In a game twice delayed by rain, the Cleveland Indians of Cleveland beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Progressive Field on Tuesday. It was a Dolly Parton final score, 9 to 5.
Before getting shut out by the Angels on Monday, the Indians had been swinging hot bats of late, scoring 32 runs in the four games between last Thursday and last Sunday, so it was good to see them get back on track by scoring 9 runs on 14 hits. Even better, half of those hits were for extra bases. Jack Hannahan had two doubles. Shin-Soo Choo had a double and a triple. Jose Lopez went 3 for 4 with a double, Casey Kotchman went 2 for 4 with a double, and Shelley Duncan hit a home run, his third in the last four games.
As gratifying as it is to see the Indians get plenty of hits, it’s equally gratifying to see them hustle, to take the extra base. Choo’s triple led off the home half of the first inning. Hannahan’s eighth-inning hit to center field looked like a single to me, but he kept his head down and kept running, and he turned it into a double.
The best hustle, though, came in the fifth inning. Having seen their 4-0 lead turn into a 5-4 deficit in the top of the inning, courtesy of a Jack Hannahan throwing error on what should have been an inning-ending double play, followed by home runs from Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the Indians needed to get some more runs on the board and regain the momentum they’d surrendered. And they did just that. Choo led off the inning with a double. With one out, Jason Kipnis was intentionally walked. Lopez’s double tied the score and sent Kipnis to third. Michael Brantley then hit a ground ball to Pujols at first. Pujols stepped on first to retire Brantley, then threw to home to try to throw out a sliding Kipnis. Pujols’s throw was off the mark, so Kipnis scored the go-ahead run. When Lopez saw the ball get past Angels catcher John Hester, he too broke for the plate. Angels pitcher Hisanori Takahashi took Hester’s throw at home, and it looked as though Lopez would be out, but his knee knocked the ball from Takahashi’s glove, and he was safe. After having squandered the four-run lead in the top of the inning, getting three runs and regaining the lead in the bottom half was huge.
Apart from that shaky fifth inning, Indians starter Zach McAllister turned in a solid performance. He did seem rattled after that non-double play, hence the home runs to Trout and Pujols. But in his defense, only three of the runs he allowed in that fifth inning were earned runs. Trout’s leading the league in batting average and is sixth in slugging, and Albert Pujols, is, well, Albert Pujols. Besides Mark Trumbo, who’s having a monster season at the plate, they’re the two guys in the Angels lineup who can do the most damage.
The Bullpen Mafia did a great job, with Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Esmil Rogers each pitching scoreless innings. Since coming to the Indians from the Colorado Rockies in mid-June, Rogers has given up only 2 earned runs in 11⅓ innings of work; that’s an ERA of 1.59. If he can continue to pitch at or near this level, he’ll be a valuable member of the pen in the second half of the season.
The game was twice delayed by rain by about 45 minutes each time, in the eighth and ninth innings.
The win ensured that the Indians will reach the midway point of the season, which will come after Wednesday’s game, with at least 41 wins, or better than .500. Last year they were 44-37 after 81 games.
Find me on the Twitter machine: https://twitter.com/VernMorrison