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Halos' opener strategy backfires in Cleveland

Trout ties for MLB lead in home runs with 36th blast
August 2, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Mike Trout’s first-inning home run appeared to set the Angels up for a pleasant night in Cleveland. But success for Los Angeles at Progressive Field has been tough to come by in recent years, and Friday night was no different. The Angels squandered the early lead by surrendering

CLEVELAND -- Mike Trout’s first-inning home run appeared to set the Angels up for a pleasant night in Cleveland. But success for Los Angeles at Progressive Field has been tough to come by in recent years, and Friday night was no different.

The Angels squandered the early lead by surrendering seven runs in the first three innings to the Indians’ new-look offense, as Los Angeles fell for the 13th time in its last 14 tries in Cleveland, dropping the series opener, 7-3.

Box score

Overall, the loss extended the Angels’ recent woes, as they’ve dropped six of their past eight after launching out of the All-Star break with a 9-3 mark.

Four of the early runs were charged to the opener, righty Taylor Cole, who managed to record just one out. Those results were atypical for Cole, who entered the night with a 2.94 ERA and 2.74 FIP in 33 2/3 innings.

The Angels entered with a 12-8 record in games started by an opener this year.

“I think it was just one of those days,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Generally, the opener has worked pretty well for us. But every once in a while, it’s going to work out not the way you want it. Today was that day.”

Cole attributed his tough first inning to some control issues. The right-hander fell behind three of the six hitters that he faced, walking one and yielding four hits. Just 12 of the 24 pitches that he threw were strikes.

“I didn’t help our cause at all,” Cole said. “Just didn’t get ahead of guys. I fell behind everybody. It’s hard to pitch that way. Don’t want to read too much into it. I felt the same. It’s just those little things. You’re not going to be successful if you don’t get ahead of hitters. Just got to make that adjustment next time.”

Lefty Dillon Peters, however, followed in the bottom of the first and provided some meaningful length, allowing three runs of his own over 7 2/3 innings. His performance was the longest by an Angels pitcher this season.

“Peters did a great job,” Ausmus said. “He finished the game for us. He came in in the first and finished the game. We couldn’t ask for more from him. He gave up those three runs, but he gave us a chance by not letting them get too far out in front.”

Peters bounced back from some early struggles to scatter eight hits and strike out five. He held the Tribe’s bats scoreless over the final five innings, posting the longest outing of his career.

“It was nice to prove to myself that I could go out there and throw a long outing, just save as many arms as I could as the game went on,” Peters said.

However, their counterpart, Indians starter Mike Clevinger, silenced any thought of a mid-game comeback. The former Angels farmhand worked around four walks and three hits in his one-run, 6 1/3-inning performance. Clevinger struck out eight.

“He’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Ausmus said. “That fastball, 95-97 [mph], with that curveball, it’s a tough combination. And there’s about a 15 mile per hour spread, maybe more, in velocity between his two pitches.”

Clevinger’s only blemish, Trout’s first-inning bomb, was the 16th homer that the Angels’ center fielder has struck this season with an exit velocity of at least 109 mph, the most in the Major Leagues this season, moving ahead of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso.

Overall, Trout’s 36 homers this season are tied for the Major League lead.