Puig, Clevinger lead Indians to 7-3 victory over Angels
By STEVE HERRICK Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona knows Yasiel Puig’s presence brings an extra buzz to the ballpark.
“If I was a fan that would be one of the guys, if I was hungry I’d wait until he hit because you want to see what he’s going to do,” Francona said.
Puig, acquired from Cincinnati in a blockbuster trade Wednesday, showed his assortment of skills in Friday night’s 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels
He drove in his first two runs for Cleveland with RBI singles in the first and second, helping Cleveland take an early 6-1 lead. He also scored from third base on a ground ball with a head-first slide.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound right fielder also showed off his defensive ability. He made a leaping catch on the warning track of Andrelton Simmons’ line drive in the fourth and ran down Kole Calhoun’s fly ball in the corner in the eighth.
“He plays with a lot of passion,” Francona said. “He gets down the line. He went and got the ball in the corner.”
Puig is 3 for 7 in two games for the Indians and has instantly become a fan favorite. The crowd of 28,386 gave him a loud ovation before each at-bat and chanted his name on several occasions.
“You’re always waiting to see how far the ball’s going to go or how hard it’s going to come off his bat,” said Indians starter Mike Clevinger, who won his fifth consecutive decision.
Clevinger (6-2) gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings — a solo homer to Mike Trout in the first. The blast was Trout’s 36th of the season and moved him into a tie for the major league lead with Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich.
The right-hander allowed three hits and struck out eight. Clevinger is 4-0 in six career starts against the Angels, who traded him to the Indians in 2014 when he was pitching in the minors.
Trout doubled off in the third off Clevinger, who bounced back from a 3-0 count to strike out the Angels star in the sixth.
“He’s the best player I’ve ever seen,” Clevinger said. “He’s potentially the best player to ever suit up.”
Puig, Carlos Santana, José Ramírez and Jason Kipnis drove first-inning runs when Cleveland scored four times. Santana and Puig had RBIs in the second.
Roberto Perez hit his 19th home run of the season in the third.
The first five batters reached against Taylor Cole (1-2), who made his fifth start of the season in 25 appearances. The right-hander allowed four runs and retired one batter before being replaced by Dillon Peters.
The Angels have dropped six of eight.
“It was one of those days,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Generally the opener has worked pretty well for us but every once in a while it’s going to not work out.”
Francisco Lindor walked and Oscar Mercado followed with a single in the first. Santana’s single made it 1-0 and Puig’s line single to left scored Mercado.
Ramírez’s double scored Santana and Puig scored when first baseman Albert Pujols bobbled Kipnis’ grounder and couldn’t make a throw.
Santana had a sacrifice fly in the second before Puig’s single through the right side scored another run.
Francona returned Friday, a day after missing a game because of surgery for a tear in his retina.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (sore shoulder) threw about 30 pitches in a bullpen session.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (strained right groin) returned to the injured list, one day after appearing in his first game in two years after battling arm troubles. Salazar allowed two solo home runs in four innings and topped out at 88 mph … LHP Tyler Olson (shingles) was placed on the 10-day IL.
Catcher Max Stassi, acquired from Houston on Wednesday, started after Jonathan Lucroy was designated for assignment. Lucroy returned from a concussion and broken nose Wednesday following a home plate collision last month.
“When you have to give bad news to good people that you like it’s not a lot of fun,” Ausmus said.
Lucroy missed 18 games after a collision at home plate with Houston’s Jake Marisnick on July 7. Lucroy batted .242 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 74 games.
Angels: Los Angeles didn’t announce Saturday’s starter. RHP Félix Peña (8-3, 4.66 ERA) will follow that pitcher.
Indians: RHP Adam Plutko (3-2, 4.83 ERA) will make his first career appearance against the Angels.