On a day when the game was largely in the hands of the relievers, home runs proved to be the Cleveland Indians’ greatest offensive weapon.
The Indians (96-57) belted a pair of home runs, and combined between a solo blast and three-run round-tripper, they earned a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels (76-76) at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California, Thursday afternoon.
By sweeping the Angels, the Indians extended their franchise record to 14 straight road wins and earned their 51st victory of the season away from Progressive Field. Also, they maintained a two-game lead over the Houston Astros for the best record in the American League.
Although the Angels took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when designated hitter Albert Pujols doubled home center fielder Mike Trout with a hit to left-center off of Indians starter Danny Salazar, the Tribe’s bats had a response.
After taking a called first-pitch strike, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion smashed a slider from Angels starter Parker Bridwell over the wall and into the seats in left field for Cleveland’s first run of the game, which evened the score at 1-1 in the top of the second inning.
Then, in the top of the fifth inning, the Indians took a 4-1 lead on a three-run blast from shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Catcher Yan Gomes led off the frame with a single to center field and third baseman Giovanny Urshela followed with a single of his own to left field. Infielder Erik Gonzalez attempted to move up both runners by a base with a sacrifice bunt, but it turned into a fielder’s choice when Gomes was forced at third base.
However, Lindor made up for the misguided bunt attempt when he smashed a 1-0 pitch from Bridwell over the wall in center field for his 32nd home run of the season, a Major League record for the most round-trippers by a switch-hitting shortstop.
Limited to around 50 pitches while continuing to work his way back from right forearm/elbow issues, Salazar allowed two hits, two walks and one earned run with four strikeouts over 2.2 innings of work against the Angels.
Reliever Zach McAllister gave up just one walk over 1.2 innings out of the bullpen, and fellow right-hander Dan Otero worked his way around a hit.
Continuing to work his way through and back from knee tendonitis that has plagued him over the second half of the season, All-Star reliever Andrew Miller worked around two walks and a hit to strikeout three Angels hitters in the bottom of the seventh inning.