A strong start from Justin Masterson and big contributions from the bottom of the order powered Cleveland to a 6-2 win to kick off a three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim Monday night. The win improves the Indians’ record to 54-62, nine games in back of the division-leading Chicago White Sox.
The Indians drew first blood against Los Angeles starter C.J. Wilson. Brent Lillibridge led off the third inning by reaching on a Howie Kendrick error, then moved to second on Casey Kotchman‘s grounder. Lou Marson walked to put two on with one out and Jason Donald ripped the first pitch he saw for an RBI single to score Lillibridge. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a run-scoring base hit of his own to bring Marson home and put the Tribe up 2-0. Lillibridge’s two-out solo shot in the top of the fourth then made it a 3-0 game.
Meanwhile, the Angels’ bats kept quiet until the bottom of the eighth. Mike Trout reached with a leadoff walk, and after retiring Torii Hunter for the first out Vinnie Pestano served up an Albert Pujols home run. The Halos finally got on the board, narrowing the Tribe’s lead to 3-2 and snapping Pestano’s scoreless innings streak at 21.
But the Indians weren’t done. Three straight singles from Ezequiel Carrera, Lillibridge, and Kotchman loaded the bases with nobody out and knocked Los Angeles reliever Hisanori Takahashi out of the game before he retired a single batter. Marson then drew an RBI walk off new pitcher Jason Isringhausen to score Carrera, and Lillibridge came home on Jason Kipnis‘ sacrifice fly; a wild pitch two batters later brought Kotchman home. Chris Perez gave up a pair of baserunners but got through the ninth unscathed as the Indians came out with a 6-2 win.
The Good: The offense was firing on all cylinders Monday. Brent Lillibridge led the way, going 2-for-4 with a home run, and Lou Marson was right behind after reaching base three times in four plate appearances (a single and two walks). Jason Donald, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Casey Kotchman all joined in with multihit games.
Justin Masterson had himself a solid outing as well, shutting out one of the game’s best lineups on six hits through six-plus innings. Neither his three walks nor his four strikeouts were exactly what you’d have wanted to see from him, but it was a strong start nonetheless.
The “Huh?”: What is it with Manny Acta and overvaluing utility infielders? Jason Donald once again found himself in the leadoff spot Monday night. This despite entering the game hitting .190 with an OPS under .500. Why would any manager want to give Donald the most plate appearances on the team?
Interesting Tidbit: The Indians have now won four games in six days for the first time in over a month. The last time they won four games in less than a week’s time was July 3-8, when they went 4-2 against the Angels and Rays heading into the All-Star Break.