Series Preview #42: Cleveland Indians (66-58) at Los Angeles Angels (55-68)
Bob Toth | On 19, Aug 2013
While some people have written off the 2013 Cleveland Indians as a faux playoff team, they still have 38 games remaining to prove to the baseball world otherwise.
The Indians (66-58), if you have not noticed, are in the middle of a roller coaster year. Fans jump on and off the bandwagon with reckless abandon. A three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels should do little to quell that activity by the impatient fan base. Cleveland is 7-8 on the road since the All-Star break, including 3-3 on this current trip.
The Angels (55-68) will host Cleveland for their only trip to Anaheim this season. The Indians have done well against the American League West as a whole (18-8), but the Angels bested them in Cleveland earlier in the month, taking two of three to wrap up a 1-6 homestand for the Indians.
The Indians enter the series seven games in back of Detroit and are a game and a half ahead of Kansas City. They are four and a half in back of Oakland for the second wild card spot. The Angels are effectively out of the playoff push, trailing in the West by 15.5 games and by 15 games in the wild card.
Jered Weaver (7-6, 3.49 ERA) will start the 10:05 PM ET series opener on Monday for Mike Scioscia’s Angels. He defeated the Indians two starts ago, allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings. Zach McAllister (5-7, 3.74) will counter for Terry Francona. He ended a six-game winless drought with a victory over Minnesota in his last appearance.
Left-hander C.J. Wilson (13-6, 3.40) will make Tuesday’s 10:05 PM ET first pitch. Like Weaver, he limited the Indians to two runs in a win his last time out. Danny Salazar (1-1, 4.08), who had his start pushed back a day, will make his fourth career start. He has allowed four home runs in his last two starts, including two in a loss to Minnesota in his last outing.
Jerome Williams (5-9, 4.90) and Justin Masterson (13-9, 3.59) will square off in Wednesday’s getaway day early start of 7:05 PM ET. Williams dominated the Indians for five and two-third innings in his last start before a single, homer, walk, and homer to four straight batters ended his day. Masterson could not get out of the fifth in that same start against Williams, allowing five runs on seven hits while walking four.
Each of the games will appear on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports West. Radio versions are available on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and on KLAA 830, the radio flagship station of the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians dropped two of three to the Oakland Athletics in the middle series of their three city road trip.
After clawing back to even the score at two in the top of the seventh, Masterson allowed an RBI-double in the bottom of the frame to give the Athletics a lead that they would not surrender, as Cleveland fell 3-2 on Friday. Carlos Santana and Nick Swisher delivered RBI-singles to right field to plate the Indians’ runs. Masterson worked seven and two-thirds innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, walked one, and struck out four.
Cleveland claimed a 7-1 victory on Saturday behind a one-hit effort from Ubaldo Jimenez. He was unable to escape the sixth inning due to an elevated pitch count from five walks and general wildness. Swisher put the Indians on the board in the first with a home run and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with an RBI-single later in the inning. He added a run scoring double in the sixth. Michael Bourn homered in the seventh and both Swisher and Jason Kipnis knocked in runs in the ninth.
Oakland matched Cleveland’s scoring efforts run for run and tacked on several extra to claim the series win behind a 7-3 win on Sunday afternoon. Scott Kazmir allowed five runs and ten hits in five innings. Ryan Raburn hit a solo homer and Kipnis and Santana drove in runs in the fifth to tie the game at three. Kazmir immediately allowed a pair of solo home runs in the bottom half of the inning, and two more runs scored to pad the Athletics’ lead on a Swisher error in the eighth.
Lonnie Chisenhall continues to struggle in the bottom of the Cleveland lineup. In the last 30 days, he is batting .151 with just one run batted in. All eight of his hits have been singles.
Michael Brantley has quietly heated up at the plate. Since the break, he is batting .302 with ten runs batted in. He is batting .301 in the last month.
Jason Giambi is approaching a career milestone. He is just four hits short of 2,000 in his lengthy Major League career.
The Angels dropped two of three to the Houston Astros over the weekend.
Los Angeles fell to Houston on Friday night, losing an 8-2 ball game. Houston’s Chris Carter drove in five runs, including a three-run home run in the ninth off of Joe Blanton, the MLB leader in home runs allowed. Williams lost his nineth decision, allowing three runs on five hits in four and one-third innings. He walked four while striking out five. Los Angeles had just one extra base hit.
Josh Hamilton sent the Angels home a winner in extra innings on Saturday, as Los Angeles defeated Houston by a 6-5 final. Hamilton’s walkoff shot in the tenth was his 18th home run of the season. Mark Trumbo tripled, homered, and drove in three. Erick Aybar had three hits in the game. The Angels’ bullpen pitched four scoreless innings after starter Garrett Richards allowed five runs in six innings.
A late home run broke a three all tie in the seventh, as Houston held on to take the series from Los Angeles, 7-5, on Sunday. The bullpen faltered for the Angels, allowing four runs, including Matt Dominguez’s three-run shot in the seventh. Hamilton and Trumbo each homered. Trumbo drove in three more runs.
Mike Trout has been the consistent cog in the Halos lineup, but left Sunday’s game in the sixth inning with right hamstring tightness. He has hit in eight straight games and has reached base successfully in 40 straight games, via hit, walk, or hit by pitch, since July 2nd. Since the All-Star break, he is batting .374 with six home runs and 19 RBI. While that reign of consistency has been impressive, he has walked an MLB-leading 30 times, contributing to a .530 on-base percentage. He is third in baseball on the season in walks (77), batting average (.333), on-base percentage (.430), and on-base plus slugging (1.004).
Trumbo is the team leader in both home runs (28) and RBI (81). Despite mashing like he did last year, he has otherwise struggled at the plate, batting just .222 in the second half and ranking fourth in the AL in that span in strikeouts with 38. He is fifth in the league for the season with 136.
The Angels rank near the bottom of the AL in many pitching categories this season. They are second-to-last to the Houston Astros in ERA (4.53), earned runs (556), WHIP (1.40), and bullpen runs allowed (205). They are the third worst in hits allowed (1152), batting average allowed (.267), starter’s batting average allowed (.276), and bullpen ERA (4.54). Their defense is the second-worst, again to the Astros, in fielding percentage (.981) and errors (87).
Cleveland will return home for a day off on Thursday before playing a single series at home against the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. Los Angeles will fly to Seattle for three with the Mariners, beginning Friday.
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images