CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona emerged from the home dugout and motioned with his left hand, summoning veteran Oliver Perez from the bullpen. In a game already dominated by Angels star Shohei Ohtani, Cleveland had things aligned well for a critical eighth inning.
Maybe on paper it was the ideal matchup, but Ohtani defied the splits and continued to torment the Tribe, igniting one last rally that sent the Indians to a 7-4 defeat at Progressive Field on Friday night. After Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger allowed two Ohtani blasts, the bullpen was unable to stop him in a decisive four-run eighth.
"We had kind of got what we wanted," Francona said of his team's matchups in the eighth.
The turning point arrived after righty Neil Ramirez struck out Justin Upton to open the frame. At that juncture, Francona called upon Perez, who had limited left-handed batters to a .162 average (.428 OPS) this season. Ohtani has overpowered righties, but his production against left-handers included a .170 average and .500 OPS, entering Friday.
Perez fired a 1-0 sinker high and tight, and Ohtani slashed it into left field for a single. Francona -- playing the matchup game with his bullpen -- then handed the ball to right-handed sidearmer Adam Cimber. On Cimber's first pitch to Jose Pujols, Ohtani was off and running for second base. Catcher Roberto Perez lost his grip on the ball on the transfer and the Angels' designated hitter had a stolen base.
"With Shohei being aggressive, that's a big run at the time," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Obviously it set the table for a bigger inning, which we needed. Every little bit in that inning was big. … You don't get to their bullpen often, but we did tonight."
The inning spiraled from there on for the Indians.
With two outs and runners on the corners, David Fletcher flared a pitch from Cimber down the right-field line for a fluky ground-rule double that put the Indians behind, 4-3. After an intentional walk to load the bases, Jose Briceno sent a dribbler up the third-base line for an infield single, scoring another run. Eric Young then crushed a pitch off the wall in center for a two-run double, helping the Angels pull away.
"Cimber, I thought he deserved better," Francona said. "The ball hits the right-field chalk line, swinging bunt, mixed in a couple intentional walks to get the right matchups and it ended up being a big inning. That obviously hurt our chances."
Angels starter Jaime Barria picked up a no-decision after allowing three runs on six hits in five innings. The right-hander struggled the first time through Cleveland's lineup, which struck for two quick runs in the first inning.
Francisco Lindor led off with a walk and then sprinted home when Michael Brantley followed with a double that dropped beyond the reach of Young in deep center field. One batter later, Jose Ramirez pulled a pitch into right to plate Brantley and pull the game even, 2-2.
Leonys Martin, playing in his first home game with the Indians after being acquired via trade from the Tigers on Tuesday, added an RBI single in the second and a solo homer in the ninth.
"He's going to help us a bunch," Francona said.
That was all the offense managed by the Tribe, which was not enough in light of the first four-hit game of Ohtani's career.
Ohtani began his onslaught in the first inning with an opposite-field, two-run homer off Clevinger. In the third, Ohtani went yard again -- this time to right-center -- for his 11th home run of the season and fourth against Cleveland. With his four hits, Ohtani is now batting .643 (9-for-14) against the Tribe this year.
"Both pitches were pretty poorly executed," Clevinger said. "I mean, he's got tremendous power -- don't get me wrong. I still think if I executed like my third at-bat against him [when Ohtani grounded out], he's not peppering the ball like he did in his first two.
"The first one was inside and he still put it the other way, so that's pretty impressive on his part."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Miller Time: With the score tied in a 3-3 deadlock, Andrew Miller (activated from the disabled list prior to the game) took the mound in the seventh for his first outing for the Tribe since May 25. As Miller entered, flames shot out from behind the center-field wall and the Cleveland crowd offered a standing ovation. The lefty worked around a walk and a wild pitch, logging a scoreless inning that featured one strikeout.
"It was nice to get out there and get one under my belt," Miller said. "I wasn't nearly as crisp as I was the last couple of outings [at Triple-A]. It's probably expected. It's a process. It will come. But, it was nice to have a scoreless inning and be back with these guys and hopefully contribute."
Ohtani owns Tribe: The Angels' Japanese superstar has collected a lot of Major League firsts against the Indians. Ohtani's first career homer was on April 3 against the Tribe. His first shot off Clevinger on Friday marked his first career home run on the road. Then, when the designated hitter crushed a Clevinger pitch to deep right-center, he notched his first career multihomer game. Per Statcast™, the second long ball had a 110.7-mph exit velocity and traveled a projected 443 feet.
GOMES EXITS EARLY
All-Star catcher Yan Gomes doubled and scored in the second inning, but he was wincing around the bases and grabbed at his right knee at one point. After initially remaining in the game, Gomes was lifted in favor of Roberto Perez in the bottom of the fourth. The Indians announced that Gomes was pulled as a precaution due to posterior right knee discomfort.
"He just had discomfort behind his right knee," Francona said after the loss. "So, we're [sending him to get an MRI exam] right now, just to see exactly what's going on there. We should know more [soon]."
Ramirez struck out swinging three times against the Angels on Friday. The All-Star third baseman has only fanned thrice in a game six times in his 591 career MLB games. This marked only the third time all three were swinging. The other instances were on April 28, 2017, and Sept. 1, 2014. Ramirez has never struck out four times in a game.
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, obviously, it's frustrating. I've got to stay on it, though. I've got to make a little bit better pitch to Eric Young Jr. And then you've got to try to minimize in situations like that. I'll just try to do a better job my next time out." -- Cimber, on the eighth inning
Corey Kluber (13-6, 2.79 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe on Saturday when the Indians play host to the Angels in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Kluber currently has the third-lowest home ERA (2.24) in the American League this season. Los Angeles will counter with righty Felix Pena (1-2, 5.23 ERA).