Mike Clevinger — called up from Columbus for his second Major League start — pitched one-hit ball through 5.2 innings and earned his first W as the Indians beat the Angels 5-1 in Saturday night’s game.
The rookie didn’t seem that dominant as he gave up four free passes, although he was clearly robbed on a two-strike pitch that was squarely in the lower zone yet called ball four in the second inning. Another walk in that frame, a deep sac fly, and a scorcher that third baseman Jose Ramirez robbed from being a double contributed to the Angels’ only run.
Meanwhile, the Tribe hitting machine stayed in gear, even if not the top speed they achieved in the prior two games. I must admit that when the Indians score double digits in a game, let alone two in a row, I fear they will hit a drought for a game or two. (As if the baseball gods dole out a quota of hits for the year and a team will be “corrected” if they cash in too much of that quota in a short time span.) However, the Tribe managed to spank out 14 hits to get their 5 runs.
Three of those hits came from Francisco Lindor, who now leads the Majors with 20 three-hit games, outpacing even the red-hot Jose Altuve in this category. And even more impressive, Lindor continues to contribute in ways that don’t show up in the box score. For instance, his first hit came after two quick outs in the first inning. Lindor hit a high chopper to second and hustled to beat the throw (just barely) to keep the inning alive. Mike Napoli followed with a single. Then Jose Ramirez delivered yet again with two outs by hitting a double that plated the first two runs. Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a single for an RBI and the Tribe’s third run.
Ramirez’s double extended his hitting streak to 17 games. Jose also contributed mightily with his glove. In addition to the aforementioned robbing of a double, Ramirez turned in a couple of other stellar plays at third, including the start of a double play in the ninth that quashed any glimmer of an Angels comeback.
Napoli had another single, too, extending his hitting streak to 13 games. Tyler Naquin broke a rare 0-19 skid with a solid double in the sixth.
In relief of rookie Clevinger, the Tribe bullpen was outstanding. Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen allowed only two Angels runners to reach base down the final 3.1 inning stretch — and both runners were gifted with walks. One of those came from Andrew Miller, but he ended up striking out the side with dominating stuff.
On Sunday, the Indians go for a four-game sweep of the Angels. And at just the right time to keep a healthy lead ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.