Rain, Haren Stall Tribe Offense; Angels 2, Indians 1
By Mike Brandyberry
After a rain delay that was just short of two and a half hours, the Angels’ Dan Haren made quick work of the Tribe Saturday afternoon. Haren carved up Tribe hitters and stopped the Angel five game losing streak, defeating the Indians 2-1.
Haren did most of the work, pitching eight innings, only allowing four hits and striking out seven on 119 pitches. His effort kept the soft Angel bullpen hidden from the Indian offense.
“It was a very well pitched game by both sides,” Indians manager Manny Acta said after the game. “I thought Gomez threw his slider very well. He gave a good outing and we’ve had problems with Haren for a while now.”
Just like Friday, the Angels scored in the top of the first inning when Jeanmar Gomez walked Howie Kendrick and gave up a flare base hit to Albert Pujols to set runners on the corners. Kendrys Morales followed with a hard hit ground ball that caromed off both Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis’ glove before scooting into the outfield. The base hit was enough to score Kendrick and give the Halos an early 1-0 lead.
It looked like the Tribe might answer back in the bottom half of the first when Michael Brantley laced a double down the line, past a diving Mike Trout, but Haren was able to settle down and retire the next three hitters without letting Brantley cross the plate. He would retire the next nine Indian hitters.
In similar fashion to Friday evening’s contest Torii Hunter hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to extend the Angel lead to 2-0. Hunter’s home run was his 28th of his career against Indians’ pitching. His 30 home runs against the Kansas City Royals are the only team who trails the Tribe’s mark.
“It was a back door sinker and he’s very good,” Gomez said of the ball Hunter hit 393-feet to right field. Gomez got Hunter on a two-seam fastball in the first at bat.
However, the Tribe broke the mold when they answered back in the fourth inning. Kipnis lead off the inning with a base hit and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a walk to set the table with no one out. Travis Hafner lined out to left field and Carlos Santana struck out before Jack Hannahan cracked a two-out base hit to right field scoring Kipnis and cutting the Angel lead to 2-1.
A passed ball would move Cabrera and Hannahan to second and third with two outs, but Shelley Duncan struck out looking to end the inning. Duncan is currently five for his last 31 at bats, with 16 strikeouts.
Gomez left the game after six innings, allowing five hits, two runs, two walks and seven strikeouts. The seven strikeouts were a career best. With the exception of the home run to Hunter, Gomez matched Haren pitch for pitch.
The Indians knocked on the door in the seventh, but couldn’t break through when Duncan singled to left field and Kotchman walked. However, Aaron Cunningham swung at the first pitch to fly out to left field and end the inning. With Shin-Soo Choo unavailable for the game, pinch hitting for Cunningham was probably not an option since Jason Donald was the only outfield option on the bench.
After Haren’s eight masterful innings, newly named closer Scott Downs entered the game. He worked a three up, three down inning and the Angel skid was snapped. Downs earned his first save of the season.
“He changes speeds well and keeps our guys off balance,” Acta said of Haren. “He has a good cutter that is tough for lefties to get into play fair.”
Tomorrow the Indians will try to win the rubber match when Derek Lowe (3-1, 3.00 ERA) takes on Ervin Santana (0-4, 7.23 ERA). The last time Santana pitched at Progressive Field, he no-hit the Tribe. The Indians will try to muster some more offense Sunday at 1:05.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images