Tribe Spoils Angels’ Opener in Anaheim; Indians 6, Angels 0

The Cleveland Indians used a well-rounded attack on Monday night to continue an impressive run of dominance over the Los Angeles Angels with a six-hit 6-0 shutout in Anaheim.

The Indians (2-2) moved back to the .500 mark with a game that featured strong pitching, timely hitting, clutch base running, the long ball, and a little bit of the unexpected, ending the Angels’ (3-2) modest winning streak at three games. They extended their winning streak against the Angels to 12 straight, dating back to June 12, 2016.

A pitching matchup that was highlighted by ties to the opposing club, it was former Angels draft pick Mike Clevinger who shined brightest in his first start of the season against former Indians farmhand J.C. Ramirez. “Sunshine” was backed by six runs of offense from his Tribe teammates as the club coasted to an easy win at Angel Stadium.

The only run that the Indians would need came in most obscure fashion. With one out in the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion added to his home run total for the season, but not nearly in the way that he is accustomed to. After taking a strike from Ramirez, he lofted a long drive down the left field line. Justin Upton raced towards the wall as the ball smashed off of the yellow line running up the wall and ricocheted along the warning track back towards center field. Upton appeared confused by what was happening and was not quick to react to the ball in play as Encarnacion “raced” around the bases. Third base coach Mike Sarbaugh kept his left arm circling and the Tribe’s slugger charged towards home as the ball was still just making its way in from the outfield. The inside the park homer, the first for the Indians since August of 2016, put Cleveland up 1-0.

It would prove to be plenty for Clevinger, who was in good form. He struck out a batter in the first and second, giving up just a one-out single in the second to Andrelton Simmons before his teammates extended the lead in the third.

Bradley Zimmer used his speed to leg out a one-out infield single to start the scoring threat. With Francisco Lindor at the plate, he picked off second base on Martin Maldonado, one of the best behind the plate a season ago. Ball four to Lindor would skip away from Maldonado and Zimmer broke for third, reaching with a slide as the throw from the Angels catcher missed the mark and sailed into left, allowing Zimmer to scamper home with Cleveland’s second run of the night.

Alonso – Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Clevinger worked around a one-out double from Zack Cozart in the third before his offense put the game away for good in the fourth. The first pitch of the inning from Ramirez to Yonder Alonso was yanked over the wall in right for a leadoff home run, making it a 3-0 game. After a pop out to short by Encarnacion, Lonnie Chisenhall singled to right. Yan Gomes lined to right for the second out, but Tyler Naquin delivered his first home run since his own inside-the-parker in 2016. The two-out, two-run shot made it a 5-0 Cleveland advantage.

Clevinger and the Indians bullpen took over from there. He retired all three outs in the fourth on strikes, working around a pair of two-out singles, and allowed just a walk in the fifth. He turned the game over to the bullpen after retiring a batter in the sixth, and the combination of Tyler Olson, Nick Goody, Zach McAllister, and Matt Belisle kept the Angels off of the scoreboard the rest of the way.

The Indians would tack on one more run in the eight against relievers Luke Bard and Noe Ramirez. Alonso and Gomes walked against Bard and Brandon Guyer knocked in Alonso with a double to left to give the game its final 6-0 tally.

IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN CALI

Clevinger (1-0) was in a good groove on the mound for the Tribe throughout the night, spoiling the Angels’ home opener. The one concern was an elevated pitch count, which led to his exit after just five and one-third innings of work with 97 pitches thrown.

He followed the recipe laid out by manager Terry Francona and his staff, as Clevinger was able to work from ahead in the count the majority of the night – he threw 15 of his 22 first pitches on the day for strikes. He allowed four hits and two walks in his season debut, striking out five.

RAMIREZ ROUGHED UP

The Indians roughed up their former farmhand Ramirez, who lasted just four and two-thirds innings. He was charged with five runs, four of which were earned, on five hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts on the night. The home run was his undoing, as he gave up three on the night (just two that actually went over the fence, however).

RUN THE PARROT

Encarnacion’s home run trot did not get to make an appearance as he rounded the bases with a long ball for the third time this season as the Tribe’s slugger needed to hustle around the bases for the inside-the-park shot. Surprisingly, it was not the only inside-the-parker of his career, but strangely, it happened in similar fashion to his previous one.

The other inside-the-park homer by Encarnacion came on August 31, 2007, while playing for the Cincinnati Reds. Leading off the second inning, his shot off of future Indians pitcher and then member of the St. Louis Cardinals, Anthony Reyes, also went down the left field line. According to MLB.com, the 35-year-old is the oldest player to hit one since Derek Jeter did so at the age of 36. The last player 35 or older to hit one for the Indians organization was Charlie Jamieson in 1928.

TRIBE TRIVIA

The answer to the Tribe Trivia question is Leon Wagner.

“Daddy Wags” spent three seasons with the Angels, making a pair of All-Star teams in 1962 and 1963. He was traded to Cleveland following the 1963 season for pitcher Barry Latman and first baseman Joe Adcock, who were both one-time All-Stars during their careers. Wagner’s first season with the Indians would be his best, as he slugged 31 homers and drove in 100 runs. He remained productive for the next couple of years before his numbers tailed off and he was eventually dealt to the Chicago White Sox in 1968. He played through 1969 before moving into the movie business and he was a businessman throughout his playing days and after. He would end up homeless and was found dead at the age of 69 in 2004.

ON DECK

The two teams will resume action Tuesday in another night game from Angel Stadium. The Angels will go with their top starter, Garrett Richards (0-0, 7.20 ERA in 2018). The former first round pick had pitched in just six games in each of the last two seasons while dealing with injuries. The Indians will counter with right-hander Josh Tomlin (10-9, 4.98 ERA last season). The longest-tenured member of the Indians organization will make his first start of the year and hopes to extend his success from the end of the campaign, when he went 5-0 in nine second half starts with a 3.19 ERA.

First pitch is scheduled for 10:07 PM ET.

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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