ANAHEIM -- Justin Upton clung to the short wall in left field as the deep fly ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion caromed off the yellow foul line and rolled toward center field. Certain the ball was foul, Upton felt no urgency to pursue it. The assumption proved inaccurate
ANAHEIM -- Justin Upton clung to the short wall in left field as the deep fly ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion caromed off the yellow foul line and rolled toward center field. Certain the ball was foul, Upton felt no urgency to pursue it. The assumption proved inaccurate and costly.
By the time Upton retrieved the ball and overthrew his cutoff man, the 35-year-old Encarnacion had completed his fortuitous trip around the bases, authoring the first inside-the-park home run against the Angels since 2009 and giving the Indians an early lead they would never relinquish in a 6-0 Cleveland victory.
"I ran after the ball, and I braced myself on the wall," Upton said. "I had no clue the ball was fair. I couldn't hear anything, so it was an inside-the-park home run."
Said Encarnacion: "I'm still tired."
The Angels' vaunted defense faltered twice Monday night, while their offense was stifled by old friend Mike Clevinger, culminating in a loss that dampened the festivities of Opening Night at Angel Stadium.
"There were a couple plays that we didn't make and kind of put us behind the eight-ball," manager Mike Scioscia said.
The Angels (3-2) have now dropped 12 straight and 16 of their last 17 games to the Indians, matching their longest losing streak in club history against one team. They also lost 12 consecutive games to Baltimore from 1979-80 and to Kansas City in 1975.
Aside from Upton's misplay in the second inning, the Indians also scored on an error by Martin Maldonado in the third and padded their lead after Yonder Alonso and Tyler Naquin launched home runs off right-hander JC Ramirez in a three-run fourth.
Ramirez took the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits over 4 2/3 innings in his season debut. The 29-year-old cracked the nail of his right index finger while throwing a curveball Monday, which Scioscia said likely hampered his performance.
"When push came to shove, he made some mistakes to some good hitters, and those guys hit the ball hard at times," Scioscia said. "I don't think it was as bad as maybe his line score is going to show, but he didn't maintain his stuff, especially after he got a little crack in his nail."
Clevinger, a former Angels prospect who was dealt to Cleveland for reliever Vinnie Pestano in 2014, shut out his former organization over 5 1/3 innings, yielding four hits while walking two and striking out five. The Angels tallied only six hits against Cleveland's pitching staff and did not advance a runner past second base.
"It's good fun," said Clevinger, who improved to 3-0 with a 2.95 ERA in four starts against the Angels. "I came up there. I know a lot of people over there. I try to use emotion to my advantage."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Maldonado's rare defensive hiccup: One inning after Encarnacion's fluke home run, the Indians used another defensive breakdown from the Angels to extend their lead to 2-0. After reaching on an infield single, Bradley Zimmer stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball by Maldonado, the Angels' Gold Glove Award-winning catcher. Maldonado corralled the ball and tried to throw to third to nab Zimmer, but his throw went wide of Luis Valbuena, allowing Zimmer to score.
Alonso, Naquin go deep: Alonso led off the fourth by crushing a first-pitch slider 407 feet to right field for his second home run of the season. After Lonnie Chisenhall singled, Naquin launched a two-run shot -- his first of the year -- off Ramirez to put the Indians ahead 5-0.
"Two pitches that I missed in the middle," Ramirez said. "Two home runs. I think that was the game for me. I couldn't keep it close enough to where we could make a comeback."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time the Angels allowed an inside-the-park home run was Sept. 12, 2009, when Scott Podsednik of the White Sox accomplished the feat against Ervin Santana.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Andrelton Simmons, who finished 2-for-4, extended his hitting streak to five games after singling in the second inning and then dodged a pickoff attempt by Indians catcher Yan Gomes with a feet-first slide back into first base during an at-bat by Jefry Marte. The Indians challenged the call, but a replay review determined the ruling stands.
Garrett Richards will make his second start of the season Tuesday as the Angels continue their three-game series with the Indians at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Richards gave up four runs over five innings in the Angels' Opening Day loss to the A's on Thursday. The 29-year-old right-hander is 1-0 with a 4.40 ERA in two previous starts against the Indians. Shohei Ohtani is also expected to return to the lineup as the Angels' designated hitter.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.