Encarnacion’s inside-park HR highlights Indians’ 6-0 win
”I knew he had wheels, but …” starter Mike Clevinger said with a laugh. ”You see something new every day.”
Encarnacion hit his second career inside-the-park homer and Tyler Naquin and Yonder Alonso cleared the fences for the Indians, who beat Los Angeles 6-0 Monday night to spoil the Angels‘ home opener and snap their three-game win streak.
Encarnacion hit a high fly ball off JC Ramirez that left fielder Justin Upton tracked into the corner with one out in the second inning. The ball hit the yellow line on the padding below the foul pole and caromed several feet away from Upton, coming to a stop on the warning track.
Upton leaned over the short fence for just a moment, apparently thinking the ball had landed foul. By the time Upton chased it down and threw it in, the 230-pound Encarnacion was steaming around third base on his way to scoring standing up.
Encarnacion also hit an inside-the-park homer on Aug. 31, 2007, against St. Louis while with the Cincinnati Reds, back when he was 24. He homered twice Sunday in a loss at Seattle.
How did this one feel?
”I was too tired,” he said. ”I just see the ball and when the ball go away from Upton, I said in my mind, `I’ve got to make it to the plate.’ It was a lot of running. But I like it. It’s good.”
The most recent inside-the-park homer by the Indians was Naquin’s remarkable game-ending hit on Aug. 19, 2016, against Toronto.
”That’s a lot of praise for Edwin,” Naquin said. ”That man’s hit a lot of homers. It’s not easy to get an inside-the-park home run, so that obviously says Eddie’s running hard. He plays the game the right way and he showed up. You’re either going to have a triple or a homer in the books. Doesn’t matter how you get it.”
Encarnacion was welcomed back to the dugout with high-fives and a teammate fanning him off with a towel.
”It was fun. Everybody was laughing about it. Everybody enjoyed it. That’s good,” he said.
”I ran after the ball and I braced myself on the wall, had no clue the ball was fair, couldn’t hear anything,” Upton said. ”(Mike) Trout was yelling but I couldn’t hear anything, so it was an inside-the-park home run.
”I thought it was going to either hit in the stands or I was going to have a chance to catch it. The wind just swirls in the stadium. That’s just how it goes. Most balls that go foul end up drifting back a little bit. That one just came back more than usual.”
Clevinger (1-0), a former Angels farmhand, scattered four hits and struck out five in 5 1/3 innings in his season debut.
Shohei Ohtani, the Angels’ two-way star from Japan, had the night off after his impressive pitching debut on Sunday, when he threw three-hit ball over six innings in a 7-4 victory at Oakland. Ohtani made his hitting debut as the designated hitter on opening day, collecting his first big league hit on his first swing.
The Indians homered twice off Ramirez in the fourth. Alonso hit a leadoff shot to right, his second, and Naquin belted a two-run drive to right-center with two outs, his first.
Ramirez (0-1) allowed five runs, four earned, in five innings in his season debut. Manager Mike Scioscia said he had a little crack in one of his fingernails.
”It’s always good fun,” Clevinger said of facing the Angels. He was drafted by Los Angeles in 2011 and missed most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons after having reconstructive elbow surgery. He was traded to Cleveland in 2014 and made his big league debut in 2016. ”I came up there and know a lot of people there and always want to leave a good impression. I try to use my emotions to my advantage.”
Scioscia said Ohtani will DH on Tuesday night. The Japanese star ”feels good,” after Sunday’s start, Scioscia said.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin will make his season debut on eight days’ rest after making his final spring start on March 25.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (0-0, 7.20 ERA) makes his second start after not factoring in the decision in an opening-day loss at Oakland.