The Cleveland Indians are working on a positive finish to a roller-coaster August.
Abraham Almonte hit his first career grand slam and Josh Tomlin worked into the eighth inning, leading the Indians to a 9-2 win over the slumping Los Angeles Angels on Sunday.
Cleveland (63-66) has won five in a row to stay in the race for the second AL wild card. It is quite a turnaround from an extended period of poor play that dropped the Indians to a season-worst 10 games under .500 earlier this month.
“There’s no getting around it, it was tough,” manager Terry Francona said. “We were spinning our wheels, however you want to say it. We were frustrated. Things weren’t going the way we wanted to.”
Carlos Santana drove in three runs for the Indians, who trailed Texas by five games for the second AL wild card coming into the day.
Michael Brantley, who is hitting .424 (39 for 92) with 17 RBI in August, thinks a one-day-at-a-time approach is the reason the Indians are playing well.
“You can’t look too far ahead,” he said. “You start putting pressure on yourself and not playing good baseball. You have to take one game for what it is, good, bad or indifferent.”
The Angels (65-65) have dropped eight of 10 to fall back to .500 for the first time since June 26. Coming into the day, Los Angeles was 2 1/2 games behind the Rangers.
Almonte’s fifth-inning homer off Jered Weaver broke open a close game and sent Cleveland to its 14th win in 21 games.
Weaver (6-10) didn’t get much help from his defense. Center fielder Mike Trout and right fielder Kole Calhoun lost catchable fly balls in the sun, leading to five Cleveland runs.
“We’ll take it,” Francona said. “Sometimes when you get a break and you take advantage of it, Abe had a huge hit.”
Trout, batting .194 in August going into the game, was 4 for 4 and had an RBI single in the eighth.
Tomlin (3-1) was charged with two runs in seven-plus innings. The right-hander was making his fourth start since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 15 after having shoulder surgery in March.
Cleveland blew open Saturday’s game on Yan Gomes‘ eighth-inning grand slam. The Indians followed a similar script Sunday, with help from shoddy defense for the Angels.
Cleveland had a 2-0 lead when Brantley singled with one out in the fifth. Santana lifted what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right, but Calhoun lost sight of it. The ball fell for a double and Brantley took third.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia went to the mound to talk to Weaver. Lonnie Chisenhall was walked intentionally before Almonte delivered with a drive to right-center.
“One too many heaters in, or if you still call it a fastball, I don’t know,” Weaver said of the pitch. “Whatever you guys want to call it.”
Brantley’s RBI double gave Cleveland the lead in the first. Brantley scored when Trout lost Santana’s fly ball near the warning track.
Weaver was charged with eight runs in six innings.
Grant Green homered for Los Angeles on the first pitch of the sixth.
W: Josh Tomlin (3-1)
L: Jered Weaver (6-10)
HR: Almonte (3, 5th inning off Weaver 3 on, 2 Out); Green (1, 6th inning off Tomlin 0 on, 0 Out).
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Very hard to resist the allure of a late August five game winning streak.
The next ten, especially agAinst division rivals, will tell the tale.
Detroit appears to be in complete free fall, twins not so much