The Fourth of July is a day to celebrate all of the great things about our country and to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. The Indians decided to get the fireworks going early yesterday afternoon as they beat up on the Angels, 12-3 and in the process, won their second straight series in impressive fashion. With the win, the Indians ran their record to 42-39 and kept pace with the White Sox in the AL Central race.
On the mound for the Angels was Ervin Santana. If you don’t recall, his last visit to Progressive Field in July 2011 resulted in the Indians getting no-hit. Not looking to waste any time and allow Santana to find a rhythm, Michael Brantley got things going in the bottom of the first. After two-out walks to both Jason Kipnis and Travis Hafer, Brantley lined Santana’s 1-1 offering out to the visiting bullpen in right to put the Tribe up 3-0.
The Angels weren’t about to go down without a fight. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like in the top half of the second inning. Derek Lowe gave up back-to-back singles to start off the frame and it looked as if he was about to cough the lead right back up. A few batters later, an RBI fielder’s choice by Maicer Izturis made it a 3-1 game. Lowe desperately needed to get a ground ball to end the threat after Izturis stole second to put runners on second and third with two down. He would get just what he needed and the Indians escaped the threat with their lead intact.
In the bottom of the second, the Indians went for the Angels’ metaphorical jugular. Back-to-back singles by Johnny Damon and Lou Marson followed by a Shin-Soo Choo double made it a 4-1 game. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to make it 5-1. Jason Kipnis singled to make it 6-1. After a Travis Hafner single, Mike Scioscia removed Santana in an attempt to stop the bleeding but it didn’t help. Two batter later, Casey Kotchman sent Hisanori Takahashi‘s 2-0 pitch screaming to right. It just barely cleared the wall, but it still counted for three runs. Indians 9, Angels 1, ball game all but over.
The Indians would add three more “insurance” runs in the bottom of the fifth to make to run the score up to 12-1. Kotchman, Damon, and Jack Hannahan led off the inning with back-to-back-to0-back singles to get things going. Marson followed with an RBI single, Choo hit into a double play that also brought home a run, and Cabrera hit an RBI double. It was officially time to party at Progressive Field, and 20,979 fans in attendance were ready to rock and roll.
The Angels would put together one more last-ditch effort in the top of the sixth. A sacrifice fly by Alberto Callaspo and an RBI single by Izturis cut the Indians’ lead to 12-3, but the Halos couldn’t fully recover. The Tribe’s pitching staff was officially locked in and weren’t about to cough up the lead. Lowe made it through six quality innings for what seemed like the first time in weeks and Nick Hagadone, Tony Sipp, and Jeremy Accardo slammed the door in the blowout win.
The Good: The offense continues to roll. The Indians scored 12 runs on 15 hits, cranked two power-punch home runs, and got key hits with runners in scoring position. It’s games like these which make you wonder how they can struggle so mightily at other times. When everyone’s hitting and doing their part, this team is a legit contender.
The other good was the start from Derek Lowe. He threw six quality innings, scattering 11 hits and allowing only three runs. However, early on it looked like things were going to get away from Lowe. After the Indians jumped out to a 3-0 lead, the Angels threatened to tie things up, or worse. That’s something that has been a problem for him of late, and seeing him hold the Angels to only one run when things could have gotten much worse is an encouraging sign. He showed good control (no walks) and pounded the strike zone. This is the type of performance the Indians will need to continue to see out of Lowe moving forward.
The Bad: Thinking… Thinking… Still thinking…12 runs on 15 hits, everyone in the starting lineup got a hit, Derek Lowe pitched great, and the bullpen threw 3 shut out innings. Nope, nothing bad about this one.
The “Huh?”: The Indians scored 12 runs and knocked 15 hits on the same day Travis Hafner made his triumphant return to the lineup. No, he didn’t have a freakishly great impact on paper (1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored) but it’s enough to make you say to yourself, “Huh… I wonder.” (See what I did there?)