Plesac Fires First Career Shutout in Four-Hitter Over Halos; Indians 8, Angels 0
Bob Toth | On 11, Sep 2019
Zach Plesac quieted any concerns that he was running out of gas late in the season as he fired a complete game four-hit shutout in an 8-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
The Indians supplied Plesac with a half dozen runs of support over the first three innings, but the rookie right-hander needed just one of those runs to shut down the Angels in the middle game of three for the Indians in Anaheim. Making his 19th career start, Plesac went the distance to move the Indians to 85-61 on the year, five games in back of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
Plesac faced more than the minimum in just four different innings, which included a mini threat in the first by the Angels after starter Jose Suarez got through the first.
With one out, Los Angeles’ David Fletcher singled to left for the first Angels hit of the day. Shohei Ohtani flied to left for the second out before Justin Upton drew a seven-pitch walk. Kole Calhoun left a pair with a strikeout to end the inning.
Yasiel Puig stepped into the box for the second time for his first official at bat of the day to start the second (after being at the plate when Oscar Mercado was thrown out trying to advance on a two-out ball in the dirt in the first), but he was plunked on the backside by a fastball from Suarez. Jordan Luplow stepped in for the favorable matchup and, after falling behind in the count 0-2, clobbered his eleventh homer of 12 on the year off of a southpaw to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Franmil Reyes followed with a walk before being eliminated on an inning ending double play by Roberto Perez two batters later.
Plesac retired the side in order in the second before the Tribe added on in the third. Yu Chang singled to start the inning, but he was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Francisco Lindor. Mercado popped out for the second out before Suarez lost the strike zone, plunking both Carlos Santana and Puig to load the bases (with the latter hit by pitch drawing some conversation between Suarez and Puig). Luplow plated his third run of the game with a bases loaded walk to make it a 3-0 game, and Reyes doubled the next pitch down the left field line to clear the bases to double the Cleveland lead to 6-0. Jason Kipnis flied to left to end the four-run frame.
Plesac retired seven in a row before walking Ohtani to start the fourth. Upton took the base runner out of the equation on a grounder to Lindor that he turned into a double play.
The Indians threatened with a pair of one-out walks by Santana and Puig in the fifth against Jose Rodriguez, but did not score. Plesac followed with another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and gave up his second hit of the game on a two-out single by Fletcher in the sixth, but Ohtani fouled out to leave the runner at first.
The Indians added on to their big lead in the seventh against Trevor Cahill. The first pitch of the night from the veteran right-hander was slugged to right-center by Lindor for his 30th home run of the season, giving Cleveland a 7-0 lead. Mercado and Santana followed with singles before a fielder’s choice by Puig forced out Santana at second. Luplow became the fourth Indians hit by pitch victim on the night as he loaded the bases and a sacrifice fly deep to center by Reyes plated another run to make it 8-0. Kipnis left a pair with an inning-ending fly to left.
Los Angeles got its first runner in scoring position since the first inning when Calhoun reached on a one-out double after the stretch against Plesac, but the Indians starter once again kept the Angels off of the board, getting Andrelton Simmons to foul to first before Jared Walsh grounded to second to leave the runner at second.
Plesac pitched a perfect eighth and came back out for the ninth in search of his first career shutout while at the 96 pitch mark. He retired Fletcher on a grounder to short and struck out Justin Bour for his seventh straight batter retired. Taylor Ward kept the game alive with the fourth Angels hit of the night, a double over Greg Allen in left, but Plesac ended his dominant outing the right way, striking out Matt Thaiss swinging for his fifth strikeout and his eighth win of the season.
Despite the big win, the Indians gained no ground in their playoff pursuits. Minnesota (leading in the AL Central), Tampa Bay, and Oakland (both ahead of the Indians in the AL Wild Card race) were all victorious in their games earlier in the day on Tuesday.
Plesac became the fourth rookie to throw a complete game this season and the first to do so for the Indians since Jeremy Sowers threw back-to-back complete game shutouts in July of 2006. In going the distance, Plesac allowed four hits and a pair of walks while striking out five to move to 8-6 on the year. The win ended his modest two-game losing streak (a career-long) and his nine innings of work ousted his former career long of seven (done five different times this season).
“Obviously he was pretty good,” said Indians manager Terry Francona of Plesac. “His breaking ball was better. I think he was able to slow down in his delivery.”
Suarez took the loss for the Angels, falling to 2-6. He worked three innings, allowing six runs on four hits with two walks and one strikeout on 60 pitches. Cahill was tagged for two runs after three hitless and scoreless innings of relief from Rodriguez.
Lindor’s 30-homer season marked his third straight season reaching that plateau, tying Manny Ramirez for the third-most consecutive 30-homer seasons in Indians history (Jim Thome is the all-time club leader with seven such seasons, while Albert Belle is second with five). Lindor was 2-for-5 on the night, adding his 37th double of the campaign, before being lifted for pinch-runner Ryan Flaherty.
Mercado had a pair of hits and Luplow added two walks to his home run. Reyes drove in four runs, giving him 28 with the Tribe since coming over to the club from San Diego.
Fletcher accounted for two of the Angels’ four hits on the night.
The Indians will go for the sweep from “the Big A” on Wednesday afternoon in a late 8:07 PM ET getaway day start time from California. Left-hander Dillon Peters (3-2, 4.45 ERA) will be the third straight southpaw to start in the series for the Angels, looking for his first win since August 14. The Indians will counter with another southern California native as right-hander Adam Plutko (6-4, 4.44) makes his second start of the season against Los Angeles. He allowed a run on five hits in five and one-third innings in a win against the Angels on August 3.
Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images