Bradley Zimmer isn’t playing like someone who wasn’t called up from the minors until May 16.
In fact, the rookie center fielder is a big reason why the Cleveland Indians are playing their best baseball of the season.
Zimmer hit a home run on the game’s second pitch and drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning double and Cleveland matched a season high with their sixth straight win, 10-4 over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
Zimmer’s two-out double off the wall in left-center against Ricky Nolasco (4-12) broke a 2-all tie.
“It’s a great feeling, obviously for me, but for the team and momentum moving forward it’s even bigger,” Zimmer said.
Zimmer hit a grand slam and crashed into the wall for a game-saving catch in the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 11-7 win. Batting .281 with seven homers, and 12 stolen bases, Zimmer has contributed in every category with his 6-foot-5 frame.
“Physically it’s impressive to see a big guy going to get balls like that and his speed on the bases,” Indians right fielder Austin Jackson said. “His baseball instincts are what really stand out. He’s been able to catch some balls I thought he had no business catching.”
Bryan Shaw (4-4) retired the last two hitters in the seventh and recorded an out in the eighth to earn the win.
Cleveland, which is a season-high nine games over .500, put the game away with a seven-run eighth.
The Angels rallied from a 7-0 deficit Tuesday, but lost on Edwin Encarnacion’s grand slam in the 11th.
“We want to win, obviously, but the game just got away from us,” center fielder Mike Trout said. “We fought back last night, but couldn’t finish the job, either.”
Luis Valbuena’s second-inning double tied the game. Yan Gomes’ two-out single put Cleveland ahead in the fourth, but Valbuena tied with a seventh-inning home run.
The Indians had 17 hits, including three by Carlos Santana. Gomes and Erik Gonzalez each had two RBIs.
Carlos Carrasco allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings. Nolasco, who gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings, has two wins in his last 16 starts and has allowed a major league-high 27 homers.
Jackson singled in the seventh. He appeared to steal second and take third on a wild throw by catcher Martin Maldonado, but Gonzalez was called for interference. Jackson was sent back to first but scored on Zimmer’s double.
“He won that battle, and that was the end of the day for me,” Nolasco said.
Andrelton Simmons had two singles and was hit by a pitch, but his streak of reaching base in eight straight plate appearances ended with a sixth-inning groundout.
I KNOW THAT GUY
Jackson was known as a center fielder who ran down everything when he reached the majors in 2010 with the Tigers. He now plays alongside Zimmer and sees a little of himself in his teammate.
“I was telling him he reminds me of this guy who used to play with Detroit,” Jackson joked. “Some center fielder. I don’t remember his name. He looks a lot like that guy, a lot bigger though.”
Nolasco remained in the game after taking Francisco Lindor’s grounder off his backside in the third and retired Michael Brantley to end the inning.
Both teams made roster moves after using six relievers Tuesday. The Indians recalled right-hander Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Columbus and optioned outfielder Abraham Almonte.
The Angels optioned left-hander Jose Alvarez to Triple-A Salt Lake and recalled right-hander Brook Pounders.
Indians: Manager Terry Francona says 2B Jason Kipnis (strained right hamstring) is ahead of OF Lonnie Chisenhall (strained right calf) as both players return from injuries. Kipnis might begin a minor league rehab assignment in a few days.
Angels: RHP JC Ramirez gave up an earned run over six innings to beat Boston on July 22. He faced the Indians four times in 2016, twice apiece with the Reds and Angels.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer picked up his eighth win of the season on July 21, allowing three runs in six innings against Toronto. He is 3-0 in his career against the Angels.