Series Preview #23: Los Angeles Angels (37-31) at Cleveland Indians (35-35)
Bob Toth | On 16, Jun 2014
The last time that Cleveland and Los Angeles met up, the Angels were none too kind to the Indians on the West Coast. The Indians hope to return the favor as the Angels head to Cleveland this week for a four-game set at Progressive Field.
Cleveland (35-35) has been dynamite at home this season, helping to keep the team at the .500 mark while its frequently discussed problems on the road are addressed. They concluded a ten-game road trip through Texas, Kansas City, and Boston with a 5-5 record, nothing stellar, but a marked improvement from their road efforts heading into the trip.
The Indians dropped each of the first two games of the set in Fenway. They lost 5-2 on Thursday as the team could not find a way to score runs. They were shelled 10-3 on Friday, as Justin Masterson did not have it on the mound and was tagged for five runs in two-plus innings of work. The Tribe squeezed by with a 3-2 win on Saturday, ending their four-game losing streak, thanks to a pair of runs in the seventh inning highlighted by a bases loaded go-ahead walk by Carlos Santana. They won by the same score on Sunday, as a Nick Swisher solo home run in the top of the eleventh was the difference on the afternoon.
Los Angeles (37-31) took on the Atlanta Braves in interleague action over the weekend. The Braves won 4-3 on Friday night after a four-run first inning capped by a pair of home runs. The Angels won in 13 innings on Saturday, 11-6, after giving up four runs in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras. On Sunday Night Baseball, they dropped a 7-3 decision after giving up seven runs in the final three innings to the Braves to fall to 17-17 on the road this season.
Trevor Bauer (1-3, 4.24 ERA) will start Monday’s 7:05 PM ET series opener against Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver (7-5, 3.51). Bauer took the loss on Wednesday to Kansas City after allowing three runs in five and one-third innings and getting just three swinging strikes on the afternoon. Weaver is 6-0 in nine career starts at Progressive Field with a 1.64 ERA.
Josh Tomlin (4-3, 3.33) takes the mound on Tuesday night. He was tagged with a loss his last time out and has allowed a home run in seven of his eight appearances this season. Matt Shoemaker (3-1, 4.19) will throw for the Angels. The right-hander has limited right-handed hitters to a .148 batting average this season, but lefties are hitting .300 off of him. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Masterson (4-5, 5.05) will make Wednesday’s 7:05 PM ET first pitch. He is 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 13 games (ten starts) in his career against the Angels, but lost his first start against them this season. C.J. Wilson (7-6, 3.50) will counter for Mike Scioscia’s club. He is 4-2 in 26 career games against Cleveland with a 2.37 ERA.
T.J. House (0-1, 4.88) was listed as the scheduled starter for Cleveland in Thursday’s 12:05 PM ET getaway day start, but is no longer on the club’s 25-man roster. The club had made no formal announcement of a replacement starter for Thursday as of this preview, but it is presumed that Zach McAllister (3-4, 5.89) will return from the disabled list that afternoon. Garrett Richards (6-2, 2.87) is the scheduled starter for the Halos. It will be Richards’ first career start against the Indians.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports West will broadcast all four games of the series. ESPN 2 will also air Wednesday night’s contest. The Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Los Angeles Angels Radio Network affiliates will handle the radio calls of all four games in the series.
House was optioned back to Columbus on Monday afternoon. Reliever Mark Lowe was recalled to join an overworked bullpen of late.
McAllister remains on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain, but may be activated to start Thursday’s game.
Designated hitter Jason Giambi was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Friday’s game with left knee inflammation. Outfielder Nyjer Morgan remains on the 60-day DL with his sprained right knee.
Reliever Fernando Salas landed on the disabled list on Sunday for the Angels with right shoulder inflammation. Right-hander Dane De La Rosa was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to replace him in the bullpen.
Erick Aybar left Sunday’s game with a sore left hip in the bottom of the third inning.
HEATING UP IN THE SUMMER SUN
Michael Brantley was named the AL Player of the Week for his efforts last week. He has hit in seven straight games while hitting at a .538 clip. He is batting .393 for the month of June with just two hitless games. With his eleventh home run of the season on Sunday, he established a new career high for home runs after just 70 games played this year.
The bat of Santana has woken up since he returned from his concussion. He is hitting .343 with two doubles, two home runs, and eight RBI since rejoining the club. He has walked six times in that stretch. His 49 walks are second-best in the AL.
Lonnie Chisenhall has a team-high 17 RBI in the month, nearly double the nine of Jason Kipnis, the next highest mark on the club. He is batting .375 in June and .371 for the season, even after an 0-for-10 in Boston.
Mike Trout is hitting .366 during his active ten-game hitting streak and .357 for the month. He leads the team with three home runs and 12 RBI in that stretch. He is tied with Cleveland’s Michael Bourn for second in the AL with five triples on the season. He is in the top eight in the AL in both walks and strikeouts.
Shortstop Aybar is hitting .354 in June. He recently ended his seven-game hitting streak.
The Angels as a team have been hot with the glove all season, committing the second fewest errors in the AL. The Indians, meanwhile, continue to lead all of baseball.
The Indians are 296-320 against the Angels all-time. They have losing records both on the road (147-169) and on their home field (149-151).
Cleveland was outscored 19-8 in their three-game sweep at the hands of Los Angeles at the end of April. Masterson, Kluber, and McAllister all picked up losses in the series.
Outfielder Leon Wagner was a recognizable force for the expansion Los Angeles Angels and the Cleveland Indians throughout the 1960s. His post-playing career demise is much less discussed.
“Daddy Wags” signed with the New York Giants in 1954 but before his Major League playing career began, he served a stint in the Army. Upon his return, the Giants had moved to the West Coast to San Francisco and, at the age of 24, he made his debut there. A crowded outfield led to his trade to the St. Louis Cardinals and by 1961 he was in the outfield for the new Angels.
His career took off with the Angels, as he hit 28 home runs and drove in 79 while hitting .280 in his first season for the club. The next year, he was a first time American League All-Star and finished fourth in the MVP voting with a career-high 37 homers and 107 RBI to go with a .268 average. He hit .291 the next season with 26 blasts and 90 RBI while making his second consecutive All-Star appearance.
Wagner, also referred to as the “Good Humor Man” throughout his career, did not find his trade a joking matter. He was outspoken against Angels brass for the trade. He had multiple side businesses in the Los Angeles area, including a men’s clothing store (promoted by the phrase “Get your rags from Daddy Wags”), a music shop, and apartment units. His businesses were not doing well, however, as he had run into debt and had received a loan from the Angels that was paid back through salary deduction.
He played in Cleveland from 1964 to 1968, running his businesses from across the country. He hit 31 home runs and drove in 100 in his first season with the club, but his numbers steadily decreased. By 1968, he was a role player and pinch hitter and was dealt to the Chicago White Sox. He ended his career with 11 games with the Giants in 1969, returning to the team that started his professional career.
Wagner continued to run his clothing and music businesses in retirement, but life remained chaotic. In 1972, he was jumped at a friend’s apartment. He was beaten with a pistol and his wife was shot twice. He appeared in two movies, A Woman Under the Influence in 1974 and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings in 1976, but his acting career failed to take off, as did an attempt as a car salesman. By the 1980’s, he was surviving on his monthly pension check but was also battling drug and alcohol problems. Several former teammates reached out to him but could not help him turn his life around. He was unavailable for the Indians’ 2001 celebration of their top 100 players because he could not be found. He was homeless, living on the streets of Los Angeles.
He died sometime in early January 2004, in a small electrical shed he had converted into a home, of natural causes. He was 69.
The slumping Detroit Tigers will come to Cleveland this weekend for a three-game series. Los Angeles will return home for a three-game series against the rival Texas Rangers.
Photo: Jim Rogash/Getty Images