video thumbnail

Brantley launches a two-run homer

ANAHEIM -- It didn't take long for the Indians to find themselves in rather trying circumstances on Tuesday night. By the time the first inning was complete, Cleveland was facing the troubling tandem of a four-run deficit and a former Cy Young winner, Angels starter Zack Greinke.

And though the Indians tried valiantly to make the best of the situation, getting to Greinke for four runs in seven innings, they could never quite climb out of that early hole in a 9-6 loss in front of 39,827 at Angel Stadium.

"We put up a fight in the second half of the game," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We had some good at-bats ... put up a fight until the end, but unfortunately we were in a very deep hole."

The victim of that first-inning outburst was Ubaldo Jimenez, who gave up four hits and walked a man before recording an out. By the time the dust settled, the Angels had batted around and Jimenez had hit Howie Kendrick in the head with a pitch, one of 26 thrown that inning.

He would throw 46 more over four innings, and while none of them hit any Angels players, the Halos did hit a few of them. Shortstop Erick Aybar (solo shot) and Albert Pujols (three-run homer) both clubbed homers in the fourth to give the Angels their second four-running frame.

"Ubaldo came out and didn't have very good stuff, especially in that first inning -- too many fat pitches out over the plate, and they hit him around," Acta said.

"I don't even know [what happened]," said Jimenez, who has had an up-and-down first full year with the Indians. "Sometimes I have a good games, sometimes I have a bad game -- definitely have been inconsistent. It's been a really tough year, but I have to keep going, keep working."

Before the Angels knocked around Jimenez for that four-run fourth, Greinke did some hitting of his own.

In the top of the fourth, Greinke hit Indians cleanup man Carlos Santana with a pitch with two out and no men on. Both benches were warned, much to the chagrin of Santana's manager.

"The whole ballpark knew Kendrick wasn't hit on purpose, but the whole ballpark knew that he hit Santana on purpose," Acta said. "Now we're gonna put a warning so we can't retaliate? That's just not fair. ... There's just so much inconsistency in that ruling."

Apparently, "the whole ballpark" didn't include Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

"There was no intent with what Zack was doing," Scioscia said. "[He] wasn't trying to do anything but just get a comeback fastball on the inside to Santana and just pulled it a little bit."

Greinke also denied intent.

"I throw in, just to establish other stuff. I pulled that one a little bit," Greinke said. "People seem to think any time I throw inside I'm hitting guys on purpose. I don't understand it."

Whether the ruling was warranted, Indians center fielder Michael Brantley provided his manager with some consolation, clubbing a two-run homer on the very next pitch to bring his team within two.

But the Angels added their four-run bottom of the fourth and another run in the sixth, again courtesy of Pujols, who upped his RBI total to four on the night with a ringing double to drive in Torii Hunter. Hunter, the No. 2 hitter, and leadoff man Mike Trout joined Pujols in pacing the Angels offense, combining for six hits, five RBIs and six runs scored.

That attack appeared to be more than enough for Greinke, who held the Indians down as his teammates piled on -- that is until the seventh inning.

Sparked by a Brantley leadoff single, three of the first four Indians singled to put Greinke in a bases-loaded, one-out jam. But while left fielder Ezequiel Carrera was able to beat out a chopper for an RBI single, Greinke induced a Jason Kipnis RBI groundout before striking out shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to minimize the damage and maintain a 9-4 lead.

It's a good thing he did, as Cleveland wasn't quite done. Greinke handed the ball to LaTroy Hawkins, who got two quick outs in the eighth before Brantley singled again. That set up Casey Kotchman, who clubbed a two-run homer to right that pulled Cleveland within three.

But that's where the comeback ended, as Angels closer Ernesto Frieri worked a perfect ninth for his 14th save. Still, despite the ominous start, the Indians certainly made a run at turning the tables on the Angels.

"It's hard to win a ballgame at this level, and it's even harder to come back from a 4-0 lead, but you still have to go out there and fight," Acta said. "These guys did. It's just not every day you can come back from a [six-run] deficit."

MLB.com Comments