CLEVELAND -- The Angels used a mix of timely hitting, strong defense and solid pitching to erase a seven-run deficit and claw back into Tuesday night's series opener against the Indians at Progressive Field. They pushed the reigning American League champions to 11 innings before Edwin Encarnacion ended the four-hour
CLEVELAND -- The Angels used a mix of timely hitting, strong defense and solid pitching to erase a seven-run deficit and claw back into Tuesday night's series opener against the Indians at Progressive Field. They pushed the reigning American League champions to 11 innings before Edwin Encarnacion ended the four-hour affair with a walk-off grand slam off Bud Norris, lifting Cleveland to an 11-7 victory.
Though Norris faltered at the end, the Angels were also hampered from the beginning by right-hander Jesse Chavez, who surrendered seven runs over 2 1/3 innings in his worst outing of the season. Chavez gave up a pair of doubles, four walks, a grand slam and a solo home run in a disastrous second inning, allowing the Indians to build an early 7-0 lead.
"Today was a case of the walks," Chavez said. "Walks killed me today. Shortened up the outing a lot and took pitches away from innings we could have used today. The walks, and then you have to come over the plate at some point without walking more guys, and when I came over the plate, they did damage."
Entering Tuesday, Chavez had allowed at least five runs in five starts this season, though the Angels had often managed to pick him up, going 3-1 over those last four outings. While the Halos fought back to make it interesting against the Indians, they ultimately fell short in their quest to bail out the 33-year-old veteran.
"Coming out of that [second] inning, I'm just thinking of how much I pigeonholed us," Chavez said. "I put us in a bad position to succeed, in a way. First game of a road trip, you never want to do that."
With the loss, the Angels fell to 49-52 and dropped four games back of the second American League Wild Card spot with five games left to play before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. That stretch has the potential to define the Halos' season, and they'll have to get through it behind a rotation that has struggled to deliver consistent success after being thinned by injuries this year.
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Rookie right-hander Parker Bridwell (3.09 ERA) has been a revelation since the Angels acquired him from the Orioles in April, but the Halos have received uneven results from Chavez (5.35 ERA), Ricky Nolasco (5.13 ERA) and JC Ramirez (4.38 ERA). But with Garrett Richards, Matthew Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs, Alex Meyer, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano on the disabled list, the Angels don't have many other viable in-house options to turn to right now.
Skaggs is the closest to a return and could rejoin the Angels' rotation by early August, though it remains to be seen if a Wild Card berth will still be within reach for the Halos at that point.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.