This time around, the Cleveland Indians started out their west-coast trip on a positive note.
After going just 1-5 against the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants out of the MLB All-Star Game break back in July, the Indians returned to the west coast with just two weeks left in the regular season and in need of a win to remain in the hunt for the best record in the American League.
Behind a standout start from pitcher Mike Clevinger and timely hitting, the Indians (94-57) earned a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels (76-74) at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California, Tuesday night.
Currently, the Indians are 49-27 away from Progressive Field this season and hold a 1.5-game lead over the Houston Astros in the race for the best record in the American League. The Indians trail only the Los Angeles Dodgers (96-55) for the best record in all of Major League Baseball.
After threatening to score in the first two innings, the Indians broke through with one run because of a two-out rally in the top of the fourth.
Second baseman Jose Ramirez began the inning with a walk from Angels starter Tyler Skaggs and moved into scoring position when designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion smacked an opposite-field single to right. Although Ramirez was erased on a double play off the bat of first baseman Carlos Santana, they were able to take the lead with a double high off the wall in center field from right fielder Jay Bruce.
After taking a first-pitch ball and a called strike, Bruce fouled off a fastball before belting another Skaggs fastball to the wall, which drove in Encarnacion for the game’s first run.
The Indians doubled their advantage when catcher Roberto Perez smashed a one-out solo home run over the wall in right-center field. Perez’s seventh home run of the season gave the Indians a 2-0 lead over the Angels in the top of the fifth inning.
However, the Angels got a run back in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With two outs, Perez threw down to second base to catch third baseman Luis Valbuena stealing, but he initiated a rundown, and that provided enough time for right fielder Kole Calhoun to hustle down the third-base line and score a run.
Calhoun started the inning with a single to right field and went to third base on a single from infielder Andrelton Simmons up the middle and into center. Valbuena drew a walk, but Simmons was erased on a pickoff from Clevinger.
The Indians got that one run back courtesy of an RBI single to right field from third baseman Yandy Diaz in the top of the sixth inning.
Diaz drove a 1-1 pitch from reliever Blake Webb into right field and brought around Bruce, who tripled to the wall in right off of Jose Alvarez with one out in the inning.
In the top of the ninth inning, outfielder Austin Jackson gave the Indians a 4-2 lead when his fourth single of the game, an opposite-field blooper into right, brought around reserve center fielder Greg Allen. Then, Encarnacion drove in another two runs when he fought his way through an at-bat against reliever Bud Norris before hitting an RBI single over the shortstop and into left field with two outs.
Allen (4 for 5), Bruce (3 for 4), Encarnacion (2 for 5) and Perez (2 for 4) each had multi-hit games for the Indians against the Angels.
Over six innings of work, Clevinger scattered three hits and two walks with one earned run against the Angels. Before giving way to the bullpen, Clevinger struck out six hitters and found the strike zone with 59 of his 92 pitches on the way to his 11th win of the season.
In relief, left-handed All-Star Andrew Miller did not allow a hit or walk and struck out Calhoun swinging to the end the seventh inning.
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