Angels outslug Indians 14-11 with 19-hit attack
Jeff Mathis had four hits with a career-high six RBIs, including his first grand slam in the majors, and Casey Kotchman had a career-best five hits for the AL West leaders in a 14-11 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
“Everybody came out swinging today and we were making solid contact,” said Howie Kendrick, who had four hits and drove in three runs. “It seemed like we had runners in scoring position all day. We were getting pitches out over the plate to hit, and guys weren’t missing. Our pitchers have been carrying us for a while, but it looks like our bats are waking up a little bit.”
The Angels padded their AL West lead to 10 games over Oakland with a season-high 19-hit attack. Kendrick equaled a franchise record with three doubles and raised his average to .341.
“Right now I’m just feeling good and trying to ride it out,” said the Angels’ second baseman, who returned to the lineup on May 30 after missing 42 games with a strained left hamstring.
“When you’re coming back off an injury, you’ve just got to see pitches and get that confidence back. I’m feeling very good in the box right now, I’m seeing the ball pretty well and I think I’m being a little more patient. And whenever you do that, guys have to throw you strikes. So you’ll get pitches to hit.”
It was the first time in Angels history that three players each had four or more hits in the same game. Mathis added a two-run double in the sixth and Kendrick capped the Angels’ scoring binge with a two-run single in the seventh.
“Nobody had been really hot yet for us, so you figured it was just a matter of time until things clicked,” said Gary Matthews Jr., who had two RBIs. “Our pitching has been so good this year, and now we’re finally starting to swing the bats the way we’re capable of.”
Kotchman, the son of longtime Angels scout and minor league manager Tom Kotchman, raised his average to .289. He is third on the club with 48 RBIs and leads the Angels with 24 doubles.
“Kotch has been great for us all year,” Lackey said. “He’s a smart hitter and he’s been around the game forever because of his dad, so he really understands situations. And I think that helps him a lot.”
Lackey (8-2) allowed six runs and eight hits over five innings, but was able to call it quits with a 10-6 lead after his teammates scored five runs in the fifth. The six runs were the most allowed by the right-hander in any of his 77 career victories.
Lackey is 2-1 with a 7.60 ERA in his last four starts, after allowing no more than two earned runs in eight of his previous nine outings this season. He threw 32 of his 99 pitches during Cleveland’s two-run first.
“He obviously didn’t have his best stuff today, but he kept battling through it,” Mathis said of his batterymate. “He got through five today, and luckily we were able to put some runs on the board for him. It’s always nice when you can help your pitcher out.”
“We fought hard, we just didn’t win,” Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore said. “It’s not a wasted effort, but it’s still not what we wanted as far as the outcome.”
Aaron Laffey (5-7) pitched four-plus innings, allowing eight runs and 12 hits. The Indians had a 6-5 lead when the left-hander departed with the bases loaded and none out in the fifth.
“His stuff was a little bit better, but he was still erratic,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He was working from behind, and when he does come in, he hasn’t shown the command that he used to show to throw a quality strike and get guys out. He’s got some work to do.”
Tom Mastny, making his first appearance since July 13, relieved Laffey and forced in the tying run with a walk to Matthews. Mathis drove the right-hander’s next pitch to left-center for his eighth homer of the season and second in two days.
“Tom hadn’t been out there in a while, but that’s the role he’s in right now and he just didn’t have it today,” Wedge said.
Mathis’ grand slam was the 10th given up by the Cleveland staff, the most in the majors, and the most by the Indians in one season since the club began keeping track in 1951.
Ryan Garko hit a two-run homer that gave Cleveland a 4-2 lead in the fourth. He added a two-run single in the eighth that cut the Angels’ lead to 14-10. Sizemore added his 25th home run, one more than he had in 162 games last year.
The Angels’ 10-game margin is their largest since Aug. 16, 1995, when they had a 10 1/2 -game cushion. … The 19 hits allowed by the Indians were a season high. … The Angels’ pitching staff has held opponents’ pinch-hitters to only three hits in 55 at-bats this season. … Dellucci, Asdrubal Cabrera and Ben Francisco were hit by pitches. The Indians have been plunked a major league-high 63 times. Last season, opposing pitchers hit 80 Cleveland batters to set a franchise record.