Derek Lowe shut the Angels down for almost eight innings of three-hit ball and Cleveland hitters took advantage of the Halos’ (7-15) mistakes as the Indians (11-9) took the rubber match of the series, 4-0.
Cleveland and Los Angeles were deadlocked in a scoreless tie for four-and-a-half innings as Lowe kept the Angels’ bats silent while Ervin Santana kept the Indians off the board. Santana finally allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth as Torii Hunter lost Asdrubal Cabrera‘s two-out fly ball in the sun; Cabrera scooted into second while Aaron Cunningham and Michael Brantley crossed the plate to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.
The Indians added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth off of Kevin Jepsen. Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana opened the innings with back-to-back singles. Jack Hannahan sacrifice bunt attempt became a disaster for the Angels as Jepsen’s errant scored Jason Donald (who was running for Hafner) and moved Santana to third as Hannahan went to second. Santana then scored on Shelley Duncan‘s sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, the Angels were helpless against Lowe. The Halos loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but Vinnie Pestano struck out Howie Kendrick to preserve the lead. Chris Perez pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out both Albert Pujols and Torii Hunter, to give the Indians a 4-0 victory.
The Good: Derek Lowe—need I say more? He threw 7.2 innings of shutout ball against a team that (on paper) has one of the best lineups in baseball. He held the Angels to just five baserunners (three hits, two walks while inducing 15 ground balls and two pop-ups. What more could you want from your No. 3 starter?
The Bad: It hasn’t hurt him so far, but one wonders how long Lowe will be able to enjoy this type of success without striking anyone out. After getting only one strikeout Saturday he’s struck out more than two batters only once in five 2012 outings. Lowe’s been a pitch-to-contact guy for more than a decade, but he’s never been this stingy with the punchouts before.
The “Huh?”: Jack Hannahan’s sacrifice bunt attempt turned out to be one of the best plays of the game for the Tribe, but there’s no way Manny Acta could have predicted that. So the question is, why was Hannahan bunting in the first place? The Indians were up by two so it wasn’t as though they needed a run, and with two on and nobody out, it’s hard to see the rationale behind taking the bat out of Hannahan’s hands the way he’s hitting right now.
Interesting Tidbit: MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian noted that this marked the Indians’ 11th straight game without a home run. The last time the Tribe had a dinger dry spell this long was 1983, when Cleveland went 14 games without going yard.