The Los Angeles Angels once again failed to take advantage of a loss by Minnesota and their American League wild-card hopes are becoming slimmer as they host the Cleveland Indians on Thursday for the finale of their three-game series. The Angels have lost three straight games - as have the Twins - and eight of 12 as they trail Minnesota for the second wild-card spot by 1 1/2 games with just 11 remaining.
Los Angeles suffered a 6-5 loss to the lava-hot Indians on Wednesday and is just 3-5 as it enters the finale of a nine-game homestand. The Angels are 0-5 against Cleveland this season and have dropped each of the last 10 meetings. The Indians have won 26 of their last 27 overall contests - including 13 straight on the road - and hold a 1 1/2-game lead over Houston in the race for the AL’s best record. “We’re trying to finish it. We understand we have a job to do on a daily basis, and that is going out there and winning and giving ourselves a chance to be in the postseason,” standout shortstop Francisco Lindor, who hit his 31st homer, said in a postgame television interview. “Once we’re in the postseason, it is all about making sure we give ourselves the best chance to make the World Series.”
TV: 4:07 p.m. ET, MLB Network, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland), FSN West (Los Angeles)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.52 ERA) vs. Angels RH Parker Bridwell (8-2, 3.71)
Salazar recently returned from an elbow injury and is starting for the first time since Sept. 5 after making two bullpen appearances. The 27-year-old retired only two batters in his last start against the Chicago White Sox, giving up four runs, and Cleveland wants to extend his pitch count to see if he is a possible postseason starter. Salazar is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA in four career turns against the Angels and has struggled with Kole Calhoun (3-for-9, two homers).
Bridwell scattered three hits over six scoreless innings to defeat Texas in his last turn and halt a stretch of five straight winless outings. The 26-year-old allowed 15 runs and 20 hits in 12 frames over a three-start span before the turnaround performance against the Rangers. Bridwell, who is facing the Indians for the first time, has served up 15 homers - with 10 coming at Angel Stadium.
1. Indians LF Michael Brantley (ankle), who last played on Aug. 8, had a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday where it was decided he can’t run for another 7-to-10 days and now is unlikely to be available when the postseason begins.
2. Los Angeles CF Mike Trout is just 3-for-22 over his last six contests after striking out to end Wednesday’s game.
3. Cleveland CF Austin Jackson is 6-for-10 with three runs scored in the series and 10-for-21 with two walks and seven runs scored during a five-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Indians 6, Angels 3