CLEVELAND — Home remained as sweet as ever for the Indians on Monday night.
Kicking off an extended stretch at Progressive Field on the heels of a 10-game road trip, Cleveland continued its winning ways at home, turning back the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 in front of 14,716 fans.
It was the 10th straight home victory for the Indians, who lead the majors with a sparkling 22-11 mark at Progressive Field.
“I wish we could play more games at home,” said manager Terry Francona, whose team trails the first-place Tigers by 2½ games in the Central Division standings, and second-place Kansas City by two games. “If we could play maybe 120 at home and 40 on the road, that would be great. I really don’t have an explanation.”
It was easy to explain how Cleveland won its third straight game. The Indians got a solid outing from starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, just enough offense from its inconsistent hitters and a dominating performance from right-hander Carlos Carrasco to finish the game.
Bauer (2-3, 4.20 ERA in seven starts) produced a yeomen’s effort against a formidable lineup, allowing three runs on eight hits and four walks, while striking out six over 6⅔ innings.
He threw a career-high 119 pitches — the most by a Cleveland pitcher this season.
“I thought he competed his rear end off,” Francona said. “I think he executed a lot of pitches. There were some times when he kind of made a few mistakes that they hit, but he held them off the scoreboard and stayed out there long enough.”
Bauer allowed six hitters to reach base in the fourth and fifth innings, but surrendered just a run over the span.
“I would have like to have lasted longer, be more efficient,” said Bauer, who left with the Indians owning a one-run lead in the seventh inning. “I train do be able to do that. It felt good to prove I was still able to handle it. I can go 130, 140, 150, 200, whatever. I’m very used to throwing that many pitches and maintaining my stuff.”
The Indians went to work early on Angels starter Jered Weaver, who entered the night with an 8-3 record and 3.07 ERA in 17 career starts against Cleveland — 0.93 ERA at Progressive Field since 2008.
A leadoff single from Michael Bourn was followed by a home run from Asdrubal Cabrera, who gave the Indians a 2-0 advantage two batters into the game.
Los Angeles tied the game 2-2 in the second on a double from Adam Iannetta, but the Indians retook the lead in the third on a one-out single from Michael Brantley, who left the game for precautionary reasons after sustaining a blow to the head/neck area trying to break up a double play in the third inning.
The Angels tied the game back up in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly from former Indians infielder John McDonald, but Carlos Santana gave Cleveland the lead for good on a solo home run off Weaver in the bottom of the inning.
Santana has begun to pick up steam at the plate, where he hit .343 (12-for-35) with two homers and eight RBIs on the recent 10-game road trek.
“He’s starting to swing it,” Francona said. “I think it was inevitable, because he’s too good of a hitter. He’s starting to get hot. We survived to a point with him really being cold. As he’s getting hotter, it’s really going to help our offense.”
Carrasco saved an overworked bullpen by blanking the Angels on one hit over the final 2⅓ innings, while striking out four.
Francona kept him on the mound for the ninth and Carrasco delivered, retiring Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in order for his first save of the season.
“Carrasco came in and pitched really, really well,” Francona said. “That’s a huge lift for us. I thought Carlos deserved a ton of credit.”
“Carlos did a really good job,” Bauer said. “He threw the ball extremely well. That was impressive. He looked comfortable in that role. He showed a lot.”
Since moving to a relief role, Carrasco has posted a 2.14 ERA over 12 games.
Francona said after the game that Brantley had passed all the initial concussion tests.
“His neck’s a little stiff,” Francona said. “I think the hope is that he’ll wake up and feel good and clear-headed, and then we’ll see how his neck feels.”