The Cleveland Indians played host to the Los Angeles Angels last night for the second game of a four-game series that they hoped would be a momentum builder for their run towards the playoffs. With a four-game lead over the Detroit Tigers, the Tribe hoped to use this series against the Angels—currently in last place in the American League West—to extend their lead over the Tigers, who were in Texas to face the A.L. leading Rangers.
Carlos Carrasco took the mound for the Indians, while the Angels countered with left hander Tyler Skaggs. The Halos struck early when Kole Cahoun hit a solo home run to right field in the top of the first inning. Mike Trout then had a double on what was obviously a foul ball past third base that the umpire called fair. Albert Pujols then singled to left to score Trout, and make it 2-0 Angels. Carrasco continued to get knocked around as Geovany Soto doubled to left field while Pujols moved to third, but Cookie then struck out Jefry Marte to end the inning.
The Indians answered back in the bottom of the first inning. Rajai Davis led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk and then moved to second and third on his 29th and 30th stolen bases of the year. The red hot Jason Kipnis then singled to left field to score Davis and cut the Angels’ lead to 2-1. Unfortunately, Skaggs struck out Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez around a line out to second by Mike Napoli to keep the lead after an eventful first inning.
The Tribe tied the game in the bottom of the second inning, when Skaggs gave up a home run to Brandon Guyer. This was Guyer’s eighth home run of the year and his first as an Indian. Unfortunately, the Angels came right back to take the lead in the top of the third, when Calhoun doubled to deep center, moved to third on a while pitch, and scored on a ground out by Pujols.
The Indians came back again in the bottom of the fourth inning when Ramirez singled, stole second and third, and scored on a single by Abraham Almonte.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth inning, the floodgates opened. Davis singled and then stole second for his third steal of the night. Kipnis then doubled to left center to score Davis and give the Indians their first lead of the night. Lindor followed that up with a single to right field to score Kipnis. Mike Napoli then got into the action with a single of his own, and Lindor advanced to third base on a throwing error by Angels left fielder Shane Robinson. Guyer finished up the explosion by driving in Lindor for his second RBI of the night, and before you knew it, the Indians led 7-3.
A bit of deja vu then occurred for Carrasco in the top of the sixth inning when he began to repeatedly throw over to first base for no apparent reason. This happened in his last start as well, and just like his last start, it ended after pitching coach Mickey Callaway came to the mound for a talk with him. The Indians have been unclear on why Carrasco has been doing this lately, but it’s certainly a strange habit for a pitcher to start in the middle of a season.
The Indians’ offense kept pouring it on and what was a close game became a blowout. The Tribe scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, one run in the seventh, and three runs in the bottom of the eighth to blow out the Angels by a final score of 13-3.
It was an incredible offensive showing from the Indians for the second game in a row. Jason Kipnis finished with four hits—including two doubles—and a stolen base, Rajai Davis reached base three times and had three stolen bases, Jose Ramirez had four hits—including a home run and a double—to go along with three stolen bases, Francisco Lindor had three hits, and Brandon Guyer had three hits, including his first home run as and Indian, and a whopping five RBI. Any one of these would be considered a great night, the kind of night that can carry a team to victory. All of those in one night added up to one of the most impressive offensive performances in recent Indians history with 17 hits, four doubles, two home runs, and a whopping eight stolen bases.
The pitching more than did it’s part too. After a rocky start to the game, Carrasco pitched a solid game, allowing three runs on eight hits and no walks in seven innings. Bryan Shaw and Zach McAllister combined for two perfect innings in the eighth and ninth, and the Indians won two games in a row for the first time this month.
With the Tigers and Rangers in a delay as this is being written, the Indians were able to push their lead in the American League Central Division to 4.5 games. They’ve scored 27 runs over the last two games, sport an American League-best point differential of +100, and are on pace to win 93 games this season. There’s no doubt that the Indians haven’t been quite the same team since the All-Star Break, and hopefully this series, and the 11-game homestand that it is the start of, will mark the return of the dominant team that the Indians were in June. If so, then they will have a great chance of staying in the driver’s seat of the A.L. Central.