With the Browns’ Baker Mayfield in attendance, the Cleveland Indians put on a show as they hit three home runs, including two in a five-run fifth inning, as the Tribe defeated the Los Angeles Angels by a 7-2 final on Saturday night.
Mayfield incidentally may have sparked the Tribe’s fifth inning rally in a scoreless game. The star second-year quarterback for the NFL’s Browns was shown on the Progressive Field scoreboard, drinking a beer before shotgunning a second while flexing his Francisco Lindor jersey to the hometown crowd. Shortly thereafter, the Indians offense erupted, backing starting pitcher Adam Plutko to another win.
For four innings, the two teams were held scoreless. Plutko retired the first four before a second inning single by Kole Calhoun before working out of the inning. Luis Rengifo replicated Calhoun’s performance with a one-out single in third, but Plutko got David Fletcher to line to center before freezing Mike Trout on a payoff pitch changeup called for strike three. He dealt the Angels another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth when he got Shohei Ohtani to line to center before striking out Justin Upton and Calhoun.
Meanwhile, the Indians were quieted early by the Angels opener Felix Pena and Trevor Cahill. Pena retired the side in order in the first before Yasiel Puig reached on a throwing error by Matt Thaiss. Before he could make a mess on the base paths, he was picked off and Jose Ramirez followed with a groundout to first, but Pena had to be carried off of the field by Angels staff after being injured covering first base. Cahill came on in quick relief and got Franmil Reyes to line to left. Cahill took care of six straight before Carlos Santana walked with two down in the fourth, but Puig grounded out to short to leave him at first.
Plutko was back to work but was in a mess in the top of the fifth. Albert Pujols singled to right before a four-pitch walk by Thaiss. With their first big threat mounting, Plutko shut down the Angels by getting Kevan Smith to ground into a double play. Rengifo grounded out to leave Pujols at first.
After Mayfield revved up the crowd in between innings, the Indians came out and did damage to Cahill in the home half of the fifth. Ramirez flied to center to start the inning before Reyes got things going with a double to left for the first Tribe hit of the day. Two pitches later, Jason Kipnis drove a 1-0 sinker over the wall in right-center for his tenth homer of the season, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Kevin Plawecki was hit two pitches later, sending Justin Anderson to the center of the diamond to replace Cahill. Tyler Naquin greeted him with an eight-pitch at bat, sending the final slider into shallow right for a single to put two on for Lindor. He cleared the deck with a three-run blast to center, his 19th shot of the campaign, to break the game open at 5-0.
Plutko came back out for the sixth, but a pair of hits knocked him off of the mound after a leadoff single by Fletcher and a one-out double by Ohtani. Nick Goody came on for manager Terry Francona and allowed a sacrifice fly to Upton before retiring Calhoun on a fly to right.
The Indians threatened briefly in the bottom of the seventh after Plawecki opened the inning with a double off of Ty Buttrey, but despite moving up to third on a wild pitch with one out, he was left there as Buttrey got Lindor to fly to left before Cam Bedrosian entered and struck out Oscar Mercado.
The Angels struck through for another run in the eighth to cut into the Indians’ lead. Nick Wittgren retired the first two batters before Trout singled to center. Oliver Perez came on for the left-on-left matchup with Ohtani. He reached on an infield single to third and Trout moved over to third on a throwing error by Ramirez. Adam Cimber took over for Perez, but he allowed a single to center by Upton to make it a 5-2 game. Cimber recovered and struck out Calhoun on three straight pitches to strand a pair.
Bedrosian returned for the bottom of the eighth, but he gave up the run gained by the Angels and more. Santana drove a 1-1 slider to right-center for the Tribe’s third knock of the night and his 24th of the year to make it 6-2. Puig lined out before Ramirez doubled and moved to third on a throwing error by Upton. Reyes joined in the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center to extend the lead to 7-2.
Brad Hand, who was up with the score at three, came on in relief for the ninth in the non-save situation. After allowing a leadoff single to Pujols, he shut down the Angels from there, striking out Thaiss swinging and getting Smith to line to third before catching Rengifo looking to end the ball game.
The Indians moved to 65-45 on the season with the victory, keeping pace with the victorious Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. Cleveland trails Minnesota by three games in the division. The Angels fell back to the .500 mark at 56-56.
Plutko worked five and one-third innings of one-run baseball to move to 4-2 on the season. He allowed five hits and walked one while striking out four before turning the game over to the bullpen. Five relievers combined to work three and two-thirds innings, giving up four hits but just one run while striking out four.
Pena threw an inning and two-thirds of hitless baseball before succumbing to a right knee injury sustained covering first base in the second. There was no update on his status by Angels manager Brad Ausmus after the game. Three of the four relievers that followed him to the mound were unable to keep the Indians from touching the plate. Cahill took the loss to fall to 3-7 after giving up three runs on two hits with a walk in two and two-thirds innings. Anderson allowed two runs on two hits while retiring just two batters and Bedrosian gave up two more (one earned) on two hits in one and one-third.
“I’m not overly optimistic, based on his reaction,” Ausmus said of his opener. “It didn’t look out of the ordinary, other than him going down right after he hit the top of the bag.”
Lindor went 1-for-4 on the day but led the Tribe with three runs batted in. Santana reached three times in four trips to the plate with his home run and a pair of walks.
“We all appreciate him,” said Lindor of Mayfield’s efforts and support of his fellow Clevelanders. “We’re all a fan of him… What he did with the beer was pretty impressive.”
Mayfield met with Indians players after the game and several photos circulated via their respective social media accounts. Lindor acknowledged that he wants to get a Mayfield jersey after seeing Mayfield donning his from his suite during the game.
Ohtani (single and a double) and Pujols (two singles) each reached base twice for the Angels, while Upton drove in both Halos runs with a sacrifice fly and a single. Los Angeles went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position while stranding seven.
The Angels played without the services of shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who was sidelined with a sore left foot.
Prior to the game, starter Corey Kluber worked a 35-pitch, two-inning simulated game against hitters from the Akron RuuberDucks. He is believed to be inching closer to making rehab starts.
Cleveland will go for a three-game sweep of the Halos on Sunday afternoon in the series finale with Los Angeles. All-Star Shane Bieber (10-4, 3.40 ERA) will look to get back into the win column after a tough defeat last Tuesday against the Houston Astros. Jaime Barria (4-4, 6.28), a 23-year-old right-hander, will make his sixth start and eleventh appearance of the season for the Angels.
Play resumes from Progressive Field at 1:10 PM ET on Sunday.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images