Kendrick gives Indians the short shrift
Surprise bunt plates game-winner in bottom of the ninth
ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia had been tossed out seven innings earlier, so it was on bench coach Ron Roenicke to give the word.
Then it was on Howard Kendrick to get the bunt down.
Kendrick perfectly executed a two-out, ninth-inning push bunt in between the mound and first base on the first pitch he saw from Indians closer Chris Perez on Wednesday night to score Torii Hunter from third and give the Angels a 4-3 win.
The Angels (12-11) begin a 10-game road trip on Friday, having gone 6-4 on their 10-game homestand.
"Rags was just like, 'Hey, if he's back, take a look at it, and I was looking at the infield and they were all back," said Kendrick of Roenicke after his second career walk-off hit. "Right there I had it in my mind, first pitch, he's probably going to throw a strike there in that situation and I already had it set in my mind I was going to try to bunt."
Brian Fuentes (1-1) earned the win after working a scoreless top of the ninth.
Hunter started the winning rally with a controversial double into the right-field corner. Hunter, 3-for-4 with a three-run homer that tied the score in the sixth, said he had been told of Kendrick's plan, and also hinted he knew he never should've been standing on third base to begin with.
Replays showed Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who threw out Hideki Matsui on Tuesday night, got the ball in time to second base and that Hunter was tagged as he slid feet-first. Second-base umpire Paul Schrieber ruled Hunter safe.
"I'm not going to answer that," Hunter said with an eye roll. "He said I was safe, so I was safe."
After an intentional walk to Matsui, Hunter moved to third base on Kendry Morales' double-play grounder. Juan Rivera was walked intentionally before Perez was brought in to face Kendrick. Kendrick, 1-for-4, said he wasn't even considering which direction he'd bunt the ball, he just wanted a pitch he could handle.
"You want the ball out over the plate even if you're going to bunt to third," Kendrick said. "It was just a little more out over the plate, so it was just easier to go with it than to just try to pull it, because if I had tried to pull it I might've pulled it right back to him."
Kendrick's maneuver didn't sit well, though, with Perez, who threw just one pitch and was the third Indians pitcher used in the inning. Joe Smith took the loss in his first decision of the year.
"It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out," Perez said. "I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt. It was a stupid play that just happened to work."
Hunter connected for his second homer of the season to left-center off Indians starter Jake Westbrook in the bottom of the sixth inning. Both Westbrook and Ervin Santana looked dominant at times, aided by the shadows of a 4:05 p.m. PT start.
Santana had a season-high eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, which moved him into 10th on the team's career strikeout list, ahead of Kirk McCaskill. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks.
Santana struck out five in a row over the fourth and fifth innings but faltered only in a two-run sixth that put Cleveland ahead 3-0. One run scored on a bases loaded, 0-2 pitch in the dirt that hit Travis Hafner, batting .190, in his back leg. Santana was frustrated with himself on the mound.
"I didn't get a good view of it," joked Scioscia, who had already been ejected. "I think there was probably a little emotion there. Inside Ervin competes. He knows his talent, knows how important it is to us and he just yanked a slider and hit Hafner in the leg. He was frustrated."
Scioscia was tossed out of the game in the bottom of the second inning, when the Angels trailed 1-0. Third-base umpire Rob Drake ruled Matsui swung at an 0-1 pitch inside and in the dirt. After the win, Scioscia said he hadn't seen a call like that in 35 years.
"I've seen a lot of baseball, I've never seen anything like what happened with Hideki interpreted as a swing," said Scioscia, who has been ejected 25 times as a big league manager. "He's trying to get his way out of the ball, trying to keep his balance and somehow third-base umpire Rob Drake construed that as a swing. That call was mindboggling."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.