The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 30, 2012

Tribe gets Lowe, Angels don’t

Veteran continues his fine work on bump as Indians win finale, series from LA

CLEVELAND — He came to Cleveland from Atlanta, not Flo Rida. However, so far this season, the Indians have truly gotten Lowe, Lowe Lowe, Lowe, Lowe, Lowe, Lowe, Lowe.

Right-handed veteran Derek Lowe continued his outstanding pitching on Sunday afternoon with a three-hit performance over 72⁄3 innings. It allowed the Tribe to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-0, in the rubber match of the series.

There was only one earned run in the contest, as most of the scoring came with the help of a pair of errors. It capped a weekend in which runs were very difficult to come by at all, as Cleveland outscored Los Angeles (7-15) just 8-4 in the three games combined.

The Indians finish the homestand at 3-3, and hit the road in first place in the AL Central Division by one game, with an 11-9 record.

Lowe, the only Tribe starter to win at home this year, has done it three times, and has been reached for just one earned run in those three games. At 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA, he has two more wins than anyone else on the team.

All the hits against Lowe were singles, and he walked just two batters. Fourteen of the 23 outs he recorded came via ground balls.

Lowe left with a 2-0 lead, after Maicer Izturis’s hit put men at the corners with two outs in the eighth. Vinnie Pestano replaced him, and walked Mike Trout to load the bases, but then struck out Howie Kendrick.

Chris Perez set down the side in order in the ninth, striking out two batters.

When the Angels did hit the ball hard, it was right at someone. The most notable time came in the second inning, when with Kendrys Morales on first with a leadoff single, he took off with the pitch, only to have Torii Hunter line the ball right to Casey Kotchman  at first base. Kotchman easily turned it into a double play.

“Lowe was outstanding,” manager Manny Acta said. “He had terrific command of that sinker. He used it to both sides of the plate. They didn’t do anything but beat the ball into the ground, and that’s a good-hitting team.

“He also had a good slider today. He never left any of them out over the plate. He just ran out of gas a little bit at the end.”

Lowe was pleased with the win, but did come away with one regret.

“I was a little disappointed in the innings,” he said. “I felt like I could have gone the whole distance, and that doesn’t happen very often.”

The last time Lowe, currently 38, worked a complete game, in fact, was in the 2008 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In this one, he cruised through innings four through six with a total of 26 pitches, and had thrown 66 at that point. However, he had hurled 107 when he exited.

The Tribe broke open a scoreless battle between Lowe and Ervin Santana (0-5, 5.58) with the aid of an error that came from an unlikely source.

With two outs in the fifth inning, the Indians had men on first and second base. Asdrubal Cabrera lofted a high fly ball to right-center field. Hunter moved under it for what appeared to be an easy play.

Hunter has won nine consecutive Gold Gloves as an outfielder in the past (2001-2009). But it’s almost impossible to catch what you can’t see. He appeared to lose the ball in the sun as it descended. He shaded his eyes with his glove, but to no avail, and the ball fell, allowing both runners to score.

Though balls that are lost in the sun are typically scored as hits, Hunter was charged with an error, making the runs unearned.

“Today, we got a break,” Acta said. “Everybody needs a break here and there. We put ourselves in the position to take advantage of the break.

“The mighty sun was on our side today, and we’re thankful for it.”

Cleveland tacked on two more runs at the expense of Kevin Jepsen in the eighth, and once again, an error was key.

Travis Hafner started it by beating the shift with a ground single to the left side of the infield. Carlos Santana followed with his third hit, a soft liner over third base.

With men on first and second, Jack Hannahan chopped a bunt that bounced high to the left side. Jepsen fielded it, but his throw to second baseman Izturis, who was covering first, went off Izturis’s glove and past him for a throwing error.  That allowed pinch-runner Jason Donald to come home and Santana to take third.

Shelley Duncan followed with a sacrifice fly, marking the only RBI of the contest.

“A very good series,” Acta said. “I think any time you can take two out of three from a pitching staff like they have, especially the way we’ve been swinging the bat as of late, is great. That means that we’re doing some other thing very good.

“Our pitching matched up with them really good throughout the series.”

Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.

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