Indians continue to roll, defeat Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Indians are streaking again.
They have a long way to go to match their recently set American League record of 22 consecutive wins, but their 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday was their third in a row and their 25th win in the past 26 games.
Though they have already clinched the AL Central title, the Indians didn’t play like a team lacking motivation. Starting pitcher Mike Clevinger (11-5) gave up one run and three hits in six innings while Jay Bruce led a 14-hit attack by coming a home run short of hitting for the cycle.
Austin Jackson also had a big night with four hits, and catcher Roberto Perez had two hits, including a home run.
Though the record winning streak has ended, the Indians insist there is plenty to play for and no reason to have a letdown. They are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Houston Astros for the best record in the AL.
“It’s our job,” Bruce said. “We take that seriously, and we take a lot of pride in coming out every day and being professional and preparing and being ready to play and expecting to win.
“We’re still winning a lot of games, 25 out of 26. It’s one of those deals where (the record streak) is in the past, but we didn’t really think of it as a letdown when we did lose. Keep on playing and keep on winning. We’re two games back of the Dodgers (for the best record in the majors) right now, so we’re still within striking distance.”
The loss was a missed opportunity for the Angels. With Minnesota falling to the New York Yankees, the Angels had a chance to move to within a half-game of the second AL wild card. Instead, Los Angeles remains 1 1/2 games behind the Twins.
The Angels, though, had their chances.
With Cleveland leading 3-1, Indians reliever Bryan Shaw entered the game to pitch the eighth inning and retired the first two hitters. C.J. Cron and pinch hitter Ben Revere then singled, and Brandon Phillips followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2, bringing up Mike Trout with the potential tying run at third base.
Trout hit a bullet on one hop to second baseman Jose Ramirez, who threw to first to maintain the one-run lead.
The Indians gave themselves a cushion with three runs in the ninth, one coming in on Jackson’s fourth single, and two more on a single by Edwin Encarnacion.
The runs turned out to be big, as Justin Upton homered to lead off the bottom of the ninth.
The Angels got their lone run off Clevinger in the fifth inning.
Kole Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons began the rally with back-to-back singles. Simmons, though, was picked off first for the first out. After Luis Valbuena walked, Cron struck out for the second out.
On a pitch to Martin Maldonado, Valbuena broke for second. When Perez threw to second, Calhoun took off for home and scored as Valbuena stopped before being tagged out in a rundown to end the inning.
The key to the inning, according to both teams, was the pickoff of Simmons.
“He was trying to get a jump, trying to get a read, and he just got caught in between,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Clevinger said, “That kind of slowed their momentum right there, it was like a dagger. They had the ball rolling a little bit in a close game, and that kind of eased it up a little bit.”
Angels starter Tyler Skaggs (2-6) got the loss after giving up two runs on eight hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings.
“He made some pitches, kept us in the game and his stuff looked good,” Scioscia said. “He gave us a chance to win, we just didn’t swing the bats today.”
NOTES: Indians 2B Jason Kipnis got his second start in center field, after starting there Sunday against Kansas City but getting no chances in the field. Kipnis had not played in center since college, but with regular CF Bradley Zimmer out with a broken hand and Austin Jackson playing left field to fill in for the injured Michael Brantley, the Indians plan to use Kipnis and rookie Greg Allen in center. Kipnis got his first chance in center in the fifth inning when he fielded a single by SS Andrelton Simmons. As in the Sunday game, Kipnis was replaced by Allen after five innings. ... Angels 2B Brandon Phillips returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with lower back tightness. ... Angels LHP Andrew Heaney played catch Monday but is still bothered by an impingement in his left shoulder and will be skipped in the rotation when his turn comes up Saturday in Houston. The Angels plan to go with a “bullpen” game.