CLEVELAND – Shelley Duncan won his second game in a week for the Indians, only this time it didn’t take two home runs to do it – far from it.
Duncan’s ground ball with two outs in the 11th inning Thursday night was botched by Angels third baseman Albert Callaspo, allowing Duncan to reach and Trevor Crowe to score from third with the winning run in Cleveland’s 3-2 victory.
Callaspo charged the chopper from Duncan and was able to field the ball, but dropped it on the transfer and was charged with an error, a gift the Indians were more than willing to accept.
“It was a rainy night. The grass is wet,” said Duncan of the conditions in a rain-filled game that had its start delayed by nine minutes. “That was Plan C right there.”
The celebration followed a deflating 10th inning that saw the Indians load the bases but fail to score when Jordan Brown bounced into a rally-killing double play.
“It was a bizarre ending but we’ll take it,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta. “That’s baseball. That’s why I think it’s the greatest game in the world. You can’t get it done with the bases loaded and one out, but you end up winning it on a broken-bat single or error, whatever they called it, with two outs and a runner on third base.”
Both teams got quality efforts from their starting pitchers, Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona allowing two runs on four hits and striking out eight over seven innings, while Los Angeles’ Ervin Santana allowed the same on four hits over eight innings.
Carmona shut the Angels out on two hits over the first six innings before a pair of solo home runs from Hideki Matsui and Mike Napoli tied the game at two in the seventh and ended the right-hander’s consecutive scoreless innings streak at 22.
“He threw the ball well again,” Acta said of Carmona, who entered the night with consecutive complete-game efforts in his previous two outings. “Our bullpen did their part, too. They kept us in the game until we were able to score.”
An adjustment on his change-up has paid huge dividends for Carmona, who is in the midst of his most effective stretch of the season, posting a 1.13 ERA over his last three starts.
“The grip on the change-up and the speed differential on his fastball and change-up have really helped,” Acta said. “He’s pounding the strike zone.”
Carmona’s consecutive scoreless innings streak equals his career high and is the longest by an Indians pitcher since Cliff Lee tossed 27 straight scoreless innings during his Cy Young season in 2008. It is the second-longest streak in the American League this year.
Carmona contributed mightily to the Indians’ 13 strikeouts on the night, which equaled Cleveland’s season-high in the department.
The Angels began their top of the 11th inning with a leadoff single from Bobby Abreu off Indians reliever Rafael Perez. But Perez erased Abreu on a double-play ball from Torii Hunter before getting Matsui to ground out to end the inning.
Cleveland’s 11th began with Jayson Nix grounding out against Angels reliever Bobby Cassevah before Crowe sliced a double to left field and was advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Asdrubal Cabrera. Callaspo’s error followed to give the Indians the win.
Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in his final at-bat in the 10th. The streak is the longest by a Cleveland rookie since Cory Snyder’s 17-game streak in 1987 and the longest by an Indians player since Ryan Garko hit in 17 straight in 2007.
The Indians went 5-4 against the Angels this year, winning the season series for the first time since 2004.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or email@example.com.