ANAHEIM — For the last two seasons, the Angels have struggled to solve the Indians. After dropping Tuesday night’s series opener at Angel Stadium, 6-3, the Angels have now lost nine in a row to the Tribe, their longest active skid against any team in the Majors.
The defeat served as a glimpse at the challenging road that lies ahead for the Halos. The Indians, who reeled off an American League-record 22 wins and clinched their division title last week, represent a potential first-round opponent for the Angels, if they’re able to secure an AL Wild Card berth and advance past the one-game playoff to the AL Division Series.
Tuesday’s loss prevented them from taking a step toward their goal, as they were unable to capitalize on the Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Yankees and remain 1 1/2 games out of the second AL Wild Card spot with 13 games left on the schedule.
“They took it to us,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of the Indians. “We haven’t played well in Cleveland. They played us well everywhere. They’re a good club. I thought right now we match up with them better than we did maybe at points last year, or the first series we went to Cleveland, but give them credit, they did a good job on the mound.”
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings, but he was bested by former Angels farmhand Mike Clevinger. Three years ago, the Angels traded Clevinger to the Indians in exchange for reliever Vinnie Pestano, and the 26-year-old right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the fifth en route to firing six innings of one-run ball for Cleveland.
The Angels mustered few scoring opportunities until the eighth, when C.J. Cron, Ben Revere and Brandon Phillips produced three consecutive singles off Bryan Shaw to cut the deficit to 3-2. That brought up reigning AL MVP Mike Trout with runners on the corners and two outs. Trout followed by scorching a 110-mph grounder, but Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez fielded it on one hop and threw to first for the final out of the inning.
“Can’t do nothing,” Trout said. “I put a good swing on it. It just didn’t go through.”
In the top of the ninth, the Indians came back to score three runs off Bud Norris, extending their lead to 6-2 and putting the game out of reach for the Angels.
“They’re a hot team,” Skaggs said. “They hit some good pitches. They got the breaks.”
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.