Zach McAllister turned in a strong start and the Tribe’s bats were off to the races Tuesday night as the Tribe dodged rainstorms and clobbered the Angels, 9-5, to even the series at a game apiece. The Indians improved their record to 41-39 and held Chicago’s AL Central lead to two games even as the White Sox clobbered Texas, 19-2.
The Indians got off on the right foot as Shin-Soo Choo led off the bottom of the first with a triple off Dan Haren and scored on Jason Kipnis‘ RBI single. The hit parade continued in the second as the Tribe scored via Shelley Duncan‘s sacrifice fly and Jack Hannahan‘s RBI double, and Duncan took Haren yard in the bottom of the fourth to give Cleveland a 4-0 lead.
The Angels finally struck back in the fifth. Alberto Callaspo and Howie Kendrick came through with back-to-back singles to start the inning before Erick Aybar lined out. John Hester hit what should have been an inning-ending double play ball to third, but Hannahan’s throw to second flew into right field and Callaspo came home. Rookie phenom Mike Trout then cleared the bases with a three-run homer and the great Albert Pujols capped the rally with a solo shot to put the Halos up 5-4.
The lead didn’t last long. Jose Lopez tied it with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth to knock Haren from the game. He and Jason Kipnis both scored on Michael Brantley‘s groundout when Albert Pujols missed his relay to the plate as the Tribe regained the lead.
The Indians continued to add runs in the late innings—Kipnis scored on another Brantley groundout in the seventh and Aaron Cunningham came through with an RBI single in the eighth—while Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Esmil Rogers kept Los Angeles’ bats at bay. The end of the game was prolonged by two separate nearly hour-long rain delays (one in the top of the eighth, one with one out in the top of the ninth), but the final score was worth the wait as Cleveland held on for a 9-5 victory.
The Good: The Tribe’s bats took an off-day Monday, but they were back in full force Tuesday night. The Indians scored nine runs on 14 hits against the mighty Dan Haren and one of the best bullpens in the league. Shelley Duncan homered, Shin-Soo Choo had two extra base hits, and Jose Lopez went 3-for-4.
It was also an excellent night for Zach McAllister. He game out guns blazing, and the first inning he threw—he elevated his mid-90′s fastball to make Mike Trout and Torii Hunter look silly on swinging strike threes—was one of the most dominant any Indians pitcher has thrown this year. All in all he pitched a quality start against one of the league’s best lineups, striking out five without allowing a single free pass. But while three of the runs he allowed in the fifth inning were judged as earned, the Angels would not have scored at all had Hannahan not missed with the double play-initiating throw.
The Bad: The rest of the lineup had a field day against the Angels’ pitching staff, but Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana combined to go 0-for-8 at the plate (Santana did draw a walk). Although the fact that the Indians hit so well without any help from their two anchors is a pretty good sign.
The “Huh?”: Jose Lopez, a man who entered Tuesday’s action hitting just .257/.282/.405, was in the lineup at DH. Even worse, Manny Acta had him hitting cleanup—an understandable move against a left-handed starter, but not against the right-handed Dan Haren. We all know that Acta likes to get the handedness advantage, so how did he not notice that Lopez is slashing an abysmal .247/.282/.361 (74 wRC+) against same-handed pitchers this year? This Jose Lopez hype has to stop.
Also, was the second rain delay really necessary? The Angels were down to their last two outs when the game took an almost hour-long pause for the second time. Wouldn’t it have been easier just to get through the last couple batters?
Interesting Tidbit: My great great aunt Rebecca Eden, who served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in World War II, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night in honor of the Fourth of July and her 90th birthday. And the National Anthem was performed by my old high school’s barbershop group. (That counts as interesting, right?)