything is going the Indians’ way. There’s no dispute or debate about that.
One day after the home run that wasn’t, Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds connected for homers and Scott Kazmir struck out 10 in six innings, leading Cleveland to a 9-2 win over Oakland on Thursday and a four-game sweep of the Athletics.
The Indians ended the series with a convincing blowout, only hours after they won 4-3 with the help of a blown call in the ninth inning when umpires, after watching a video replay, ruled that an apparent tying home run by Oakland’s Adam Rosales was a double.
Major League Baseball acknowledged the umpires made an “improper call,” but executive vice president Joe Torre said the “judgment” decision is final.
There was no argument on Thursday as the Indians put a resounding thumping on the A’s and won for the 10th time in 11 games.
“Our starting pitching is giving us a chance to win,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We have a very good bullpen. We’re playing well defensively. A lot of guys are contributing offensively. That’s a good way to play baseball.”
Kipnis hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Bartolo Colon (3-2) for the Indians, who improved to 13-4 since April 20. They got more good news after the game when center fielder Michael Bourn was activated from the 15-day disabled list after missing nearly one month with a cut finger.
Bourn will be ready for a three-game series against first-place Detroit starting Friday.
Kazmir (2-1), who at this time last year wasn’t even pitching professionally, allowed one run and five hits. The left-hander has won consecutive starts for the first time since 2010.
“I’m not thinking about last year or what happened before that,” Kazmir said. “I’m looking ahead. I’m throwing the ball well right now. I’m feeling better every time out.”
Josh Donaldson homered for the A’s, who fell to .500 for the first time since April 4 when they were 2-2. Oakland is just 6-14 after starting 12-4.
“They’re playing great and can’t do anything wrong and we’re struggling,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s what happens. What happened last night shouldn’t affect today. They just beat us.”
The Indians were already leading by six runs when MLB released a statement indicating umpire Angel Hernandez and his crew had erred Wednesday night. After watching a video replay, they failed to reverse a call and gave Rosales a double instead of a homer.
TV replays showed Rosales’ shot off Chris Perez had easily cleared the 19-foot-high wall.
“Given what we saw, we recognize that an improper call was made,” Torre said. “Perfection is an impossible standard in any endeavor, but our goal is always to get the calls right. Earlier this morning, we began the process of speaking with the crew to thoroughly review all the circumstances surrounding last night’s decision.”
MLB director of umpires Randy Marsh was sent to Progressive Field for the series finale to inspect the video replay equipment. Marsh did not find any problems and reported his findings to Torre.
Francona was pleased with Torre’s ruling, and understand it can be an imperfect game.
“I respect Joe and his statement and I’m glad it stands,” Francona said. “All you can ask is guys to do the best they can. They went and checked. Obviously, it wasn’t conclusive on what they saw, and so you move on. Those things have a way of evening out.”
Francona disagreed with any assertion the decision should be overturned.
“You can’t do that,” Francona said. “It’s not because we won. The rule is in place and you can’t change the rules. You do the best you can.”
The Indians, who came in leading the AL in homers, took a 2-0 lead in the first on Kipnis’ fourth homer, a two-run shot.
Michael Brantley singled to open the first off Colon and Kipnis followed by belting a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall, not far from where Rosales’ contested hit landed.
“I was happy that it stayed up there and someone caught it just to make sure there was no confusion about it,” Kipnis said.
He added a sacrifice fly in the second, when the Indians tacked on three runs to open a 5-0 lead.
Swisher led off the third by pulling Colon’s first pitch over the wall in right for his fifth homer and second in two days. Swisher, who played college ball at Ohio State, was typically animated after rounding the bases. He bashed forearms with Jason Giambi and raised arms to give the “O-H” gesture to Cleveland fans.
The Indians added three runs in the fifth, two coming on Reynolds’ AL-leading 11th homer.
Colon gave up six runs and eight hits in five innings. The right-hander, who pitched for the Indians from 1997 to 2002, hadn’t faced Cleveland since 2005.
“I felt good,” Colon said. “The only problem is the Cleveland team is hot right now.”
NOTES: The Indians entered the series having lost eight straight to Oakland. It was the Indians’ first-four game sweep of the A’s since 1999. ... To make room for Bourn, the Indians optioned LHP Scott Barnes to Triple-A Columbus. Barnes snagged a hard comebacker for the final out to finish the sweep. ... Kazmir had not posted double-digit strikeouts since Aug. 26, 2009 for Tampa. ... All five of Swisher’s homers have been at home. ... After playing three against the Tigers, the Indians will return home for a doubleheader Monday against the New York Yankees. The teams were rained out twice last month. ... RHP Vinnie Pestano (sore elbow) is scheduled to resume a throwing program this weekend.