April 24, 2014

Indians 5 Angels 2: McAllister, four-run fourth get Tribe back on winning track

Lonnie ChisenhallWhile you were sleeping last night, your Cleveland Indians were getting back to work. The deflating series in Oakland was now behind them and the Tribe had three more games to go on this 10-game road trip. We are in the stretch drive and time is no longer on the Indians side. As Jason Kipnis said Sunday: “”It’s go time. You gotta win. There’s no time to sit around and feel sorry about losing two out of three. We’ve got three against the Angels and those are big games.”

The offense is going to have to start carrying a bigger load if Terry Francona’s crew is going to stay in the chase for the two Wild Card spots. There is no time like the present but facing Jered Weaver, a guy who has had the Tribe’s number during his career, was not going to be an easy task. After just one hit in the first three innings, the bats finally put together a big inning, producing a crooked number. Kipnis was of course right in the middle of it.

The team’s clear offensive MVP walked and stole second to start the frame. He would score on Carlos Santana’s shot single to right field, giving the Tribe a 1-0 lead. After a Michael Brantley pop up, Asdrubal Cabrera continued his string of improved at-bats with a double to right. Jason Giambi’s sacrifice fly brought home Santana, setting the stage for Lonnie Chisenhall.

Chiz has been an enigma of sorts this season. This was supposed to be the year that he came up and established himself as the third baseman of both the present and the future. He has been given every chance to become the guy, but struggled out of the gate. He was sent to AAA Columbus to work out his confidence and raked to the tune of .390/.456/.676. It was more proof that he had graduated from AAA. It was time for him to prove himself on the Major League stage. Since his return, it has been more of the same from Lonnie. You see the beautiful swing and think it is definitely in him to be the man. The former First Round pick just hasn’t been consistent enough and has become something of a black hole at the bottom of the lineup over the last month. But last night, he came up with the biggest knock of them all.

With two out and Cabrera on third, Chisenhall got a hold of a Weaver hanger and took it over the wall in right to extend the Indians lead to 4-0. Lonnie entered the game in a 3-35 slump.

“That was a good swing,” Francona said. “That was exciting to see.”

Yan Gomes and Michael Bourn kept things going with back to back singles and the ninth man to bat in the inning, Nick Swisher, lined a rocket shot right at Mark Trumbo at first base for the third out. The offense made Weaver work in that big frame, making him throw 37 pitches.

“I know Weaver’s velocity is down after that injury, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten how to pitch,” said Francona. “We had one really good inning, but we kept after him. We made him work really hard.”

The four-run fourth was more than enough for the Tribe’s starter Zach McAllister, who looks like he has completely rounded himself back into mid-season form. After missing six weeks with the finger issue, The Zach Attack has now put together back to back quality starts that mirrored each other. A week ago in Minnesota, he threw six innings of  four hit, one run ball, striking out seven. Last night in Anaheim, McAllister went six and a third, again allowing just one earned, this time on five hits with five strikeouts.

As always, Zach led with his fastball and the Angels weren’t able to get to him, other than the one fourth inning run.

McAllister gave way to Bryan Shaw after a one out seventh inning walk to Hank Conger. Shaw calmly retired both Angels he faced to close the book on Z Mac.

“I felt like I was able to make some pitches when I needed to,” McAllister said. “Early in the game, I felt really good. I just felt like, after that, I didn’t have the command of the fastball the way I would’ve liked.”

The Tribe added a ninth inning insurance run on a solo homer from Swisher, who all of a sudden is starting to regain his power stroke. It was his third homer in his last 35 at-bats. He had hit is previous three in 127 ABs (h/t to Jordan Bastian of Indians.com for that stat). If Swisher (five for his last 14 with 2 HR) and Cabrera (five for his last 11) can finally catch fire it would be a huge boom for the streaky offense. As I said before, there is no time like the present.

“Hopefully, this is something that snowballs into something great for us,” said Swisher. “We’re coming toward the end of the season. We’ve got some guys starting to get hot right now. This thing ain’t over. There’s no doubt about that.”

Tonight they go for two in a row in Anaheim with rookie Danny Salazar taking the mound. He and Zach McAllister flipped spots to give Salazar a little extra rest as the organization continues to monitor him closely. The course has seemed to again reverse on Salazar as the Tribe is clearly thinking long term with him for good reason. He may still end up in the bullpen late in the season.

“Some parts will depend on how he pitches,” said Francona. “Some parts depend when Corey Kluber gets back. Things can change so fast.”

The Angels will counter with lefty C.J. Wilson.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    McAllister seems to be back on track and it couldn’t be at a better time. Still they beat a team they should beat hard to get excited over that they need to start winning some series, now, not tomorrow. As one of my all time favorite movie lines goes, “THERE IS NO TOMORROW, THERE IS NO TOMORROW!”

  • mgbode

    back to .500 post-Detroit series and beat Jered Weaver to go 3-3 vs. him over the last 3 seasons and 1-1 in the past week. where’s the hamster?

  • nj0

    “they beat a team they should beat”

    You sound dangerously close to counting wins there.

  • Natedawg86

    we were the underdogs last night at +138

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea… does that mean that one enjoys it?

  • Hypno_Toad

    The Tigers play Oakland next week. Lets get hot now so we can gain ground when that happens.

  • ToxicToast

    Aaron Gleeman at hardball talk is reporting that the tribe have released Dice-k. Seems a little odd given the pitching injuries and the little time left in the clippers’ season.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yep the rumor is true.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Taking a couple laps on the wheel while prepping an excuse?

  • mgbode

    he’s in the Dice-K thread complaining about Carrasco (I don’t get it either). anyway, we’ll see if he responds or just waits for the Tribe to lose another game.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Ha, good stuff. I tried to tell folks that the world wasn’t ending after the Detroit series, but not many people were interested in things like the Tribe’s remaining strength of schedule. They lose to good teams and they beat bad teams… that’s this year’s Tribe for better or for worse. They have 6 games coming up @Braves and @Tigers, and those games aren’t going to go well, and folks will be back on here killing the Tribe again.

  • mgbode

    well, it’s tough. KC at least won the games they could against Detroit, while we got swept. We lost the division in that series no matter how unlikely the division was in the first place.

    Don’t forget the 3 game set with Baltimore. We are basically tied with them, so it’s really important. If we can go 5-4 over those games, while winning the O`s series, then I’m feeling pretty good about at least having a shot at October.

    First things first, we have to win 1 more game against the Angels.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Baltimore has a brutal schedule the rest of the way… I just can’t see them hanging around that final wild card spot. They play the Red Sox 9 times before the season ends, not to mention 6 games against the Rays, and 3 games against the A’s. They also play the Yankees 7 times, who have been much better as of late. Even though the Indians have a really easy schedule compared to every other team, I don’t know if I see them beating out either the Rays or the As for that last spot. Their bats will need to heat up and actually STAY hot for more than a game or two. But rest assured, whether they make it or not, they will at least be in the race until the last week.

  • mgbode

    Oh, I get that, but I also think that one of those teams gets hot in September. If it happens to be the O`s, then I want that extra game in our back pocket.

    Honestly, I’m hoping that Boston and TB blow everyone out of the water and we only have to chase Oakland. But, that would be best case scenario (or Boston and Oakland do that and TB/Balt/NYY take turns beating each other up while losing to Boston).

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Absolutely agree. The Tribe fan in me is sick of grinding out wins. I’d love to see a week where most of the team gets hot at the same time. Michael Bourn has quietly been pretty awful the last couple weeks and he needs to find a way to get himself on base even if he’s not hitting. Swisher is finally heating up… would love to see him ride that for a whole month. My gut tells me that the Tribe still has another big winning streak in them.