Records: Indians 36-36, Angels 38-32
Mistakes are a part of the game, but they seem to be a bigger part of Indians' games than any other club in the league. Tonight a mistake turned a competitive game into a non-competitive game. I suppose that's oversimplifying things, as five of the six runs that Josh Tomlin gave up were earned, but Asdrubal Cabrera's error was a major contributor to the Angels' five-run fifth inning. And the frustrating part of it was that the error was largely an error in judgment. With a runner on first and Cabrera positioned on the other side of second base, Raul Ibanez hit a weak grounder to the Tribe shortstop. Instead of making the prudent play and getting the sure out at first, Cabrera tried to make the spectacular play by grabbing the ball and tagging David Freese in one motion. But the ball ricocheted out of Cabrera's glove, and everyone was safe. The extra out put more pressure on Josh Tomlin, and he couldn't pitch around the error.
All of us have had a first-hand look at Miguel Cabrera over the years, and have a grudging appreciation for his special talents thanks to the 18 games a year he plays against the Indians. But there haven't been many first-hand opportunities to see the American League's other great hitter in action. But tonight we saw Mike Trout at work, or to be more specific, the way he worked his way into a three-run homer. With runners on the corners, he took strike one from Tomlin, then fouled off the next five pitches that entered the zone. Tomlin threw slow curveballs, inside fastballs, and outside fastballs, but couldn't get a pitch by Trout. Then, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat he threw a down-the-middle fastball, and Trout smoked it over the fence in right field to cap a four-run inning.
Until that point Tomlin was on his way to another nice start. After a somewhat difficult first inning, he had settled down. But the fifth inning derailed all that, and Cabrera's error derailed the fifth inning. Howie Kendrick led off the sixth with a home run to make it a 6-2 game. Two batters later, Tomlin was out of the game, going only 5.1 innings.
Starting tonight for the Angels was Matt Shoemaker, a pitcher who was aggressive in the strike zone. Tonight he had Tribe hitters off balance, mixing his pitches very well. This was the first time the Indians had faced Shoemaker, but as far as I could tell he made few mistakes. One of those mistakes was to Lonnie Chisenhall in the fourth inning, and the Tribe third baseman effortlessly deposited the ball into the Cleveland bullpen. Chisenhall had gone 0-for-13 since sitting last Thursday, but tonight he went 2-for-4, and was the only batter to really have any success against Shoemaker (apparently Terry Francona's curse only went so far). But otherwise Shoemaker was magnificent, striking out 10 in eight innings of work.
Yesterday the Indians brought up Mark Lowe to serve as the ninth arm in the bullpen, at least until Zach McAllister is activated on Thursday, and tonight they had an opportunity to use him. After Kyle Crockett finished the sixth inning, Lowe would enter game, his task soaking up as many outs as possible. The first batter he faced was Mike Trout, and this time Trout golfed a home run on a pitch that probably wasn't in the strike zone. Trout ended the night going 3-for-5 with two home runs (amazingly enough tonight was only his second two-homer game) and a double. He wouldn't be the only Angel to have a good evening: Kole Calhoun went 4-for-5 with a homer, and Howie Kendrick went 3-for-5 with a home run of his own.
After Josh Outman finally finished the ninth (after giving up two more runs), a heavy rain began to fall on Progressive Field. The tarp was pulled over the infield, and the two clubs waited out an 11-minute rain delay to finish what was by then a forgone conclusion. Closer Ernesto Frieri came on to get some work, and to the Indians' credit, they didn't give away any at-bats, and Jason Kipnis hustled home from second when Carlos Santana hit a check-swing infield single. Frieri had to throw 28 pitches, which may affect how he's used the remainder of the series. But that was one of the few things that went wrong for the Angels tonight.
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