Nick Swisher has looked bad at the plate all season, leading to a lot of questions about how his next two and a half years might go. Those questions continued throughout the first ten innings of Sunday's series finale in Boston, as Swisher was 0 for 4. In the top of the 11th though, he made us all forget his problems* by poking a home run just inside Pesky's Pole down the right-field line at Fenway, giving the Tribe a 3-2 lead.
*I'm sure we'll remember them soon enough, but enjoy the moment.
Cody Allen stayed in for a second perfect inning of work, looking fantastic in both frames, with 3 strikeouts and a total of only 22 pitches. When a Grady Sizemore fly ball found its way into the glove of Michael Bourn, the Indians had themselves a win, a split of the 4-game series, and a split of the 10-game road trip. Plus, a 5-2 record against the defending World Series winners, which is nice.
Swisher wasn't the only guy to go deep for the Indians, in the 1st inning Michael Brantley hit a very similar shot, putting the Tribe ahead 1-0. It was his 11th home run of the season, which means he's now set a new career high, with three and a half months to add to it.
The day's other top offensive performer was Carlos Santana, who had 3 hits, boosting his batting average to .190. He's been the team's third-best hitter over the last four weeks, with an OPS over .800. I wonder if people will stop complaining about him yet? (SPOILER: They won't)
Corey Kluber wasn't great, but he got through 5.1 innings having allowed only 2 runs, despite issuing 4 walks and allowing 5 hits. This is three blah starts in a row for the Klubot, as he follows his fantastic May with a mediocre June. The strike zone was total crap all game though, so he deserves a little credit than his stat line would make you think.
You may know, I'm not much for complaining about the umpiring. Earlier this season I quipped that every time a fan complains about balls and strikes, a puppy drowns. The Cuyahoga would have been choked with bodies this afternoon, but a couple of them would have been there on account of me, because that's how bad things got. Heck, don't take my word for it. Here's prominent baseball writer and Bostonian Peter Gammons:
A very mediocre umpire named Chris Guccione owes Scott Atchison dinner for bailing him out— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) June 15, 2014
Fortunately, the calls didn't keep the Indians from winning, but many Tribe fans will be filing away the name Chris Guccione for future reference.
Five Indians relievers combined for 5.2 shutout innings, a second great day in a row for that unit. I'm growing pretty concerned about over-usage becoming a problem though:
Bob Howry set the single-season franchise record for most games pitched back in 2005, with 79. Marc Rzepczynski (36 already) and Bryan Shaw (35) are both on pace to break that mark, while Allen (34) is on pace to tie it. Those are the top three totals in the American League. John Axford (32), Josh Outman (30), and Scott Atchison (30) are also putting in a lot of work. As you can count for yourself, that's six pitchers with 30+ appearances already, compared to just 55 from the other 29 teams combined.
That's a worry for another day though (as are the next two and a half weeks, when the schedule does not let up). Today we celebrate a big win against a team many of us are not fond of. The Indians are in 3rd place, only 3.5 games behind Detroit. Not bad.
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