The Indians tried to make up for all of the games that they failed to provide sufficient run support for Corey Kluber’s efforts on the mound in one night as Cleveland put up five runs in the first inning and did not stop on the way to a 14-4 drubbing of the struggling Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
Even a 31-minute rain delay in the fourth inning could not slow down Kluber nor the Tribe’s offense on a hot and sticky evening on the shores of Lake Erie as the Indians returned home and provided their fans with some early fireworks in advance of this weekend’s Rock ‘n Blast pyrotechnics display scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights.
The night did not start quite the way the Indians and Kluber might have hoped. After retiring the first two batters on five pitches, the dangerous Mike Trout stepped in and clobbered the second pitch of his at bat into the seats in right to give the Angels the early lead.
The lead lasted eight pitches.
After Kluber retired Albert Pujols on a one-pitch grounder to second to cap an eight-pitch inning, Angels starter Jhoulys Chacin took to the mound. After working the count full, Carlos Santana lined the seventh pitch of his lengthy AB into the right field stands to tie the game at 1-1 with his fifth leadoff homer of the season. One out later, Francisco Lindor walked, Mike Napoli singled, and Jose Ramirez walked to load the bases for Lonnie Chisenhall, who doubled to left and moved to third on the throw to the plate as all three runners scored to give Cleveland a 4-1 lead. Tyler Naquin pushed him across with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 5-1 as the Indians would send a total of nine men to the plate in the productive first inning.
“You know you have nine innings to go, but it’s nice to come back and play even and then we kind of jumped on them,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “If you want to be a good team, you got to have games where you spread it out.”
Cleveland got back to work in the second with one out. Kipnis walked and stole second, curiously without a slide despite the close play at second, before scoring on a single to center by Lindor. Napoli followed with a double to deep center on a ball misplayed by Trout that spelled the end of the night for the veteran Chacin.
Cliff Pennington homered with one down in the third to cut into the Cleveland lead at 7-2, but the Indians responded with another run in the bottom half. Abraham Almonte singled with one out against reliever Jose Alvarez and safely reached second on an error at first by Jefry Marte. Santana flied to left for the second out, but Kipnis singled to center to make it 8-2.
Brett Oberholtzer came on in the fourth, but gave up a double to Napoli to lead things off. He scored on a double to right one out later by Chisenhall and the Indians right fielder would score himself on a double by Almonte, who was thrown out trying to stretch it to three to end the inning.
Back-to-back singles by Marte and Jett Bandy provided the Angels with their first two non-homer hits of the night before Pennington grounded into a double play, scoring Marte to make it 10-3. But just as they had the previous two times that the Angels scored, the Indians got the runs right back as Roberto Perez doubled, Kipnis walked one out later, and Napoli drove a three-run homer to straightaway center field. Not to be outdone, Ramirez extended his hitting streak with a shot to the bleachers in center to make it a 14-3 game.
After another long late rain delay, the Angels added one in the ninth with the game well out of reach against left-hander Kyle Crockett. Los Angeles loaded the bases after a double from Pujols and a pair of walks. With one out, Bandy hit a sacrifice fly to score Pujols before Crockett got Pennington swinging to end it.
The Indians (64-48) started their eleven-game homestand off on the right note, improving to 32-20 on the season at Progressive Field. They picked up a half-game in the American League Central Division and now have a four-game lead over the Detroit Tigers, who were idle on Thursday. The Angels’ (49-65) losing skid reached seven straight games with the defeat. It is their longest losing streak since 2010.
KLUBER CRUISES IN AN EASY WIN
Kluber (12-8, 3.21 ERA) earned his second win of the season and of his career against the Angels with a solid and quality outing, even with the three runs allowed.
“Obviously, I made a mistake on that pitch to Trout,” said Kluber. “But to come back and answer, first batter, Carlos hit a homer to tie the game. We just poured it on after that.”
With a giant lead and with a near 45-minute delay between the rain and the Indians scoring prior to returning to the mound in the fifth inning, Kluber exited after six innings of work after just 87 pitches (55 for strikes). He allowed three runs (two on solo homers) on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
CHACIN CHASED EARLY
Making his third career start in Cleveland and his first against the Indians as a member of the Angels, the 28-year-old former member of the organization Chacin (3-8, 6.00) was clobbered by the Tribe early and often. He lasted just one and one-third innings, charged with seven runs on six hits with three walks and no strikeouts. He threw 56 pitches, 29 for strikes.
He worked at Triple-A Columbus with the Indians last season.
BULLPEN LITTLE BETTER
The Angels bullpen struggled to put the brakes on the runaway train that was the Indians’ offense. Alvarez worked an inning and two-thirds, giving up an unearned run on two hits while striking out one. Oberholtzer, recently added to the club on a waiver club from Philadelphia, was tagged for six runs on six hits with a walk and three strikeouts in an inning and two-thirds. Mike Morin finally stopped the scoring in the sixth inning and worked one and one-third innings with two Ks.
STREAKING AT THE PARTY AT NAPOLI’S
Napoli and Ramirez extended their hitting streaks with big nights on Thursday.
Napoli had a perfect night at the plate, going 4-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored, finishing just the elusive triple shy of the cycle. His first inning single pushed his streak to eleven straight. His homer was his 29th of the season, the most by an Indians right-handed hitter in 14 years.
Ramirez needed until the fifth inning to make his streak 15 games, chasing Napoli’s homer with a solo shot of his own to give the Indians their longest hitting streak since Kipnis had 20 straight last June.
Lindor extended his hitting streak to seven straight with his RBI-single in the second.
SANTANA EXITS AFTER FRIENDLY FIRE
Santana was struck in the head by a foul ball off of the bat of Lindor in the fifth inning. Turned away from the action with the Indians’ All-Star shortstop hitting right-handed, Lindor sharply pulled a changeup in the direction of the Cleveland dugout on the third base side of the field, striking the Indians’ DH who was sitting directly behind the protective fencing. Action on the field remained in a standstill for some time while all stood attending to Santana’s status in the dugout.
Santana would later officially leave the game when his next turn in the lineup came around. It was announced that he had suffered a contusion to the right side of the back of his head prior to the conclusion of the game.
His leadoff homer in the bottom of the first was the fifth time that he has led off the game for the Indians with a homer. He now has 25 home runs on the season.
MANSHIP SAILS TO CLEVELAND AS HOUSE RELOCATED TO COLUMBUS
The Indians announced prior to Thursday’s game that they had activated reliever Jeff Manship from the 15-day disabled list. Left-hander T.J. House was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus to make room on the 25-man roster for Manship, who had been out since July 27 with right wrist tendinitis. House did not make an appearance during this most recent call-up to the Majors.
Game two of the four-game set between the Tribe and Halos is scheduled for a 7:10 PM ET on Friday.
Carlos Carrasco (7-6, 3.17) will take his turn in the rotation and will look to replicate his last outing against Los Angeles in 2015 when he allowed just one run in nine innings of shutout ball in a no-decision. The Angels will send left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-0, 2.04), who will make his fourth start of the season and just his second start in his career against the Indians.
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