Tribe Continues West Coast Trip With Three in Anaheim
Bob Toth | On 02, Apr 2018
The Cleveland Indians will continue their early battles with the American League West this week as they complete the final stop of their first road trip of the year with a three-game series in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians (1-2) opened the 2018 schedule with three straight one-run games and came out on the wrong side in the bookend contests. Seattle claimed 2-1 and 5-4 wins on Thursday and Sunday, while Cleveland captured a 6-5 win on Saturday. The results on the field were mixed, as the numbers were all over for the pitching staff, while the offense had some bats in midseason form with others still trying to find their ways to the plate.
The Angels (3-1) will celebrate their home opener this week with the Indians in town. They are coming off of a good series in Oakland against their division rivals, the Athletics. After dropping the season opener 6-5, the Angels bounced back to take the remaining three games over the weekend, putting them atop the American League West Division. Los Angeles spent some time and money to restructure their roster in the offseason, adding a pair of new faces in the infield (one via trade, one through free agency), re-signing outfielder Justin Upton, and bringing in dual threat two-way player Shohei Ohtani from Japan.
With the first edition of Tribe Trivia, Did The Tribe Win Last Night asks:
In December of 1963, the Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians completed their first swap of Major Leaguers. Cleveland sent a pair of former All-Stars, pitcher Barry Latman and first baseman Joe Adcock, and received this 29-year-old left fielder, an All-Star during the 1962 and 1963 seasons, from the Angels. He will spend parts of five seasons with the Tribe, hitting as many as 31 homers in a season, but some financial woes would mar both his playing days and the rest of his life, leading to him becoming homeless in his final years before his death in 2004.
Who am I?
(check in the game recap for Monday night’s game against the Angels for the answer)
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
It will be a homecoming of sorts once again for the young right-hander Clevinger, who always can get a little more amped up when facing the Angels. The team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2011 traded him to Cleveland in 2014 for pitcher Vinnie Pestano just after the non-waivers deadline. He has pitched once at Angel Stadium in his career, allowing a run on three hits in a quality six innings of work with six strikeouts and two walks. He is 2-0 in three career starts against the Angels.
Ramirez spent a single season in the Indians organization in 2014, when he toiled at the Double-A and Triple-A levels as a reliever over the course of the season. The Angels made a bigger gamble on him, when they transitioned him back to the starting rotation, a position that he had not held since playing at Double-A in the Phillies organization in 2011. He rewarded the Halos with an 11-10 record with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 27 games (24 starts) over the year. He has faced the Indians five times in his career, including once in a starting role last season when he made a quality start against them in a loss. He worked six and two-thirds in that contest, allowing two runs on five hits, but he walked six while striking out four.
Tomlin will make his first start of the season as the final of the Tribe’s five starting pitchers to debut. He is looking to build off of his third career double-digit win season, but one in which his numbers began to trend the wrong direction overall. He made 26 starts and posted a 4.98 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and a .294 batting average against in 141 innings. Those averages were all above prior career norms. On the positive side, he ended the season extremely strong, going 5-0 in nine second half starts with a 3.19 ERA and an even 1.00 WHIP. He is 2-2 in his career against LA with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in six starts.
Richards, the former first round pick by the Angels in the 2009 draft out of the University of Oklahoma, is looking to return to a healthy place on the mound after missing almost all of the last two seasons. In both years, he was limited to just six starts, but put up strong numbers in those outings, averaging nearly a strikeout per inning (8.8). A pair of long balls hurt him in his first start of the season, as he allowed four runs on seven hits with three walks over five innings in the Angels’ season opening loss to the Oakland A’s. He has faced the Indians twice in his career, posting a win, a 4.40 ERA, and a 0.98 WHIP in 14 1/3 innings of work back in 2015.
Kluber will return to the mound fresh off of a complete game loss in Seattle in his season debut last Thursday. He worked eight innings in the defeat, allowing a pair of runs on a first inning home run by Nelson Cruz and nothing else, striking out eight, walking one, and allowing six hits in total along the way. It was an encouraging showing for the award-winning right-hander in his first start in his most recent Cy Young defense. He did not face the Angels last season, but won both of his starts against them during the 2016 season.
Skaggs will make his fourth career start against the Indians in the series finale on a getaway day Wednesday from Anaheim. He allowed a pair of runs on eight hits in a loss against them in 2017 and was tagged for seven runs on ten hits in five innings in another defeat during the 2016 season. He was in good control in his 2018 regular season debut, firing six and one-third scoreless innings of three-hit baseball with five strikeouts and no walks on the day.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Fox Sports West (all); ESPN 2 (4/2); ESPN (4/3); MLB Network (4/4 – out of market)
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; KLAA 830, KWKW 1330 (Anaheim)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Abraham Almonte (OF) – claimed off of waivers by Kansas City (4/2)
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list – recovery from right elbow surgery
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – recovery from right ankle surgery
Ryan Merritt (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Danny Salazar (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis
Ben Taylor (P) – designated for assignment (3/29)
Giovanny Urshela (IF) – 10-day disabled list (3/26) – right hamstring strain
Los Angeles (AL):
Andrew Heaney (P) – 10-day disabled list (3/29) – left elbow inflammation
Ian Kinsler (2B) – 10-day disabled list (3/31) – left adductor strain
Alex Meyer (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/21) – recovery from September 2017 right shoulder surgery
NEW GUY IN TOWN
Ohtani was one of the biggest stories of the offseason as the 23-year-old left Japan after spending the first five years of his career pitching in Hokkaido for the Nippon-Ham Fighters. Some have unfairly compared him to Babe Ruth. No pressure there at all.
Ohtani will be the first regular two-way player on the Major League landscape in quite some time. When healthy, the Angels rotation is crowded, but he is still expected to be part of what could eventually be a six-man staff. He will also spend some of his off days at designated hitter, keeping his potent bat in the lineup. He owns a career .286/.358/.500 slash in his five seasons in the Pacific League, hitting 70 doubles and 48 homers in his 403 career games.
On the mound, Ohtani was even more effective for the Fighters as he posted a 2.52 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP across 543 innings of 85 games. He won as many as 15 in 2015 with a tiny 0.91 WHIP and posted a 1.86 ERA the following season.
He made his Major League debut as a hitter on Thursday, hitting a single on the first pitch that he saw before going hitless in his final four at bats of the day. He took the mound for the first time on Sunday, earning the win in a quality start after allowing three runs on three hits (one home run) with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings.
It feels like sacrilege to speak on the Angels without acknowledging the best player in baseball, Mike Trout. The 26-year-old is beginning his eighth big league season this year and has been one of the best the game has seen in decades. He has shown power (career-high 41 homers in 2015; led AL in slugging in 2015 and 2017), speed (MLB-leading 49 stolen bases in 2012), a strong approach at the plate (MLB leading .441 OBP in 2016; AL leading .442 OBP in 2017), and a steady flow of highlight reel plays defensively in center field. After playing 40 games in his debut season in 2011 at the age of 19, Trout made his first of six straight All-Star teams in 2012. He is a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year, and a top-four finisher in the AL MVP voting in each of the last six years (including top-two finishes in 2012, 2013, and 2015, and hardware wins in 2014 and 2016).
Trout has done Trout things to start the season, hitting .300 through his first four games with three doubles, a homer, and four RBI.
NO SLOW START FOR EDWIN
Last season, Edwin Encarnacion needed 14 games to get his second home run of the year, taking him into the back half of April. This season, he needed just 12 plate appearances.
Encarnacion blasted a pair of homers to left field in the series finale with the Mariners on Sunday, doing all that he could individually to try to will the Indians to a win. He drove in three of the four runs on the day, hitting a solo homer to put Cleveland up 2-0 at the time and then a two-run homer in the eighth to bring the team back within a run at 5-4, which would prove to be the final score.
Encarnacion has been a notoriously slow starter in March/April throughout his career, but especially in the last four years, so three hits and a walk through his first three games with three RBI is an encouraging sign. He owns a career .244/.325/.438 slash in March and April and has just once hit above .300 (.322 in 2012) in 13 of those periods in his career. Last year, he hit .200 with a .343 on-base percentage and .353 slugging mark with one double, four homers, and nine RBI while he struck out 35 times in 106 plate appearances.
It is just one weekend series, but it is a positive worth noting.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIP!
Jason Kipnis will celebrate his 31st birthday on Tuesday in the middle game of the three-game series with the Angels.
The Tribe’s second baseman has gotten off to a good start in his eighth big league season, recording three hits (including a double) and a walk in 12 trips to the plate (.273/.333/.364). It came after a healthy and productive spring when he was among the team leaders in several key offensive categories. In 19 games of Cactus League play, he slashed .346/.424/.769 with two doubles, a triple, six homers, and 12 RBI.
Also worth noting for Kipnis is his pursuit of a personal milestone. He enters the series with the Angels with 889 career hits. If he can stay healthy for the better part of the year, he should be able to achieve the 1,000-hit plateau with ease.
PUT ME IN, COACH
After the first weekend of play, the Indians have used 21 of the 25 players on their season opening roster. Starting pitchers Clevinger and Tomlin, slated to start games one and two of the series, are two of the four yet to debut.
THE TRIBE’S COMING HOME, COMING HOME
Both clubs will take Thursday off before resuming action on Friday.
The Tribe will return home to Cleveland after the conclusion of the series on Wednesday to prepare for their own Opening Day game on Friday against the Kansas City Royals. First pitch of that contest is slated for 4:10 PM ET from Progressive Field.
The Angels will stay put in Anaheim and await the arrival of the A’s, who will face the Halos for the second straight week, this time in a three-game set.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images