Tribe Completes Season Sweep of Halos; Indians 4, Angels 3

Seven Cleveland pitchers combined to hold off Los Angeles, 4-3, on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep in Anaheim and a six-game season sweep of the Angels by the Indians.

A homer in the first and three runs in the second backed Tribe pitching on Wednesday, as starter Adam Plutko and six relievers behind him held off the Halos as the Indians pulled back within four games of the first place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and stayed a half game in back of Oakland for the second AL Wild Card spot. The combined efforts allowed Cleveland (86-61) to gain ground in the division, while the Angels fell to 67-80 with their fourth straight loss.

Facing their third left-handed starter in as many days, the Indians jumped out early against Peters. After a pair of fly ball outs by Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado, Carlos Santana battled for seven pitches, driving the payoff pitch over the right field wall with the opposite field home run, his 34th of the year, to give the Indians a 1-0 lead. Cleveland missed out on a chance to add on more after a two-out single by Yasiel Puig and a walk by Jordan Luplow as Franmil Reyes grounded out to end the inning.

Santana – Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Plutko loaded the bags in the first but weaved out of the mess. David Fletcher singled with one out and both Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun walked with two outs, but Plutko got the rookie Taylor Ward swinging on a curveball to leave the bases loaded.

Jason Kipnis drew a leadoff walk to start the second and moved to second on the second balk in as many innings by Peters. With the runner in scoring position, Kevin Plawecki delivered with an RBI-ground rule double to left to extend the Indians lead to 2-0. Yu Chang flied out to right for the first out, but Lindor powered a 1-1 changeup over the wall in left-center for the two-run shot, doubling the Tribe’s lead to 4-0.

Plutko pitched himself into a messy situation for the second straight inning in the bottom half of inning number two. After a foul out by Andrelton Simmons, Matt Thaiss doubled to right and moved to third on a single by Kevan Smith. Brian Goodwin popped to third for the second out, but Fletcher’s second single in as many innings plated Thaiss to make it a 4-1 game. Shohei Ohtani was not able to further cut into the deficit as he lined to right two pitches later to end the inning.

The Indians wasted a one-out double by Luplow in the third, while Plutko rebounded with his first 1-2-3 inning of the afternoon in the home half.

Peters was given the hook after walking Plawecki to start the fourth. Noe Ramirez gave up a two-out single by Mercado in relief, but he struck out Santana swinging to leave a pair on base.

Plutko stranded Smith after his two-out double in the fourth, but he was not long for the game. After retiring Fletcher for the first time on a liner to right, Ohtani went deep for the 18th time this season, making it a 4-2 game. Carlos Carrasco entered for some early relief work and walked Pujols before striking out Calhoun and Ward swinging to escape the fifth.

Carrasco pitched an easy sixth, getting two groundouts and a fly out around a one-out walk by Thaiss. He turned the game over to Tyler Clippard in the seventh and he worked a perfect inning, but his third pitch of the eighth was belted to center by Calhoun for his 29th homer of the campaign to cut the score to 4-3. Nick Goody came on and struck out the first two that he faced before putting the tying run on base in Thaiss via a free pass. His pinch-runner stole second, but was stranded there as Goody struck out his third batter of the inning swinging to leave a key base runner in scoring position.

The Indians missed out on chances to add to their lead throughout the game, as the club recorded at least one hit in each of the first eight innings. In the ninth, they were retired in order for the first time and manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen for Nick Wittgren in the save situation. He got Goodwin to pop to short before walking the possible tying run Fletcher. Oliver Perez came on in relief and got Ohtani to ground into a fielder’s choice force at second for the second out, but there was no one at first for a return throw as Perez had to dodge a flying piece of Ohtani’s bat instead of racing to first. Francona came back out one final time, bringing on Adam Cimber to face the dangerous Pujols as the potential winning run. Two sinkers and a slider sunk Pujols as he was cut down swinging on just three pitches to end the contest.

Carrasco – John Cordes/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)

Plutko lasted just four and one-third innings before turning the game over to Carrasco, who earned the win (his fifth) with one and two-thirds scoreless and hitless innings of work. Plutko left after 76 pitches, allowing two runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Over the final four and two-thirds innings, the bullpen gave up just one hit (despite four walks), the Calhoun homer off of Clippard.

Peters took the loss for the Angels to drop to 3-3 on the season. He worked three innings, allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and a strikeout. The two long balls did the majority of damage against him. Six relievers behind him scattered five hits and no walks over the final six innings.

Puig and Luplow each had a pair of hits for the Tribe in the middle of the lineup, as did Plawecki out of the eight-spot. Lindor drove in a pair of runs with his 31st homer of the season to give him 70 RBI. Santana’s RBI on his career-high tying 34th home run gave him 87 RBI. Cleveland as a team went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position while stranding eight.

Smith and Fletcher each had two hits for the Angels.

Indians closer Brad Hand left California early and returned to Cleveland to undergo an MRI on his left arm. The exam provided clean results, but Francona is expected to rest the All-Star this weekend. The Angels were once again without the services of fellow All-Star Mike Trout as he continues to deal with a nerve issue in his right foot.

The Indians will take Thursday off for travel before starting a big three-game series at Progressive Field against the Twins on Friday night. Rookie righty Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.93 ERA) is expected to start for the Indians in the series opener.

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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