Series Preview #39: Los Angeles Angels (51-62) at Cleveland Indians (62-53)
Bob Toth | On 09, Aug 2013
In one of the biggest series in the last half dozen years for the Cleveland Indians, they squandered a huge opportunity to cut the advantage of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division race.
Instead, the Indians (62-53) missed four separate chances to gain ground and may have played themselves right out of consideration in the division. They remain within reach of the wild card, at three games back, but now trail the Tigers by seven. As they face off with the Los Angeles Angels for the first time this season this weekend at Progressive Field, they will look to improve upon their 16-4 record against the American League West this season.
The Angels (51-62) come to town reeling after dropping four straight games this week at home. Each of the last three came to their AL West rivals, the Texas Rangers. The four-game skid helped to propel Texas back into a tie for first place in the division, while the Angels fell 13 games off the pace in both the division and wild card races.
Scott Kazmir (7-4, 3.89 ERA) will be the first to the mound to open the series with the Angels on Friday night at 7:05 PM ET. He has not lost a decision since June 10th against Texas. Jered Weaver (6-5, 2.90) will oppose. He has allowed just four earned runs over his last four starts, winning three with one no decision.
Ubaldo Jimenez (8-6, 4.18) will start on Saturday night at 7:05 PM ET after twice having his turn in the rotation pushed back. Jimenez was affected by errors behind him in the field his last time out, just one start removed from pitching eight innings of scoreless, two-hit ball against Texas. Lefty C.J. Wilson (11-6, 3.49) will take the mound for Mike Scioscia’s squad. He has a 4.73 ERA on the road, compared to a 2.35 at home.
Terry Francona will start Justin Masterson (13-8, 3.46) in Sunday afternoon’s 1:05 PM ET finale. He lost for the first time in four starts after a devastating five-run fifth inning against Detroit in his last start. Jerome Williams (5-8, 4.77) will counter for Los Angeles. He has not earned a win in his last nine starts and ten appearances overall.
Each of the games in the series will be shown on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports West. Radio options are available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Los Angeles Angels Radio Network.
The Angels come to Cleveland after dropping four straight.
Los Angeles gave up five runs in the middle innings after taking a 1-0 lead in the first and Texas held on for victory on Monday, 5-2. Williams earned his eighth loss after allowing five earned runs on six hits. Second baseman Howie Kendrick left the game with a hyperextended left knee. The Angels bullpen allowed just one hit in the final three and two-thirds innings.
The Angels got to Yu Darvish for three runs and eight hits in seven innings, but the Los Angeles bullpen could not hold on, allowing a run in the eight and four more in the ninth to rip the game wide open, 8-3. Texas stole six bases off of catcher Chris Iannetta. They lead the league in stolen bases allowed with 101.
Texas completed the sweep with a 10-3 victory on Wednesday. Alexi Ogando limited the Angels to two runs in five innings. Tommy Hanson allowed five runs on seven hits but was unable to get out of the fifth. Mike Trout was the only Angels player with more than one hit in the game and he drove in two of their three runs.
Trout, who just celebrated his 22nd birthday, has been on fire since the All-Star break. He is batting .394 in the second half with five home runs and eleven RBI. He has drawn an MLB-best 20 walks in 20 games, giving him a league-high .544 on-base percentage amongst all players to appear in at least six second half games. He is the third-leading hitter in all of baseball on the season with a .333 average.
First baseman Albert Pujols may miss the remainder of the season with a partial tear of the left plantar fascia that has him in a walking boot. His batting average had remained at a career-low throughout the season (.258), but he had still hit 17 home runs and driven in 64.
The Indians saw their eleven-game home winning streak end as a new and untimely losing streak replaced it.
Corey Kluber got the better of Anibal Sanchez in the series opener on Monday, but all four batters to face Chris Perez in the top of the ninth scored, blowing the save and giving the Tigers a 4-2 come-from-behind victory. Sanchez allowed two runs and struck out eleven. Kluber allowed six hits in seven and one-third innings and struck out six. Perez allowed four runs on three hits and a walk, including the game-changing three-run home run to Alex Avila.
One bad inning from Masterson that the Indians could not overcome spoiled an otherwise solid start, as Cleveland fell to Detroit 5-1 on Tuesday. After receiving an early one run lead, Masterson allowed five runs in the fifth on a fielder’s choice, an RBI double, and the dagger three-run home run by Don Kelly. Masterson allowed seven hits and struck out six in seven innings of work.
The Indians were on the receiving end of another heartbreaking loss on Wednesday in a back-and-forth ball game that took 14 innings to complete, with Detroit victorious by a 6-5 final. Cleveland took the lead with two in the third, reclaimed it with a run in the seventh, tied it again with a run in the eighth, and left the tying run on third base in the 14th. Yan Gomes homered, Michael Bourn had an RBI double, and Nick Swisher had two RBI-doubles of his own. Danny Salazar struck out ten in his second Major League start and reached 100 miles per hour on the radar guns at Progressive Field.
Zach McAllister lost the strike zone in the third inning and the Tigers never looked back, scoring six in the inning on the way to a 10-3 stomping of the Indians. Max Scherzer claimed his 17th win of the season with seven innings of work. McAllister was unable to complete the third inning and allowed six runs (five earned) with four hits and four walks. Preston Guilmet allowed another four in relief. Asdrubal Cabrera had a pair of RBI-doubles.
Utility man Ryan Raburn made his professional debut on the mound in the ninth inning of the finale Thursday. He pitched an inning of scoreless relief and struck out a batter. He signed a two-year, $4.85 million contract extension during the week with the Indians.
Guilmet, who rejoined the Indians on Thursday to take the roster spot of Mark Reynolds, who was designated for assignment, was sent back to Columbus following his effort. Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, 0-4 in six starts for Cleveland with a 9.10 ERA, has been recalled and will pitch in a relief role for the team.
Kluber was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game with a sprained long finger on his right hand. He is expected to miss four to six weeks, which could keep him sidelined through the rest of the regular season.
The Indians will begin a nine-game road trip after the completion of their series with the Angels. They will head to Minnesota for three, then Oakland and Los Angeles for three a piece. The Angels will head to New York for four games with the Yankees before returning home to take on Houston.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images