CLEVELAND -- One night after coming from behind with three runs against seventh-inning reliever Trevor Gott, the Indians went off against Angels setup man Joe Smith in the eighth, getting a go-ahead double by Carlos Santana and a game-breaking grand slam by Yan Gomes to capture an 8-3 win from Progressive Field on Saturday.
Gomes knew the ball was leaving the ballpark right off the bat.
"Oh man, I sure hoped I did," Gomes said with a laugh, "because I was really excited about it. I hit it pretty good, but then when you see [Mike] Trout turning and burning you're like, 'OK, maybe I should start running a little bit.' But yeah, I knew I got it."
The Indians won their fourth straight game and their seventh in their last nine while the Angels continued to nosedive. They've dropped 23 of their last 35 overall and 15 of their last 18 on the road, falling 6 1/2 games back of the Astros in the American League West and 2 1/2 back of the Rangers for the second Wild Card spot.
Smith, an integral part of the Indians' bullpen from 2009-13, took over a 3-3 game in the eighth inning and promptly gave up line-drive singles to Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley. Santana followed with an RBI double down the right-field line and Smith elected to intentionally walk Lonnie Chisenhall with first base open.
On Smith's next pitch, an 88-mph fastball out over the plate, Gomes brought everyone in with a towering shot into the bushes in center field, igniting an announced crowd of 22,843 and keeping Cleveland's hopes of October baseball alive.
The Indians (62-66) are still five games back of the final playoff spot, with five teams to jump.
"Trying to throw sinker in, missed middle-middle," Smith said of his pitch to Gomes, which resulted in the first home run he had allowed to a right-handed hitter all season. "That's what happens, you know? If you don't throw the ball where you want to, the guy with the bat is going to do some damage."
Saturday's game included a 38-minute rain delay in the bottom of the third.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED First-pitch hunting:Corey Kluber's first pitch of the night was a 91-mph fastball, which Kole Calhoun sent to deep right field for a leadoff home run to give the Angels a quick lead. In the fourth, Kluber began the inning with a 90-mph heater that former Indians outfielder David Murphy sent to straightaway center for another leadoff shot. On the year, five of the 19 homers yielded by Kluber have come on the first pitch. Kluber took a no-decision after giving up three runs in six innings, and ended with six strikeouts and three walks.
"I don't think that it was my best outing tonight," Kluber said. "But I found a way to kind of battle through it and keep the team in it and give the team a chance to win. And, ultimately, the offense pulled through with a big inning."
Trout stays cold, offense follows:Mike Trout went 0-for-3 with a walk and is now batting .194 in August, making this his least productive month since his first full season in 2012. With Trout struggling, the Angels are last in the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and runs per game in August. Prior to the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Trout's slump is not a result of the wrist injury he suffered in late July.
"To be honest with you, if Mike was doing his normal stuff, it still might not be enough right now," Scioscia said postgame. "We've got to get our lineup deep. Not one guy is going to carry us, even if he's locked in. We need to re-establish our depth in the lineup. Some of that will happen when get guys healthy again, and that's what we're looking forward to. [David] Freese is hopefully right around the corner." More >
Lonnie stays hot: After the rain delay in the bottom of the third, Brantley led off with a single to set up an eventual two-on, two-out situation for Chisenhall. Cleveland's right fielder sliced a pitch into left for a two-run single to give the Tribe a temporary 3-1 lead. Since being recalled from Triple-A on July 30, Chisenhall has hit .408 (29-for-71) for the Tribe.
Richards recovers:Garrett Richards gave up three runs on six hits in the first three innings, requiring 63 pitches to record only nine outs. Then, he turned it on. Relying heavily on his curveball and slider, the hard-throwing 27-year-old right-hander allowed just one baserunner over the next four frames, striking out six of the 13 batters he faced. Richards took the mound for the seventh with 103 pitches, then needed only 14 more to record a 1-2-3 inning, which finished with a strikeout of All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis.
"I just continue to be aggressive," Richards said. "I started mixing in some nice breaking balls there, trying to keep guys off balance. I was just trying to battle, trying to give us a chance to win, trying to keep us in the game."
"That was a really good at-bat. Frankie's only faced [Smith] I think once, but you could tell he spread out and he stayed real short and fouled off some tough pitches. That was really big. The whole inning -- Brantley, Santana -- they got the ball up and did something with it. But Frankie's at-bat was really big. And then it led to Gomer." -- Indians manager Terry Francona, on Lindor's eight-pitch leadoff at-bat in the eighth More >
"We're playing with more energy. I'm not sure what the reason for it is, but I think that it's kind of eye-opening when you go out there. It shows us that that's the way we need to play every day. It's not just, 'Show up and be ready to go.' It's, 'Come out there with energy from the first pitch.'" -- Kluber
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Prior to Calhoun's first-inning, first-pitch homer off Kluber on Saturday, the last Angels batter to have a first-pitch blast to lead off a game was Maicer Izturis on June 7, 2008, on the road against Oakland. The last Indians pitcher to give up a first-pitch, game-opening homer was also Kluber on Sept. 11, 2013 (Kansas City's Alex Gordon). Murphy's shot made him the first player to homer for the Indians and against the Indians in the same season since Russell Branyan in 2010.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels:Jered Weaver (6-9, 4.59 ERA) takes the ball for Sunday's 10:10 a.m. PT series finale in hopes of getting back on track, after being charged with six runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings against the Tigers on Tuesday. The 33-year-old right-hander was hurt by a fly ball that fell between Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun that night and had been sharp since returning from the disabled list, posting a 2.08 ERA in three prior starts.
Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin (2-1, 3.26 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Tribe in the finale of this three-game set with the Angels at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at Progressive Field. All seven runs allowed by Tomlin since rejoining the Indians' rotation have come via home runs. In his three starts back with Cleveland, the righty has 18 strikeouts against two walks in 19 1/3 innings.