Game 18: Indians 3, Angels 2

April 27, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits a double in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE



The Indians outplayed the Angels for the most of the game, with the exception of runs scored. Thankfully, they eventually won the runs battle at the end of the game.

For some reason the Indians have risen to the occasion when facing elite AL pitchers this season. While they didn't score any runs off Jared Weaver, they shortened his outing so that they got into the Angel bullpen in the seventh inning. The Indians had a shot at Weaver early in the game, but couldn't get a big hit in the first or second innings. Normally that tends to lead to the pitcher settling down and cruising, but the normally-accurate Weaver was wild by his standards, walking four and going deep in counts even when the at-bat didn't result in something good. The Indians, even when they haven't been scoring runs have made pitchers work, and that paid off as the game went on.

Justin Masterson pitched his best game since Opening Day, allowing four hits and five walks in 8.1 innings. He at times fell behind batters, but those stretches were only a couple batters at a time, not multiple innings at a time as in previous outings. But the Angels did manage two runs off him, both coming off the bat of Torii Hunter; the LA right fielder blooped home a run in the first inning, then hit an opposite field homer in the fourth. Hunter also prevented a Tribe run from scoring, making a fine throw from to nap Asdrubal Cabrera at the plate to end the third.

After Weaver left, the Indians went right to work on Hisanori Takahashi. Casey Kotchman finally ended his long hitless streak by opening the seventh with a single, then scored on Michael Brantley's double to deep center. Brantley then scored on a Jason Kipnis single over the shortstop's head.The Indians again rallied in the eighth, but Kotchman couldn't get two hits in as many innings, instead grounding into a fielder's choice.

Masterson started the ninth, but after walking two batters, Manny Acta pulled him in favor of Vinnie Pestano, who had great stuff tonight. His pitches had fantastic movement, though unfortunately one of those pitches ended up at the backstop, moving the runners to second and third. But it didn't matter, for he struck out both Vernon Wells and Erick Aybar swinging.

Aaron Cunningham, who has been filling in for Shin-Soo Choo over the past couple games, opened the ninth against David Carpenter. Had Choo been cleared to play, he probably would have hit for Cunningham, but with no other outfielder on the bench, Aaron got to bat, and made the most of it, hitting a double off the left field wall (just out of the reach of Wells). Michael Brantley was up next. The conventional move in that situation would be to bunt Cunningham to third, and that's what was tried initially. But Brantley whiffed on his first attempt, so owing probably to his successful night at the plate, Manny Acta let him swing away, and it might have paid off had a less rangy center fielder been out there. But Peter Bourjos plays a shallow center field because of his range, and so Brantley's liner to center was right at him. Jason Kipnis then hit a single just past Aybar's glove, so Cunningham stopped momentarily, and then could only go to third.

Then the Indians saw Mike Scioscia do what John Farrell did earlier in the year; he brought an outfielder to the infield/ In this case the extra infielder was Torii Hunter. But the odd defensive alignment didn't come into play, as Asdrubal Cabrera laced a game-winning single down the right field line, a hit that would have been a hit regardless of the alignment.


Source: FanGraphs

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