Usually you have a pretty good feeling when your baseball team is going up against the other team’s fifth starter. Almost by definition, that starter is someone you figure you have a decent chance of beating. You don’t expect the fifth starter to shut your team down.
Tonight the Angels sent Matt Shoemaker, their fifth starter, out to face the Indians. And Shoemaker shut the Indians down, giving up only two runs over eight innings. He walked only one batter and struck out ten. The Indians cobbled together a second-inning run on a walk, a single, and a groundout, and Lonnie Chisenhall hit a solo homer in the fourth, but that was all the damage they were able to do. At one point Shoemaker retired ten Indians batters in a row. He left the game after eight innings with the Angels up, 9-2. The Tribe tacked on a meaningless run in the ninth inning against mop-up reliever Ernesto Frieri, thus making the final score 9-3, Angels.
Indians starter Josh Tomlin was not sharp tonight. He didn’t walk a batter in his 5 1/3 innings of work, but that is mostly because the Angels were too busy batting the ball all over the outfield, and into the seats for homers, as Tomlin allowed 11 hits. He gave up a run in the first inning, but the fifth inning was his real downfall. Two singles in that frame, coupled with an error by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, brought one run in. Then Angels slugger Mike Trout worked an 0-2 count to 2-2 before hitting a three-run homer to give the Angels a 5-2 lead. Tomlin went on to give up a single and a double in the inning, which would have brought in another run were it not for a good outfield assist by Ryan Raburn. Tomlin led off the sixth inning by giving up a homer to Howie Kendrick, making the score 6-2, and effectively putting the game out of reach, thanks to Shoemaker’s fine outing.
The bright spots of the evening: Chisenhall went 2 for 4. Each of the first five batters in the Indians lineup got at least one hit.
Sad trombone: the bottom of the lineup, David Murphy, Nick Swisher, Yan Gomes, and Raburn, went a combined 1 for 14. Swisher’s batting average is now .200. Not exactly the kind of number you want to see from a guy with the letters DH after his name in the box score. Also, Josh Outman pitched poorly, giving up two hits (including a homer), two walks, and two runs in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Tonight’s loss brought the Indians back to .500, and leaves them three games behind the Kansas City Royals, the new overlords of the AL Central following their win over Detroit. The Indians and Angels will have at it again tomorrow evening.