Covering the Bases: Game 20
Indians 4, Angels 0
FIRST: Derek Lowe smirked as he leaned against a post near his locker inside the Indians’ clubhouse. A reporter had just mentioned that Angels outfielder Mike Trout was born the same year that Lowe began his professional career. Lowe is never one to miss an opportunity to crack wise with the media.
“You guys said I was going to retire after this year!” Lowe said. “You said this was it!”
Another reporter quipped: “No, we said last year was it.”
“Unbelievable,” Lowe said while laughing. “You’re unbelievable.”
It was all in good fun and why not? Lowe — 38 years young — had just spun 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Angels. It was vintage Lowe. Only one strikeout, but 14 outs created via ground balls. His sinker was on and his slider was sharp, and L.A. looked helpless to do anything but chop pitches into the ground.
So far this season, Lowe has gone 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in five April starts. Yes, I know there are five months to play, but it’s a promising start for Lowe. Especially since, you know, he went 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA in September to finish 9-17 in what many thought might’ve been his last hurrah.
SECOND: Angels outfielder Torii Hunter has made 36 errors in 4,525 career chances. That marks the fewest by any outfielder in Major League history with at least 4,500 total chances on their resume. Of course, one of those errors came on Sunday, it it led to Cleveland’s first two runs.
In the fifth inning, Hunter lost an Asdrubal Cabrera pop-up in the Cleveland sun — I know, who knew such a thing existed in April? — and two runners scored on the play. Asked if he was surprised to see a Gold Glover like Hunter miss the play, Indians manager Manny Acta said, “I wasn’t shocked, I was happy.”
“You can’t beat the sun,” Hunter said. “I’ve been playing this game for a long time. It seems like the sun wins. Whenever you lose the ball in the sun, you can’t defeat God’s light.”
Tip of the cap to the Indians’ defenders, who turned in a strong effort in the infield and dodged any sun-assisted bullets in the outfield. The play that was still being talked about postgame in the Indians clubhouse came in the sixth. Trout line a pitch into right field, where Aaron Cunningham slipped on the play. He recovered in time to snare the ball out of the air for the frame’s final out.
THIRD: How about Vinnie F. Pestano? Acta turned to the righty with the Indians leading 2-0 with runners on the corners for the Angels and two outs in the eighth innings. After walking Trout to load the bases (no harm done), Pestano struck out Howie Kendrick to escape the jam. Pestano has 14 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings so far this season. He’s recorded at least one strikeout in each of his 11 appearances.
HOME: I could do another note on the Indians’ home run drought — which has reached 11 games, 101 innings and 365 at-bats — but I’ll turn my attention to the Angels for the second. Slugger Albert Pujols hasn’t cleared a fence since Sept. 22. His 0-for-4 showing (three groundouts, one strikeout) on Sunday extended his career-worst homerless streak to 117 at-bats (88 with the Angels).
Here’s an opposing viewpoint on Pujols’ early struggles:
“He’s not swinging the same to me,” Lowe said. “This game, I don’t care if you’re a Hall-of-Fame player like he is, confidence is everything in this game. When you start losing it, you start questioning yourself. The only thing that I’ve noticed is he’s swinging at more pitches that he normally doesn’t swing at. I’ve thrown him those same breaking balls before and he just watches them go by. That’s the only thing that I’ve seen over this series, that he’s a little more aggressive that he normally doesn’t swing at.”
After an off-day Monday…
Indians (11-9) at White Sox (11-11)
at 8:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field