In the first extra inning game for both clubs this season, a solo homer in the bottom of the 13th by Zack Cozart gave the Los Angeles Angels a 3-2 win and the series over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon.
It was a disappointing end to what looked like a promising afternoon for the Tribe, which enjoyed a hot start from Corey Kluber before the long ball hurt him again, just as was the case in his first start in the season opener in Seattle.
The Indians have made a habit out of wasting Kluber starts throughout his career and Wednesday was another such example as the Tribe got out to an early lead before the offense sputtered out and stalled altogether, scoring two runs or less in a game for the third time in six tries this season.
Cleveland jumped out to an early lead, just as they had done in the first two games of the series with the Angels. The Indians loaded the bases in the first inning against Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, getting a single from Francisco Lindor to start the game before a walk by Jason Kipnis. A fly to left by Jose Ramirez moved both runners up before Edwin Encarnacion walked to load the bases. Brandon Guyer singled to center to knock in Lindor, but Yonder Alonso grounded into 1-6-3 double play to squander the scoring opportunity.
Kluber was once again sharp from the start. He walked Justin Upton in the first, but otherwise breezed through the first four innings with just the one base runner allowed and three strikeouts.
In the fifth, the Indians manufactured a run with two outs. With Skaggs still on the mound, Lindor reached on an infield single, stole second, and scored on a single to center by Kipnis to make it a 2-0 game. Skaggs would be hooked by manager Mike Scioscia in favor of right-hander Jim Johnson, who got Ramirez to pop out to short to end the inning.
Everything changed in the home half of the fifth when the Angels got their first base runner with one out in the frame on a bunt single to third by Andrelton Simmons. A wild pitch from Kluber advanced him to second before former Indian Luis Valbuena was cut down swinging for the second out. Rookie phenom Shohei Ohtani stepped to the plate with a chance to keep the inning alive and did far more than that, driving a 1-1 pitch from Kluber deep to center and over the leaping attempt from Bradley Zimmer for a two-out, two-run homer that knotted the game at two.
With a brand new ball game at hand, the Indians bats could not come through against the Angels bullpen while Kluber kept the game even by allowing just a walk to Mike Trout in the sixth before he exited after seven innings in the books. Andrew Miller came on for the eighth and pitched into and out of trouble, hitting Martin Maldonado and walking Cozart before striking out trout and getting Upton to ground out to Lindor at short.
Cleveland had a chance to take the lead in the ninth, but missed out on one of their better scoring opportunities of the game. With one out against Keynan Middleton, Alonso singled to center. Lonnie Chisenhall pinch-hit and drew a walk with two outs, moving the go-ahead run into scoring position in pinch-runner Erik Gonzalez, but Zimmer struck out swinging to send the game to the bottom of the ninth. Cody Allen gave up a leadoff single to Albert Pujols before retiring the next three in order.
The Indians were silenced in bonus baseball, starting extra innings with a walk from Kipnis in the tenth off of Blake Wood, but otherwise doing no harm. The Angels threatened early, getting a leadoff single from Ohtani off of Allen to start the bottom of the tenth, but he was erased on a 1-6-3 double play. After Cleveland was set down in order in the eleventh, Nick Goody walked Trout to start the bottom half before getting the next three. Goody and Tyler Olson combined for a quieter 12th, after the Indians were retired on two strikeouts and a groundout in the top half by Luke Bard.
The Tribe had one last chance in them in the 13th, getting a one-out walk from Ramirez against Bard. He moved to second on a wild pitch, leading to an intentional walk of pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin with two down in the inning, but reliever Noe Ramirez came on in relief and struck out Gonzalez to strand two more base runners and bring the game to its final act.
Zach McAllister took over for Olson and struck out Rene Rivera to start the inning, but in a back and forth battle with Cozart, the former Cincinnati Reds shortstop delivered the game winner with a 380-foot shot on a 3-2 pitch (the eighth of his at bat) to give the Angels the walk-off victory.
With the loss, the Indians’ season opening west coast trip ended with a disappointing 2-4 mark with a pair of losses in Seattle and Anaheim. Despite the bad start, they are just a game and half behind Chicago and Minnesota in the AL Central. The Angels (5-2) sit a game in back of the first place Houston Astros in the AL West.
HOMER HURTS KLUBER AGAIN
Kluber’s season numbers are blemished only by a pair of long balls, which have accounted for all four runs that he has allowed in 15 innings of work. On Wednesday, he lasted seven innings and allowed three hits and two walks while striking out six. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when two of the three hits that he gave up on the day led to the Angels’ biggest scoring output of the game.
Kluber is now 0-1 on the year with a 2.40 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP, and 14 strikeouts in 15 innings.
SKAGGS GIVES A SHORT START
Skaggs, coming off a six and one-third inning performance in his first start of the year, was unable to finish five for the Halos in the series finale, but he limited the Indians to two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts along the way. It was an elevated pitch count that led to the early hook for the left-hander, who made 103 pitches on the way to retiring 14 batters.
Word out of the Indians clubhouse on Wednesday was that injured All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley would rejoin the club on Friday in time for the team’s home opener. A corresponding roster move would need to occur in order to activate Brantley from the 10-day disabled list.
ANOTHER ROSTER MOVE
The Angels announced prior to the game that right-hander Miguel Almonte had been acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Royals for future considerations and optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake. To make room for the reliever on the 40-man roster, catcher Juan Graterol was designated for assignment.
Almonte was designated for assignment by the Royals earlier this week when the club claimed Abraham Almonte from the Indians.
With their six-game roadie in the books, the Indians will take Thursday off before kicking off the home slate with a three-game set against the Kansas City Royals (1-3) beginning Friday afternoon from Progressive Field. The Royals have had bad weather follow them around the country, as they have already had a pair of games postponed in the first week of the season.
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