Trevor Bauer notched his 10th win by holding a floundering Angels offense to just one run -- an RBI single by Kaleb Cowart -- in eight innings, scattering five hits, walking three and striking out seven to lower his ERA to 4.31.
"I thought tonight he did a much better job of kind of mixing and matching his pitches in, out," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Bauer. "One run in eight innings, we'll take that every time."
The Angels entered with the fewest runs per game and the lowest OPS in the American League this month and couldn't do enough to secure a win for Andrew Heaney, the rookie left-hander who shut the Indians out through six innings before an early exit. The Angels have lost 23 of their past 34 games and are now 1 1/2 back of the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot, while also trailing the Twins.
The Indians have won six of their past eight games and are five back of the second Wild Card, with five teams to jump.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED In a pinch: Trailing 1-0 in the seventh, the Indians called on their bench players when Gott took over for the Angels. Almonte, the third pinch-hitter in a row to open the inning, doubled home Jose Ramirez to tie the game. Kipnis and Santana later added an RBI single apiece to push the Tribe ahead, 3-1.
"Almonte jumping on a first-pitch fastball, driving it to left-center. That was obviously big," Francona said. "And we followed it up with a hit. Again, when you pitch like [Bauer did], all of a sudden you get a couple hits, and they're clutch hits instead of just feel-good hits."
Short leash: Heaney shut the Indians out through the first six frames, giving up six hits and a walk while throwing only 88 pitches. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia elected to pull Heaney 12 pitches shy of his career high and turned to Gott, the 23-year-old right-hander who entered with a 1.65 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP.
"There's no doubt that Andrew got us through a certain point in the game, and I think that he might've had another handful of pitches or another hitter or two," Scioscia said, "but we felt good starting with Trevor. Trevor's fresh, throwing the ball well. Unfortunately, today it didn't work out." More >
Staying grounded: Behind a sharp two-seamer, Bauer relied on a pile of groundouts against Los Angeles. The righty had 11 outs on the ground in his previous three starts combined, but had 11 outs via grounders on Friday. Bauer induced a career-best four double-play groundouts, including a pair to end an inning.
"It was nice to finally have that pitch back," Bauer said. "It disappeared for a couple months. It was really good last game, and it was good again tonight. I think I got four or five strikeouts on it and [three] double plays on it." More >
Punch-less: The Angels mustered only five hits and have now scored only three runs over their last three games, a stretch that includes a near no-hitter against Justin Verlander and one run in seven innings against Randy Wolf. Mike Trout, in the midst of his worst career month, walked in the first and was caught stealing for the second straight day. Albert Pujols doubled in the fourth, but former Indian David Murphy struck out on three pitches. And over the last three innings, the Angels had just one baserunner.
"It's all connected," Scioscia said. "Even though we gave up three runs in the seventh, we're not giving ourselves much margin for error to go out and make big plays and to pitch. That's a tough way."
"He was pretty upset at himself. Again, the enthusiasm, the aggressiveness, is really good. You just have to think before the play, 'When do I want to go? Where do I want to go? Why do I want to go?' Those things will get better, and we'll certainly keep reminding him. He's doing so many good things. It's just that's the one area where there's been a few hiccups." -- Francona, on rookie Francisco Lindor being thrown out at third base on a grounder to short by Santana in the sixth inning
"For what? … There's a guy named Carlos Correa who is pretty [darn] good. Kind of hard to beat that. I just go out and pitch." -- Heaney, when asked if he's thought about potentially winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award
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With his seven strikeouts on Friday, Bauer now has 152 on the season. That gives Cleveland four pitchers (Corey Kluber, 213; Carlos Carrasco, 173; and Danny Salazar, 162) with at least 150 strikeouts in the same season for the first time in team history. If all four pitchers reach 175 punchouts this year, the Indians will be the first American League club to achieve that feat in a single season.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels:Garrett Richards (12-10, 3.80 ERA) takes the mound for the second of a three-game series on Saturday. The 27-year-old right-hander is coming off a rough start against the Blue Jays, one that saw him give up nine runs (seven earned) on 10 hits and three walks in five innings. Richards got the loss despite being spotted a four-run lead that Sunday afternoon, but he has a 3.09 ERA over his previous 13 starts. This will be his first start in Cleveland.
Indians: Tribe ace Kluber (8-13, 3.43 ERA) is slated to take the hill on Saturday in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt against the Angels at Progressive Field. Over his past four starts, including a pair of complete games, the right-hander has posted a 2.56 ERA with 37 strikeouts and three walks in 31 2/3 innings. On Monday in Chicago, Kluber was perfect for five innings against the Cubs, ending with 11 strikeouts, no walks and one run allowed in 7 2/3 frames.