After struggling out of the gate after the All-Star break, the Cleveland Indians are red-hot. Winners of six games in a row and seven of their last ten, today they were looking for their second straight series sweep (sandwiched around a victory over the Cincinnati Reds in a makeup game) with a victory today against the Los Angeles Angels. They did just that, and it looks like the Tribe may finally be finding their stride in what has been an up-and-down season.
The Indians got on the board first when Carlos Santana hit his 13th home run of the year off Angels right-hander JC Ramirez to lead off the second inning. The home run was Santana’s third in his last four games, and with three hits Wednesday night, he seems to be over his earlier struggles.
'Los in July: .343 BA, four home runs.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 27, 2017
Meanwhile, Indians starter Trevor Bauer was terrific to start the game, allowing just two hits and a walk through his first four innings of work. Bauer was aggressive, pitched with a quick rhythm, and did a wonderful job of mixing his pitches.
The Angels came back to tie the game at one in the top of the fifth inning. Kole Calhoun singled to center field and advanced to second on a groundout by Andrelton Simmons. After Luis Valbuena popped out to Francisco Lindor at shortstop, C.J. Cron singled to center field and Calhoun beat the throw to the plate to score the Angels’ first run of the game. . At this point, Bauer looked as if he may come unglued, particularly after he gave up a double to Juan Graterol, but to his credit, he came back to strike out Kaleb Cowart to end the inning.
The Indians nearly took the lead back in the bottom of the fifth inning. Giovanny Urshela walked with one out, and tried to score on a double to center field by Bradley Zimmer. Graterol caught Mike Trout‘s through and was able to tag Urshela. The Indians protested, saying that Urshela was safe and that Graterol had illegally blocked the plate, but both protests were denied, and we went to the sixth inning with the game tied at one run apiece.
The Angels threatened to take the lead in the top of the seventh inning. Simmons singled to center, and Valbuena doubled to left field to give the Angels runners at second and third base with no outs. Typically, this has been the type of situation that singles Bauer unwinding. Instead, he was able to get Cron to ground out to Urshela at third, struck out pinch hitter Yunel Escobar, and forced Cowart to ground out to Lindor at shortstop to get out of the inning unscathed.
— SportsTime Ohio (@SportsTimeOhio) July 27, 2017
The Indians retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Brandon Guyer walked, and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt to JC Ramirez by Roberto Perez. Austin Jackson then pinch hit for Urshela, and drew a walk of his own before Erik Gonzalez pinch ran for him. After Zimmer struck out swinging, Lindor singled to right field to give the Indians a 2-1 lead, and chase Ramirez from the game. While Michael Brantley struck out swinging to end the inning, that was all the Indians needed. Bauer went eight innings to finish off a masterful performance, and Cody Allen pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 18th save in 19 chances as the Indians finished off their second straight sweep, going 7-0 on their homestand and moving to 55-45 on the season. The win also gave them a two-game lead over the idle Kansas City Royals.
Things I Noticed
I’m not the biggest Trevor Bauer fan. While he undoubtedly has terrific stuff, I’ve felt that his attitude off the field makes him hard to root for, and his mental approach to pitching causes him to make things harder than they should be. That being said, there’s no doubt that he was extremely impressive today. Bauer pitched eight great innings, allowing just one run. He threw two-thirds of his pitches for strikes, and never seemed rattled. In fact, every time the Angels threatened, Bauer seemed to just refocus and attack even more. Hopefully this is the beginning of a turnaround in what has been a tough season so far for Bauer.
With Santana and Lindor heating up, the Indians’ offense has been clicking. Their hitting has offset a quiet slump by Jose Ramirez, who had just two hits in this series. Considering how Ramirez has carried the Indians for long stretches this season, it’s fair to say they owe him a bit of a pick-me-up.
Hitters on both sides were unhappy with the pitches that were called strikes today. In particular, pitches that seemed high and outside were regularly called for strikes. While it wasn’t ideal, it was called the same way for both teams.
The Tribe is back at it tomorrow evening as they head to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox for the first half of a six game road trip. Until then, GO TRIBE!