Tribe improves to 57-55
It seems weird that you can watch a pitcher go 7 1/3 innings, strike out 7 and allow only one run and feel a bit let down. But that's how good Corey Kluber has been recently.
Fresh off his AL Pitcher of the Month snub, Kluber looked a little more shaky than usual from the outset. His command, while still good, wasn't his typical robot-assimilation, pinpoint control. He labored a bit to get through the first two innings, needing 38 pitches. But he got out unscathed and, after a rough 3rd for the defense behind him, settled in nicely.
He was nearing 100 pitches after 7 and probably should have been relieved at that point, but Francona tried to get one more out of the Klubot. He gave up a single to Jay Bruce and, after striking out Todd Frazier, a single to Devin Mesoraco. Nick Hagadone came on and promptly gave up a run-scoring double to the club-footed Brayan Pena, thus ending the scoreless stretch for Kluber. John Axford would close out the inning and eventually the game without further damage. Axford actually notched a save in the process, his 10th on the year and first since May 3rd.
Unlike the previous Kluber outing, the offense would need at least 2 tonight and they came through with runs aplenty. Jason Kipnis led off the game with a double (after having a run-in with a defenseless door pre-game) and came around to score after a sacrifice by Mike Aviles and a groundout by Michael Brantley.
I'm not an advocate of the sacrifice bunt, especially so early in the game, but Aviles actually managed to do something useful with the bat, so I can't complain too much. Since the start of July, Aviles' OPS has been an incredible .533 and he has no business at the top this lineup. The only person who doesn't seem to know it is Terry Francona. Even Aviles knows it, as evidenced by his intent to sacrifice again later in the game. When you have an actual outfielder on the roster in Tyler Holt and an infielder in left who has no bat and no ability to get on base, it is time to make a change.
The Indians would score 5 of their remaining 6 runs via the long ball. Lonnie Chisenhall went deep to dead center in the 4th for a 3-run shot and Yan Gomes capped the scoring in the 8th with a no-doubt, 2-run bomb to left. In between the long balls, the Indians scratched a run across in the 5th when Brantley singled home Jose Ramirez, who had an uncharacteristically tough day in the field, booting a grounder and botching a double play in consecutive plays. He'll likely turn that around, but it was still discouraging to see.
It was important to get the win tonight because tomorrow's matchup of Johnny Cueto and Josh Tomlin looks much less favorable. But we're now two games over .500 and only 2.5 back of Toronto for the 2nd Wild Card spot. Things are very tightly bunched but there is still a lot of baseball to play and stranger things have happened. Like this. I hate Detroit.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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