CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 4: Michael Brantley #23 celebrates with Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians and Casey Kotchman #35 of the Cleveland Indians after all scored on a three run home run hit by Brantley during the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Progressive Field on July 4, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Not only did the Indians take a series against one of the hottest teams in baseball, but they improved their Pythagorean Winning Percentage at the same time! The Indians now have a run differential of -27, +9 runs from the start of the day.
A year ago, Ervin Santana no-hit the Indians, but today he about as opposite a performance from that as you can have. The Indians pounded him for 8 runs (all earned) in 1.1 innings, so after the second inning ended, essentially all that was left to do was to get some starters out of the game, get some rarely-used relievers some innings, and keep everyone healthy.
Travis Hafner was back in the lineup, and he contributed immediately to the offense. With one on and two outs in the first, he worked a walk after seeing 12 pitches from Santana; the next batter, Michael Brantley hit a three-run homer to kickstart the Tribe offense. Derek Lowe minimized the damage after getting himself into a bases loaded, nobody out jam; he allowed one run to score, but no more than that. The Indians would then scored six runs in the second to blow the game open, with Casey Kotchman's three-run homer the big blow.
Lowe has been shaky of late, but he did a decent job today navigating through the LA lineup, giving the Indians six innings and allowing three runs. I think this is what Lowe is going to do when he's on his game, and that's all right for a fourth/fifth starter.
The Indians scored three more runs in the fifth to turn the game into a complete laugher. The first four Indians of the inning singled, and after Choo grounded into a run-scoring double play, Asdrubal Cabrera finished the scoring with a double off the base of the wall in left center.
Lou Marson had another fine day, going 2-for-4 to raise his batting average to near .300, both hits coming off right-handed pitchers. I think at this point Acta needs to ride the hot hand, spotting Santana at first or DH at least a couple times in the upcoming Tampa Bay series.