Indians go for fifth straight win in opener vs. Angels (Jul 25, 2017)
CLEVELAND -- The streaky Cleveland Indians will try to extend a four-game winning streak Tuesday night when they host the Los Angeles Angels in the opener of a three-game series.
Coming out of the All-Star break, the Indians went to the West Coast, where they lost five of six games to two last-place teams, the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants.
The Indians (52-45) then came home, and they have won four in a row by a combined margin of 29-7. After sweeping three from the Toronto Blue Jays, Carlos Santana homered twice in a 6-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds during a makeup game on Monday.
The Indians are now 25-24 at Progressive Field, the first time this season they have had a winning record at home since they won their home opener on April 11.
Cleveland players are aware that they must be more consistent in the second half of the season in order to take control of the American League Central.
Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said the players put the dismal West Coast trip behind them.
"You've got to have a short memory," Tomlin said. "Baseball is a game of failure. We understand what that trip was and that we've got to be better than that. We need to keep playing like we're capable of playing."
The Angels (49-51) are beginning a six-game road trip to Cleveland and Toronto, following an eight-game homestand against Tampa Bay, Washington and Boston in which they went 4-4.
Every series is important for the Angels, who are a distant second to Houston in the AL West but are still a player in the AL wild-card race. Los Angeles is three games behind the Kansas City Royals in the chase for the second wild card.
The Angels are doing it with seven pitchers currently on the disabled list and leadoff man Cameron Maybin also sidelined due to a knee injury.
"We have a couple injuries to our pitchers, Maybin, but we're still grinding," shortstop Andrelton Simmons told MLB.com. "We're still in the fight. We have to keep doing it every day and take away as many games as we can."
Right-hander Mike Clevinger, who will start for Cleveland on Tuesday, has been the Indians' second-best starter over the last month after ace Corey Kluber.
Clevinger (5-3, 2.73 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Columbus in May to replace an injured Kluber in the rotation. Clevinger pitched so well that when Kluber returned from the DL, he stayed in the rotation.
In his past six starts, Clevinger is 3-0 with a 1.36 ERA and a .196 opponents' batting average. Clevinger has averaged 9.5 strikeouts and 4.9 hits per nine innings in that span.
Making his start Tuesday even more significant is that Clevinger will be facing the team that originally drafted him. The Angels selected him in the fourth round in June 2011. He was traded to Cleveland in 2014 for reliever Vinnie Pestano.
Clevinger has made one start against the Angels, on Aug. 13, 2016, when he was the winning pitcher in a 5-1 Indians victory. In that game, he pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run on one hit with three strikeouts and four walks.
Jesse Chavez (5-10, 4.88) starts Tuesday for the Angels.
Chavez has struggled of late. His last win came on June 6. In seven starts since, he is 0-4 with a 5.50 ERA. However, he pitched effectively in his most recent outing, July 18 against the Nationals, when he yielded two runs in six innings during a no-decision.
In his career, Chavez has made 12 appearances against the Indians, only one of them a start. In those 12 games, he is 1-1 with a 5.95 ERA.