By Jordan Bastian and Shane Jackson
MLB.com |@MLBastian |
CLEVELAND -- Good teams take advantage of a chance to pick up wins against opponents they should beat on paper. The Indians did just that this weekend, notching a 5-4 win Sunday afternoon to complete a four-game sweep over the Angels at Progressive Field.
The four-game streak for the Tribe increased Los Angeles' skid to 10 games, marking the club's longest drought since an 11-game slump from July 16-26, 1999. The last time Cleveland swept the Angels in a four-game series also came in 1999 (Aug. 30-Sept. 2).
The win went to Trevor Bauer, who allowed four runs on five hits in six innings, in which the bulk of the damage came via home runs by Ji-Man Choi and Geovany Soto. Angels righty Jered Weaver was unable to capitalize on L.A.'s 4-1 lead through four innings, though. Weaver yielded five runs on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings en route to the loss.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bottom feeders: The lower third of the Tribe nine came up big. Naquin, Almonte and Roberto Perez ended the afternoon a combined 5-for-10 with one stolen base, two doubles, two walks, two RBIs and three runs scores. Naquin tied the game with an RBI double in the sixth and then scored on Almonte's single to left.
"No matter where I hit," Almonte said, "when I come to the plate, I just try to do my best to help my team to win. I did a pretty good job today and that's real important to me." More >
Blasts off Bauer: The Angels played from in front for a good chunk of the contest thanks to a pair of homers off the Tribe hurler. In the second, Choi connected on a two-run homer to right and Soto went yard in the fourth to left-center, putting the Angels up, 4-1. Per Statcast™, Soto's solo shot traveled 416 feet at 105 mph, per Statcast™. Los Angeles led all of baseball with 152 runs in July, scoring 5.8 runs per game. In August, the Angels have averaged 3.6 runs through the first 12 games with 27 of their 44 runs coming via homers.
"It's easy to look at this game and see some positives where things went right," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Also where the game got away. To win a game, you need to do a lot of things on the field." More >
Kipnis stays hot: The Indians' second baseman headed into Sunday's action with a .331 average and .981 OPS dating back to July 1, and he kept it up. With one out in the first, Kipnis drilled a 3-1 offering from Weaver out to right for his 20th home run. The blast had an exit velocity of 105 mph and soared 407 feet, per Statcast™.
"I'm more happy to get off 19 than I am to hit 20," Kipnis said with a laugh. "It's fun. It's cool. It's a fun thing to do that I can say that I've done now. No need to stop now, though."
Miller Time: Indians manager Terry Francona promised that he would use lefty Andrew Miller in leverage situations, and that has been the case. Since being acquired from the Yankees before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Miller has entered in the sixth (once), seventh (twice), eighth (twice) and ninth (once). He took over in the seventh Sunday and logged two innings to help the Tribe to the win column.
"I didn't know what to expect," Miller said of how Cleveland would use him. "It will still sort itself out a little bit. I think we're trying to figure out how to use guys. For me, flexibility is something that I think is a positive I can offer. However Tito wants to use me, I'll happily oblige." More >
"It's frustrating, we lost 10 games in a row. But we have to get ready to play. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. Hopefully we can turn things around." -- Albert Pujols, on team's skid
"The way that Miller was throwing, sometimes the best thing to do is just stay out of the way and let him go do his thing." -- Francona
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the fifth, Napoli rolled a chopper up the middle, where Angels second baseman Johnny Giavotella got a glove on the ball with the bases loaded and two away. Giavotella attempted to beat Lindor to second for the final out, but the Indians' shortstop was ruled safe, giving Napoli an infield single. The Angels ended up getting the third out on a play at the plate to maintain a one-run lead. Scioscia elected to challenge the ruling at second base, but the call was confirmed after a 47-second review.
[Cliff] Pennington is playing heavy pull," Scioscia said. "So is Giavotella, and when Johnny had the ball the real play was at first base. He just misread it."
On the play, Giavotella threw to Soto to cut down Carlos Santana, who was trying to score. Francona added that he felt Soto was blocking the plate, but he opted not to challenge the play after talking it over with the umpires.
"It's such a gray area," Francona said. "It's just such a gray area that it needs to be cleaned up, because by the rule, that guy's blocking the plate. But, if they're not going to overturn it, I don't want to burn a challenge. So, I'd like to, at some point, maybe get it clarified a little better."
MARTE, SOTO, PUJOLS EXIT
Leading off the top of the second, Halos first baseman Jefry Marte was drilled in the shoulder from a pitch by Bauer. The Angels did not use a pinch-runner for him, but pulled Marte from the game before the next half-inning. Choi took his place defensively at first and Gregorio Petit replaced him in the lineup as the cleanup hitter and left fielder. Marte's X-rays came back negative, according to Scioscia.
Catcher Geovany Soto was struck on a backswing in the sixth inning and left the game. He underwent X-rays, which were negative, and he's day to day. More >
Pujols was ejected from the game in the eighth by home-plate umpire Clint Fagan, after arguing over a called strike three to end the frame.
"I just told him that was terrible," Pujols said. "The 2-0 was a worse pitch than the last pitch. I should have been hitting 3-0. He only threw one strike, the one that I swung through. I don't complain too much about strikes, but you can't take an at-bat in that situation. You can't get caught up with the crowd. That's embarrassing." More >
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Los Angeles will begin a seven-game homestand starting with four against Seattle. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-9, 5.14 ERA) will take the bump for the Halos in the series opener on Monday at 7:05 p.m. PT, seeking his first win with his new team. Nolasco is 1-2 with a 4.00 ERA in three career starts against the Mariners.
Indians: Cleveland will host the Red Sox in a 1:10 p.m. ET tilt on Monday at Progressive Field, making up the April 7 contest that was rained out. Right-hander Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.18 ERA) is slated to start. After opening the year 9-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 15 starts, Tomlin has gone 2-4 with a 6.88 ERA in his past six turns.