Naylor Backs Civale’s Strong Start with Second Straight Game-Winning Hit; CLE 3, LAA 2
Bob Toth | On 19, May 2021
The Cleveland Indians ended their brief West Coast trip on the right note on Wednesday night, sneaking out of town with a 3-2 victory over Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels.
The Tribe took a first inning lead, but the Angels got out in front after solo runs in the third and fourth innings, using three extra base hits to take the advantage from the visiting club. Cleveland responded with solo runs of their own in their next two trips to the plate in support of starter Aaron Civale and the bullpen tandem of Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak closed the door despite allowing the tying run to reach base in their respective innings of action.
Ohtani started his night the right way, striking out the first two batters that he faced before Jose Ramirez reached on a single to shallow right field. He swiped second base on the first pitch to Franmil Reyes, and later in the at bat, the big slugger powered a two-base hit into left field to give the Indians a well-manufactured 1-0 lead. Reyes moved to third on a wild pitch but was left there as Josh Naylor grounded out to first.
Civale retired the first eight hitters that he faced with four strikeouts before David Fletcher drove a fastball to right for a triple. He came in to score on a double to left-center by Jose Iglesias to tie the game at one. Civale worked out of the jam, getting the dangerous Ohtani to line out to center.
The Angels took the lead in the fourth. Civale got Anthony Rendon to fly to left, but Jared Walsh made sure that his own fly ball was uncatchable. His eighth home run moved the Halos on top of the Tribe by a 2-1 count.
Ohtani faced one over the minimum combined in the second, third, and fourth, issuing a walk to Jake Bauers in the second and a double to Reyes in the fourth before he was erased. Bauers got his second look at Ohtani to start the fifth and drove the second pitch of the inning over the center field wall for a key solo homer. His second of the year tied the game at two. Amed Rosario singled to right-center before being cut down on the front end of a 3-6-3 double play. Cesar Hernandez drew a walk to end Ohtani’s pitching effort for the day, as he moved to right and was replaced on the rubber by left-hander Tony Watson. He struck out Eddie Rosario to end the fifth.
Civale set down the Angels in order in the bottom half before the Indians got to Watson. Ramirez started the inning with a leadoff walk. He moved up to second base on a groundout by Reyes and swiped his second bag of the game to advance to third. Naylor took a strike and grounded the next pitch back to the mound and off of Watson into shallow left-center around the shifted infielders, allowing Ramirez to scamper home with the go-ahead run, giving the Tribe a 3-2 advantage. Joe Maddon went back to his bullpen for his second reliever of the day, bringing on Steve Cishek, who got the next two in order.
Civale returned to the mound for the bottom of the sixth and had a good frame. Ohtani reached safely bunting against the shift, but he was thrown out trying to steal. Civale struck out the next two, Rendon and Walsh, and he struck out Justin Upton to start the seventh in a 1-2-3 final inning of work.
The Indians left runners at third in the seventh and ninth inning to fail to pad their miniscule lead. A. Rosario worked a walk off of Hunter Strickland. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Austin Hedges and to third on a single to center by Hernandez, but Jose Quijada got E. Rosario to fly out into a double play, with Upton gunning down Rosario at the plate.
After a perfect inning from Quijada in the top of the eighth, Clase took over looking to protect Cleveland’s one-run lead. Kurt Suzuki singled the opposite way to right, but he was thrown out at second in a bang-bang play at the bag. Fletcher flied to right and a sliding Naylor was unable to make the catch, but caught the ball on the hop and fired a strike to Hernandez at the bag to throw out the slow moving catcher Suzuki, who had to pause halfway to make sure Naylor did not come up with the catch on the fly. Iglesias grounded into a fielder’s choice to first, with Bauers cutting down Fletcher at the keystone, and pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin grounded out to first to end the inning.
Aaron Slegers left a man at third in the ninth as the Indians’ rally came up short. After Harold Ramirez and Bauers were retired to open the inning, A. Rosario singled to right, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error by Suzuki. Hedges worked the count full, but popped out to second.
Karinchak entered for the save in the bottom of the ninth. After getting Rendon to foul out to first, he punched out Walsh before walking Upton on six pitches. Jose Rojas stepped into the box with the tying run at first base, but he could not come through as Karinchak froze him looking at a 1-2 curveball low to send the Indians back home with a 3-4 road trip.
Cleveland is now 23-18 on the year, while Los Angeles dropped to 18-24.
Civale (6-1, 3.30 ERA) put together a solid quality start for the Tribe, working seven innings of two-run baseball. He allowed just four hits, with three coming as part of both of the Angels’ scores off of him. He struck out eight and walked one while throwing a career-high 114 pitches.
Ohtani made it two outs into the fifth before being removed. Pushed back for extra rest, his fastball did not have its usual life and he made just 72 pitches in his no-decision. He was charged with two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out five.
Reyes and A. Rosario each had a pair of knocks for the Tribe, accounting for half of the club’s hits on the day. Reyes’ RBI in the first was his 27th of the season. Bauers has hit in a season-high three straight games and has pushed his season average back above the Mendoza line for teh first time since May 8. Naylor, whose homer in the top of the eighth was the deciding run in the Tribe’s 6-5 victory on Tuesday, put his team on top for good for the second straight contest.
“Hopefully I didn’t hurt the pitcher,” said Naylor of his game-deciding knock, “but lucky enough, it went off him and redirected.”
The Indians will take Thursday off before resuming play from Progressive Field on Friday night in a 7:10 PM ET first pitch. Triston McKenzie (1-2, 5.79 ERA) will be on the bump for the Tribe against the last place Minnesota Twins.
Photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images