Almost every MLB team will experience a 5-game losing streak this season, because they're not especially uncommon. That provides little comfort though, when you're watching your team do poorly in just about every facet of them game, as the Indians have since Friday. Making matters worse, tonight's game took approximately forever, as the teams combined to use a dozen pitchers. It was 1:41 AM in Cleveland by the time this one ended.
Five days after making one of the best starts in recent franchise history last Thursday, Corey Kluber struggled this time out. He hit the first batter he faced, gave up three straight hits to begin the 2nd, walked two in the 3rd, gave up two more hits in the 4th, and gave up another three hits and issued one more free pass in the 5th before being lifted with two outs. At that point he'd allowed 4 runs (3 earned) on 8 hits. All of those hits were singles, so it's fair to say he suffered a bit of bad luck on balls in play, but he also walked 4, and there's no way to consider this a successful outing.
Adding injury to insult, Jason Kipnis exited the game during the top of the 4th inning with a right abdominal strain suffered either while swinging or darting out of the batter's box on what turned out to be a double play ball.
A 4-0 deficit seemed like too much to overcome, given the way the offense has been hitting of late, but on this night, the lineup put up a bit of a fight. Mike Aviles singled in the 6th, when Carlos Santana hit his second home run in as many games, making it a 4-2 game. Many around these parts were calling for Santana to be benched for this entre series in order to clear his head, or teach him a lesson, or something. Terry Francona said he was willing to be patient, knowing that good hitters tend to hit well, if given enough time. It's awful to say "I told you so," so I won't, but I will point out that this week's events are worth remembering the next time you're panicking about a player's slump (to be fair, while I wanted Carlos batting cleanup even after the three previous weeks, I'm susceptible to overreacting too, as evidenced by my calling for Danny Salazar to be demoted... four days before he pitched a tremendous game).
The Tribe loaded the bases with nobody out in the 7th. Santana then drew a walk to make it a 5-3 game (Carlos also beat the shift by bunting for a hit earlier in the game; I'd argue this was his best game of the season). Michael Brantley came to the plate with the bases still loaded... what more could we have asked for? He was able to get one run in with a sacrifice fly, but Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Giambi couldn't find a way to push another run across, and the Indians went quietly in the 8th and 9th.
Cabrera had three hits, if you're looking for another positive; Giambi is now 0 for 8, and Yan Gomes has a .299 OBP and has struck out in 30% of his plate appearances this season, if you're looking for other negatives (in addition to the 5-game losing streak and Kipnis' injury).
The Indians are now 11-16, the worst record in the AL Central and 4.5 games back of Detroit. They have one more chance to grab a win on this road trip, with tomorrow's series finale scheduled for a more reasonable 7:05 ET. Zach McAllister will start on three days' rest for the Indians, with lefty C.J. Wilson going for the Angels.
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