If the Cleveland Indians keep winning at this rate, it’s going to be difficult for them to sneak up on anyone.
Mitch Talbot took a shutout into the ninth inning and the Indians got home runs from Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt LaPorta to beat the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 Monday night for their eighth straight win.
”I don’t think anybody expected us to come out like this,” Talbot said. ”But you look down this lineup and it’s pretty good.”
The winning streak is Cleveland’s longest since a 10-game stretch in August 2008. The Indians, coming off a sweep at Seattle, have started 4-0 on the road for the first time since 1998 (6-0). Their 8-2 start is their best since 2002, when they won 12 of their first 13.
”It helps to have a lead and have some margin for error,” Manager Manny Acta said. ”That’s something we didn’t have very often here last year. But we have a better lineup this year and that helps everybody.”
Talbot (1-0) came within three outs of his first shutout, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out four. He was lifted after Bobby Abreu led off the ninth with a double on Talbot’s 112th pitch.
”My biggest thing was locating my fastball down in the zone,” Talbot said. ”It had a little bit of sink, a little bit of run, and I was getting ground balls. Most hitters are going to try to run your pitch count up, and maybe take a pitch here or there, so it always helps to get ahead. It’s a pretty big accomplishment to stick around that long in the game.”
The Angels were quite impressed by what they saw from Talbot. In his only other start against them, he gave up a run over 6-1/3 innings in a 9-2 win at Anaheim on April 27, 2010.
”He was in a zone,” said Angels right fielder Torii Hunter, who didn’t get a ball out of the infield in four at-bats. ”He had all his pitches working — the two-seamer, the cutter, the changeup and the slider. He threw everything at us but the kitchen sink. He had trust in his stuff and threw it at anytime for strikes. When he needed a ground ball and a big out, he got it done. We just couldn’t get him up in the zone to get under the ball and get it to the outfield. We kept hitting it on the ground.”
Vinnie Pestano retired the final three Angels in order.
Angels starter Tyler Chatwood gave up four runs, four hits and four walks in five innings in his major league debut.
”I felt more anxious than nervous, but it was definitely exciting to get out there and just have the opportunity to pitch in Angel Stadium, finally,” Talbot said. ”There was a lot of adrenaline going through me. I felt confident the whole time and just tried to attack the zone and get ahead early in the count. I’m not satisfied with my outing because I didn’t keep my team in the game and we lost. But I’ve just got to learn from it.”
The 21-year-old right-hander was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake when Dan Haren’s scheduled start was pushed back a day. Haren had pitched an inning of relief to get the win in the Angels’ 14-inning, 6-5 victory over Toronto on Saturday night. Chatwood was the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year last season and has just 6-2/3 innings of Triple-A experience.
”He pitched really well, and to finish strong like that really says a lot about him,” catcher Hank Conger said. ”He just battled. I mean, he gave up those two home runs, but he just kept competing and kept attacking the hitters over the last three innings. He’s soaked in a lot of experience, and it’s only going to get better from here. I see a long career for him.”
Cabrera, the Indians’ No. 2 hitter, drove Chatwood’s eighth pitch of the game over the center field fence on a 3-1 count and LaPorta added a three-run shot in the second. Chatwood walked the bases loaded in the fifth and went to 3-2 on Shin-Soo Choo before retiring him on an inning-ending double-play grounder to second base.
”He made good pitches when he had to with that breaking ball and that changeup,” Acta said. ”We probably could have gotten a few more runs, but he made a good pitch on Choo and got himself out of that inning. We thought that was an opportunity for us to break the game open. But he battled and you’ve got to give him credit.”
Angels reliever Scott Downs was activated after opening the season on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken big toe on his left foot and made his Angels debut with a perfect eighth inning. The 35-year-old left-hander signed a three-year, $15 million contract as a free agent in December after spending his first six big league seasons with Toronto.
Notes: Cabrera has four homers, one more than he hit last season in 381 at-bats. He missed two months with a broken left forearm. … Mark Langston threw a ceremonial first pitch on the 21st anniversary of his Angels debut, when he pitched seven innings of a combined no-hitter with Mike Witt against Seattle at the Big A against Seattle. … The Indians’ Class-A Lake County club in the Midwest League got a combined no-hitter Monday night from Trey Haley, Francisco Jimenez and Clayton Elhert against Dayton.