Zimmer Delivers Again as Tribe Wins Sixth Straight; Indians 10, Angels 4
Bob Toth | On 26, Jul 2017
It was another one of those games in which the final score did not accurately reflect much of the day’s events. Cleveland broke a 2-2 tie on a seventh inning double by rookie Bradley Zimmer and piled on seven more runs in the eighth as the Indians defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 10-4, on Wednesday night from Progressive Field.
With another win, the Indians (54-45) improved to 6-0 in their current seven-game homestand and are now a season-high nine games above the .500 mark. They have won nine straight games at home against the Angels and are one win short of sweeping each of the last three seasons’ contests in Cleveland. They maintained a game and a half lead on the victorious Kansas City Royals, who extended their own winning streak to eight straight.
The Indians jumped out in front on the second pitch of the home half of the first when Zimmer took Ricky Nolasco deep to start Cleveland’s evening. The lead would be short lived as the Angels responded against Carlos Carrasco in the second. Andrelton Simmons reached for the sixth straight plate appearance in the series when he was hit by a pitch and he was able to score from first on a double by Luis Valbuena. More on the latter later.
Both teams would strand a pair in the third and the Angels would have two reach again in the fourth, but would be unable to produce against Carrasco. The Indians, however, were able to string together a solid inning against Nolasco with four men reaching, but just one crossed home plate successfully. Edwin Encarnacion started the frame with a walk and moved to second on an infield single by Jose Ramirez. Carlos Santana singled to right, but Kole Calhoun threw Encarnacion out at the plate in a play that withstood a challenge by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona. Austin Jackson struck out looking on a tough call before Yan Gomes dropped in a single to right, scoring Ramirez from second on the two-out RBI to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.
Carrasco had to throw a lot of pitches in the early innings, but an eleven-pitch fifth and a five-pitch sixth allowed him to make it further into the late innings, aiding a Tribe bullpen thinned by a six-man rotation and the eleven-inning victory the night before. The short innings extended his consecutive batters retired streak in the game to seven straight, but Valbuena would end that with one swing to start the seventh. His solo shot to the bullpen in center tied the game at two.
The Tribe’s number two starter gave up a single to Ben Revere, who was sacrificed to second by Martin Maldonado before Bryan Shaw entered in relief and got out of the jam, getting Kaleb Cowart to ground to first (moving Revere 90 feet from home) before Yunel Escobar grounded to third to end the threat.
Zimmer would come up big for Cleveland again in the seventh. Jackson singled to left before a pair of liners left the inning hanging in the balance. In stepped the rookie center fielder, who worked the count full before doubling to center, scoring Jackson and knocking Nolasco out of the game as the Indians reclaimed the lead at 3-2. Zimmer would be thrown out at the plate on a single by Francisco Lindor to end the inning, but Cleveland was back on top.
Shaw started the eighth, giving up a leadoff single to Mike Trout before a liner by Albert Pujols for the first out. Andrew Miller relieved and struck out Calhoun looking for the second out. Simmons reached again with a grounder to Ramirez to keep the inning alive and C.J. Cron pinch-hit for the left-handed hitting Valbuena, despite the latter’s success in the series against his former team. Cron grounded out to leave a pair.
The Indians blew down the doors in the bottom of the eighth, sending 12 men to the plate in another monster inning this week against the Angels. Cam Bedrosian took over on the mound but would not finish the inning as he quickly pitched into trouble. Michael Brantley singled to right and Encarnacion walked before Ramirez struck out looking on three pitches for the first out. Santana singled to right to score Brantley to make it 4-2. Jackson sent the next pitch into center to score pinch-runner Brandon Guyer to make it a three-run lead. A third straight RBI-hit sent Bedrosian to the showers as a double by Gomes made it 6-2 and left two in scoring position. Brooks Pounders, just recalled prior to the game, came on in relief but provided little of it, giving up the Indians’ fourth straight run-producing hit as Erik Gonzalez plated a pair with a single to center. Zimmer grounded into a force at second before Lindor walked, putting two on as the lineup began its second trip through. Brantley singled to center to score Zimmer and Guyer, who had entered as a pinch-runner, singled to left on the first pitch that he saw to score Lindor with the seventh run of the inning, putting Cleveland on top big, 10-2. Ramirez was retired on a grounder to first to end the onslaught.
Dan Otero pitched the ninth and had an unusually tough time on the mound, giving up two runs on four hits in the frame. Cliff Pennington provided a pinch-hit leadoff double and came in to score as a second pinch-hitter, Nick Franklin, doubled himself. A single by Cowart put runners on the corners before Escobar grounded into a double play, scoring the Angels’ fourth run of the game. Trout reached on a single, but Pujols struck out swinging to end the game.
Shaw took home the win with an inning of relief work scattered over two frames. Miller earned his 21st hold before the Indians’ offense exploded in the eighth.
Carrasco took the no-decision and gave the Indians the quality outing the pitching staff sorely needed after every bullpen arm appeared the night before. He worked six and one-third innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He did not walk a man and struck out five. He pitched from behind at times, had several big pitch count innings, and did not have his swing-and-miss stuff on the night, but he kept the game under control.
Nolasco was dealt his 12th loss of the season, second-most in the American League this season. He lasted six and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts in his quality start. He threw 119 pitches, 70 for strikes, and was first pitch strike to just eleven of the 28 batters that he faced.
Prior to the game, the Indians announced that right-hander Shawn Armstrong had been recalled from Triple-A Columbus to provide some bullpen relief after the extra inning game on Tuesday night. Outfielder Abraham Almonte drew the short straw as a player with options remaining and was sent to the Clippers.
The story to the game may again have revolved around timely hitting. The Angels were just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. One of the two hits came in the ninth with the club down eight runs at the time. The Halos would leave eight men stranded on the bases. The Indians, meanwhile, were 9-for-14 with runners on second or third base. Seven of the eight Tribe batters to step to the plate in such a circumstance registered at least one hit (with Gomes and Santana getting two each). Cleveland left seven.
The Indians will look to make it a perfect homestand on Thursday afternoon in the finale from Progressive Field. Needing a big start to fend off the hard-charging Royals and with his starting rotation spot potentially up for grabs, Trevor Bauer (8-8, 5.58 ERA) will take the mound for the Tribe. He earned the win his last time out against Toronto, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks in five innings of work. J.C. Ramirez (9-8, 4.38), a right-hander who pitched for the Indians organization in 2014 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, will start for the Angels. It will be his fifth career appearance against the Indians and first start.
First pitch is scheduled for 12:10 PM ET from downtown Cleveland.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images