September 7, 2013
One of the things that have lost in this second half of play is how good the pitching staff has been despite all the juggling with injuries. Of the five starters who started the season in the rotation, three have missed a scheduled start due to injury and a fourth (Scott Kazmir) has had to have his innings managed all season. And Corey Kluber, who replaced Brett Myers in the rotation back in April, had to miss a month with a middle finger ligament strain. Yet despite all that shuffling, the Indians pitching staff has been one of the best in the American League since the All-Star break.
Tonight Corey Kluber, who was coming off the Disabled List, filled in for Justin Masterson, who could be out for the season. Because Kluber could not make a rehab appearance before the minor-league seasons ended, was on a very strict pitch out (75-90 pitches), so that it was very likely he would only pitch 3 or 4 innings. Like Kazmir the previous evening, Kluber blew past expectations to pitch a nice outing by any standard. He pitched into the sixth inning, striking out 5 batters and allowing just two runs. You'd expect a pitcher who hadn't thrown in a game in a month to have control problem, but Kluber didn't, walking only batter (and that came to the final batter that he faced).
The Indians gave Kluber a big cushion to scoring five runs off Jonathon Niese in the first inning. Niese, who went to high school in Defiance, Ohio (alumni also include Chad Billingsley and 2013 Indians draft pick Dace Kime), had been pitching well coming off the DL in early August, gave up a leadoff single to Michael Bourn followed by a Nick Swisher double (scoring Bourn). After Carlos Santana singled Swisher home, Ryan Raburn topped off the inning with a three-run double. In the following inning Nick Swisher belted a home run to make the score 6-1. But Niese would settle down, getting the Mets through six innings.
After Kluber gave up a leadoff walk in the sixth, Terry Francona pulled him, bringing in Rich Hill, who struck out Daniel Murphy and Zach Lutz but walked Lucas Duda. Francona then gave Vinnie Pestano, who hadn't pitched for the Indians since late July, an opportunity to pitch in a semi-important situation. But Pestano's return to the Indians was not a pretty one, as Justin Turner slammed a double off the 19-foot wall in center field, making it a 6-3 game. Then Juan Lagares drove home Turner with a single to make it 6-4. What once seemed a relatively easy victory now had become a close game, and Pestano was quickly pulled. I don't think he'll see the mound with the game in doubt for the rest of the season.
But the Indians had an answer, and it game from an unexpected source. Asdrubal Cabrera was in the midst of yet another dreadful slump (0-for-19), and has seemed to come up with runners on base every time. In the eighth inning, he came to the plate with runners on first and third with two out. But this time he came through in a big way, drilling a three-run homer that just flew inside the foul pole in right field. That home run ensured that the Indians would win their fourth game in a row, a winning streak that's come exactly at the right time. For if the Rays lose tonight, the Indians will wake up tomorrow just one game out of a wild card spot.
AL Games of Interest
- Baltimore 4, White Sox 3 (10 Innings) - Final
- Boston 13, Yankees (-1.5) 9 - Final
- Oakland 2 (+6.0), Houston 1 - Final
- Kansas City (-3.0) 4, Detroit (+6.0) 3 - 9th Inning
- LA Angels 4, Texas 2 - 3rd Inning
- Seattle 3, Tampa Bay 0 - 3rd Inning
Roll Call (27 Commenters)
|14||new zealand tribe fan||4|
|22||Denver Tribe Fan||1|
|27||Mr. Bad Example||1|