If the Los Angeles Angels don’t use Mike Trout, you’re legally supposed to win the game. Tonight, thanks to a defensive shitshow, the Cleveland Indians broke the law by losing, 7-4, to a fishless Angels squad.
It’d be easy to place blame on the bullpen — after all, Adam Cimber could have made a few better pitches — but there are much more worthwhile targets for finger pointing tonight. Most notably, Michael Brantley and Roberto Perez’s combined efforts to ruin Andrew Miller’s homecoming.
Miller himself was able to get through an inning unscathed; not quite vintage Miller yet, but he only walked one and struck out one with his nasty slider doing things. Four of Miller’s six strikes in the outing were via the slider, according to Baseball Savant, but his fastball maxed out at 92.9 miles per hour. That’s to be expected, though — he’s coming back from a lengthy disabled list stint and he needs time to get up to speed. It’s the reason the Indians will likely ride him hard through the final few months of the season despite the division being all but wrapped up. Dude needs the work, and tonight he proved he can work with some of it.
Unfortunately, Miller had to leave eventually and that gave way for everyone else to come in ruin everything. Neil Ramirez had an uneventful strikeout, but Oliver Perez gave up a hit to the only batter he faced, Shohei Ohtani. Michael Brantley and his godawful range (and maybe just a touch of fear due to previous shoulder injuries) led to him flopping — not diving, flopping — in an attempt to catch Ohtani’s floater that had a 29 percent hit probability. Right on cue, Ohtani stole second base when Roberto Perez failed to transfer the ball from his glove to his throwing hand.
The collapse was on.
I guess you could say Terry Francona made some questionable decisions in the fateful eighth inning that saw four Angels cross the plate. He intentionally walked 84-year-old Albert Pujols (who eventually hobbled around to score), and he waited a bit too long to pull the plug on Cimber. But I still blame the defense, first and foremost. If Brantley or Perez make the plays they’re supposed to make, we could be talking about a game going into the 15th inning right now instead of discussing a loss. On second thought, maybe I’m okay with this outcome...
Ohtani was an absolute monster tonight. His eighth-inning single was part of the Angels’ biggest inning, but it was his smallest contribution. He also clobbered two home runs off Mike Clevinger — his first and second road home runs of his career. You may also remember that Ohtani hit his first career home run off the Indians as well back on April 3 and his second on April 4. To date, four of Ohtani’s 11 home runs have come against the Indians, which is just absurd. What have we ever done to you, Shohei?
The Indians will have another shot at the Trout-less Angels tomorrow, when hopefully they will decide to follow proper protocol and not implode.