The two veteran pitchers told each other to keep fighting and that they'd meet again in the big leagues sometime this season. Well, they both made it back, but unfortunately for the Indians, Jackson returned just in time to pitch Oakland to a 7-2 victory at the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Jackson, pitching in his 16th season, worked 6 2/3 innings to improve to 10-1 in his career over the Indians. The Indians took a 2-0 lead on homers by Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez in the fourth, but that was the extent of their offense.
"He still after all these years maintains his velocity," said manager Terry Francona of Jackson. "Like Friday night, there were a lot of balls off-speed in and out of the zone and we're chasing them. We're not earning enough fastball righs now and, until we do, they're going to keep throwing balls out of the zone and make us go get them."
Adam Plutko (4-2, 4.66) went from good to bad for the Indians. Plutko opened the game with 12 straight outs. He didn't give up his first hit until Khris Davis doubled to start the fifth.
Plutko entered the sixth with a 2-0 lead, but the game turned in a hurry. Franklin Barreto doubled over Michael Brantley's head in left field and No.9 hitter Josh Phegley turned Plutko's 1-2 pitch into a game-tying two-run homer.
In the Phegley at-bat, he hit a foul pop behind the plate. Catcher Yan Gomes went back to catch it, but it hit a TV camera before he could get a glove on it.
"It went up in the air, came down and hit a camera," said Gomes. "I was going for it. I would have been a much better play if I caught it."
Said Plutko, "A couple bounces didn't go our way. If the camera guy is three feet over to the left or right, or any direction, maybe we get an out there instead of a home run."
Dustin Fowler followed Phegley with a single and Mark Canha doubled him home for the lead with a drive off the left-field scoreboard. The A's finished the Indians with four runs in the eighth as Fowler (off Dan Otero) and Matt Olson (off Josh Tomlin) homered. The inning included a throwing error by catcher Yan Gomes and two wild pitches. It was not pretty.
"I felt good throughout, especially with fastball command," said Plutko. "Then I started creeping up in the zone. It might have been on the outer corner, but it just started creeping up. The pitch to Canha that he hit for the double, that's exactly what it was."
The A's, who have won seven straight games against the Tribe at the Coliseum, have won six straight overall.
Plutko allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.
Jackson, 34 and pitching for his 13th big-league team, retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before manager Bob Melvin went to the bullpen. Jackson has won 10 straight decisions against the Indians dating back to Aug. 5, 2008.
Saturday was Jackson's second start for the A's. He signed a minor-league deal with Washington in January and opened the year at Class AAA Syracuse. Perez was pitching Triple-A ball for the Yankees at the same time.
"We played each other twice and said we were both going to make it back to the big leagues," said Perez before Saturday's game.
Washington released Jackson (1-0, 2.13) on June 1 and he signed another minor-league deal with the A's.
The Indians started this trip fueled by a seven-game winning streak. But they've hardly looked like a hot team. They've scored 10 runs in five games. Three times they've scored two or fewer runs.
The homers by Lindor (No. 20) and Ramirez (No. 24) were the Indians' only hits until Brantley singled with one out in the ninth. The Indians proceeded to load the bases in the ninth, but Yonder Alonso hit into a 3-6-1 double play to end the threat.
"When we were at home, we were putting together good at-bats and had a plan as an offense and we were executing it," said Jason Kipnis. "Maybe there's been little uptick in the pitchers we're facing, but it seems we're getting away from our plan much too fast or not getting into it fast enough
"I just don't think we're making the right adjustments or doing the little things like getting guys on base and getting them over when the long ball or extra base hits aren't coming. Sometimes you have to manufacture runs and bigger innings will come."
What it means
The Indians are 1-4 on this nine-game, 10-day trip through St. Louis, Oakland and Kansas City.
Plutko threw 90 pitches, 55 (61 percent) for strikes. Jackson threw 86 pitches, 52 (60 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Indians and A's drew 17,748 fans to the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. First pitch was at 4:07 p.m. with a temperature of 81 degrees.
Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger (6-3, 3.03) will face right-hander Frankie Montas (4-1, 3/68) on Sunday in the conclusion of this three-game series. SportsTime Ohio and WLKR/FM 95.3 will carry the game.