The Cleveland offense showed up for the top of the first inning, then disappeared as the Los Angeles Angels put on a home run hitting display against Josh Tomlin and the Tribe bullpen in a 13-2 bludgeoning of the Indians on Tuesday night.
Things were looking good after a half inning as the Indians got a big and needed hit from one of the smaller members of the lineup. After Francisco Lindor started the night with a five-pitch walk against Angels right-hander Garrett Richards, one out later Jose Ramirez notched his first hit of the season with a two-run home run to put the Indians up, 2-0.
It would be the end of any celebrating for the Indians, unless something special was planned postgame for birthday boy Jason Kipnis, who turned 31 on Tuesday. The Ramirez blast was the one and only hit for the club in nine innings of baseball.
Tomlin seemed to be in danger from the jump as even the first out of the game by Zack Cozart was a loud fly out to deep center. Mike Trout put the Angels on the board with his only hit of the night, a homer to right-center to make it 2-1. The hits kept coming, as Justin Upton singled to left, Albert Pujols followed with his own single, and Kole Calhoun tied the game with an RBI-single to center. Andrelton Simmons grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Pujols erased heading to third for the second out, but Tomlin’s lack of crisp command on the night led to a walk of Luis Valbuena to load the bases and a wild pitch with Shohei Ohtani at the plate allowed the go-ahead run to cross. Ohtani would make that pitch a moot one as he slammed his first career home run to right field to blow the game open, giving the Angels a 6-2 advantage. Tomlin retired the ninth man to bat in the inning, but he needed 43 pitches to get out of the mess.
Richards, now saved by his offense’s eruption at the plate, immediately set the Tribe down in order with three straight strikeouts. He would add two more in the third on the way to a big total for the night.
The Angels did not stop at six runs, but instead continued to run up the score with the long ball. After his teammates hit two in the first, Upton added his name to the list with a solo shot with two down in the second. Valbuena made it an 8-2 game the following inning with his own two-out solo homer to center off of Tomlin, the fourth blast that he surrendered on the night.
Los Angeles was finally retired in order in the fourth with reliever Dan Otero on for Tomlin. On to contain the damage as best as possible, he added to it in the fifth when the Halos drove in three more. Pujols singled to start the inning and one out later, Simmons drove him in with a two-bagger to left. A walk to Valbuena put two on for Ohtani, who struck out looking, but Rene Rivera joined the offensive fun with a two-run double to the wall in right-center, making it an 11-2 score. Rivera would add two more runs to his RBI total in the eighth, hitting a two-run homer off of Zach McAllister to give the game its final 13-2 score.
After the first, the Indians struggled to find the bases, against Richards or the Angels bullpen arms of Jim Johnson, Blake Parker, and Blake Wood. Ramirez walked with one out in the third, Tyler Naquin walked with two outs in the fourth, and Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch with one out in the sixth. In two of those three circumstances, the very next batter struck out.
Only Cozart would go hitless for the Angels on the night. Ramirez, who entered the game the only Indians’ regular without a hit, would be the only member of the team to record a hit.
With the loss, the Indians’ (2-3) 12-game winning streak over the Angels came to a close. They will once again face a series-clinching game in the finale, just as they did in their first series in Seattle with the Mariners over the weekend. The Angels (4-2) will look to win their second straight series of the year on Wednesday afternoon after claiming their first series of the year on the road in Oakland.
RICHARDS SETTLES IN
Richards appeared to be in danger of a bad night, but some extra rest in the dugout and a four-run lead when he returned to the mound in the top of the second may have been just what he needed to settle in. He lasted five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs on just one hit with four walks and nine strikeouts. He was not always at his crispest, throwing 58 of 102 pitches for strikes and with an elevated walk total, but he kept the Indians off balance and guessing. Seven of his strikeouts recorded were swinging.
TOUGH NIGHT FOR TOMLIN
There was no recovering from the horrific first inning for Tomlin, who allowed six runs in the blink of an eye.
“Not executing. Too much of the plate. Getting behind hitters,” shared Tomlin after the game about what he felt went wrong in his start. “I don’t know what it was. Mechanically, I wasn’t very sound.
“They didn’t miss the mistakes when I made them.”
He would pull himself together long enough to give manager Terry Francona three innings, but would leave charged with eight earned runs on eight hits with one walk and one strikeout. He will be looking up at a 24.00 ERA when he takes the mound the next time.
“He was never able to settle in,” said Francona after the game. “Uncharacteristically, he fell behind. When he missed, he either missed or he cut too much off the plate. In the second, it looked like he was starting to feel a little better, but at that point, he had thrown so many pitches…”
OHTANI’S BIG NIGHT OUT
Ohtani, making his second start as an offensive player in his brief Major League career, followed his 1-for-5 performance in his debut with the bat with his first career three-hit game in the Majors. He homered, added a pair of singles, scored twice, and drove in three runs to push his early season numbers to 4-for-9 (.444). The one time that he was retired by Indians pitching on the night was on strikes.
SHOEMAKER ON THE RACK
The Angels rotation, one that initially appeared to be crowded on paper, has thinned out a little more already, less than one full week into the regular season. On Tuesday, the team announced that right-handed pitcher Matt Shoemaker had been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right forearm strain.
In a corresponding move, pitcher Parker Bridwell was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake City. He will start for the Angels on Friday.
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD
The Indians and Angels will conclude their three-game series on Wednesday afternoon, with the Tribe sending right-hander Corey Kluber (0-1, 2.25 ERA) to the mound against Halos left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-0, 0.00).
Kluber is coming off of a strong performance against the Mariners in his first start of the year last Thursday. He threw a complete game and made a quality start, allowing just two runs on a first inning homer by Nelson Cruz while striking out eight in the loss. Skaggs started his year on the right foot (figuratively and literally), throwing six and one-third innings of scoreless baseball in his debut with three hits allowed and five strikeouts.
First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 4:07 PM ET.
Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images