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With offense heating up, Indians host A's

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians finally are shaking the doldrums that plagued them for most of the first two months of the season.

In back-to-back home wins Sunday and Monday, the Indians' pitchers and hitters both had productive games.

On Tuesday night, in the second game of a four-game series with the Oakland A's, Cleveland will attempt to make it three wins in a row.

The Indians' offense has been in a slumber for most of the season, but in the past two games, a 10-1 win over Kansas City on Sunday, then a 5-3 win over Oakland on Monday, Cleveland collected 25 hits and cracked four home runs.

Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning Monday, which left Indians manager Terry Francona hoping for more.

"If we can get those two hot at the same time ...," Francona said.

Cleveland hitters will face a bigger challenge Tuesday. They will be facing A's starter Sonny Gray.

Gray began the season on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, and Tuesday will be his sixth start of the season. He is 2-1 with a 3.34 ERA. In his last start on Wednesday against the Miami Marlins, Gray was very good, pitching seven innings and allowing one run on three hits with 11 strikeouts and one walk.

Talk is already growing louder about Gray possibly being a trade target for contenders come July should the A's remain an also-ran.

In five career starts against Cleveland, Gray is 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA.

The Indians' starter will be Trevor Bauer, who has blown hot and cold this season. In nine starts, Bauer is 4-4 with a 6.30 ERA. He is 2-0 with a 4.24 ERA over his past three starts.

In three career starts versus Oakland, he is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA.

The Indians are still playing without three outfielders who were on their Opening Day roster but are currently on the disabled list: Brandon Guyer (wrist sprain), Abraham Almonte (biceps strain) and Lonnie Chisenhall (concussion).

Even so, Cleveland is still getting good play from veterans Michael Brantley in left field and Austin Jackson in right plus rookie Bradley Zimmer in center field.

The A's are on the last leg of a seven-game, two-city trip to New York, where they lost two of three games to the Yankees, and to Cleveland.

Oakland features an all-or-nothing offense, filled with lots of home runs and lots of strikeouts. In the first game of the Cleveland series Monday, the A's hit three home runs and struck out 12 times.

The A's rank third in the league in home runs, and they have the fourth-most strikeouts.

"That's who we are," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We hit a lot of home runs and we strike out a lot. If we're losing, every inning our pitchers put up a zero is good, because we feel we can get back into games with a home run."

Cleveland's pitchers are in the middle of the pack when it comes to allowing home runs, while Oakland's staff has surrendered the fewest homers in the American League.

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