CLEVELAND: Who says the Indians are deficient on the offensive side? You can bet Dan Haren doesn’t think so.
The Tribe’s oft-disparaged batsmen buried the Angels’ starter under a barrage of hits, forcing him out of the game after only 4⅓ innings. Meanwhile, Zach McAllister (almost) acquitted himself admirably again, giving up three earned runs in six innings.
But on this night, the attack was the story, as the Indians prevailed 9-5 at Progressive Field.
Haren was in trouble from the first batter he faced, as Shin-Soo Choo tripled to center field leading off the first and scored on Jason Kipnis’ single.
In the second, singles by Michael Brantley and Casey Kotchman, followed by Shelly Duncan’s sacrifice fly and Jack Hannahan’s double put two more runs on the scoreboard.
Duncan made it 4-0 with his seventh homer of the year in the fourth. The end for Haren came in the fifth, when he gave up doubles to Choo and Jose Lopez wrapped around an intentional walk to Kipnis. Haren was charged with seven runs (six earned) and the Tribe buffeted him around for five extra-base hits.
The Angels’ bullpen calmed the waters until the seventh, when the venerable LaTroy Hawkins gave up a run on singles by Kipnis and Lopez and an RBI forceout by Brantley.
After a 40-minute rain delay interrupted the Angels’ at-bats in the eighth, the Indians rallied for another run on Kotchman’s double and Duncan’s single.
Another rain delay, this one 57 minutes, stopped the game with one out in the ninth.
Duncan led the RBI parade with three and Brantley had two. Lopez was the hit leader with three.
Early in the game, you’d have thought Haren was McAllister and McAllister was Haren. The Angels’ veteran pitched more like a novice than did McAllister, who allowed one base runner in the first four innings.
McAllister has seldom looked lost on the mound, despite his lack of inexperience (10 major-league starts). At least he hadn’t looked ill-prepared for any situation he might face until Hannahan committed an error in the fifth inning that eventually led to five runs, two of which were unearned.
After Alberto Callaspo and Howard Kendrick singled to start the fifth, Erick Aybar lined to Hannahan for the first out. John Hester followed with a guaranteed double-play ball to third. But Hannahan proved that nothing in baseball is guaranteed. He unleashed a throw to second that sailed several feet above and beyond the reach of Kipnis. Callaspo scored, Kendrick landed at third and Hester didn’t stop until he reached second.
So the story of the inning was Hannahan’s bad throw, right? Not entirely.
At that point, McAllister’s role was to “pick up’’ his teammate and get out of the inning without further damage. Instead, he ran the count to 3-and-2 on rookie phenom Mike Trout, who hit the next pitch over the wall in left for a three-run homer, completing the wipeout of the Tribe’s 4-0 advantage.
And there was more grief to come for McAllister, who gave up a two-out home run to Albert Pujols, giving the Angels the lead.
After making one spectacular play after another last year, Hannahan has struggled in 2012. His error Tuesday night was his seventh of the season in 40 starts at third. Last year, he started 88 games at the corner spot and made five errors.
Timing can mean a lot when a player makes an error. That is, many errors come to nothing. No damage is done. But this year, Hannahan’s errors have led to seven unearned runs.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.