CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians had a difficult start to the second half of the 2017 season after a week-long break for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but a little home cooking has proven to be the recipe for success for the reigning American League champions.
After struggling at Progressive Field for much of the first half of the season, the Indians have won five straight in front of the home fans, including Tuesday’s 11-7 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, which came courtesy of an 11th-inning grand slam from designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.
“We have to play as a team and keep our heads up, even when we’re not playing well,” Encarnacion said. “We came off of that bad road trip, but thankfully, we’re back home, we got it together and things have turned out really well.”
The Indians got the win over the Angels on a night when starting pitcher Mike Clevinger did not have his best on the mound.
Clevinger allowed nine hits, including two home runs, two walks and six runs, five of which were earned, over 4.1 innings of work, and his season earned run average increased to 3.20 after the rough outing.
Despite striking out five Angels, Clevinger located the strike zone with only 54 of his 97 pitches (55.6 percent).
However, the Indians got plenty of help from the bullpen, as six other pitchers (Nick Goody, Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, Zach McAllister and Dan Otero) combined to give up just four hits, two walks and one earned run over 6.2 innings of work.
“I thought they really picked each other up,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Both bullpens really did a great job.
“We had to kind of stagger it a few times, but each guy kind of picked each other up. Shaw was tremendous, OT (Otero) with a big out getting Pujols. There were a lot of good things. I thought it was kind of a fun game to be a part of. It was a weird game, but there’s a lot going on.”
In addition to the bullpen, the Indians got a lift from outfielder Austin Jackson, who in his return from the disabled list, got three hits and one walk in five plate appearances.
“He comes right back and looks like he’s in mid-season,” Francona said. “That’s fortunate for us.”
According to Encarnacion, the Indians did not get bogged down with giving up a big lead, which is why they extended their winning streak to five games.
“We don’t really think about that,” Encarnacion said. “We don’t try to get stressed out or think about any of the pressure moments in the game. We just try to play and do our best every day and do what we can to help the team win.”