Indians improve to 12-20
Until tonight the best performance by a Cleveland pitcher I've seen was Bartolo Colon's one-hit masterpiece in Yankee Stadium on September 18th, 2000. Colon struck out 13, allowed one hit and one walk, and posted a Game Score of 97, which is one of the best Game Scores of all time that wasn't a no-hitter.
Tonight's performance topped that brilliant performance, and then some. Corey Kluber was mesmerizing, with only two small blemishes in his eight innings: he hit Matt Holliday with a pitch in the first inning, and allowed a single to LGFT Jhonny Peralta in the seventh inning. He struck out 18 Cardinals, tying a franchise record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game*, and he did it having only recorded 24 outs (that means that only 6 outs came on balls put in play). Kluber struck out at least two batters in every inning except the second. He struck out the side three times. And he accomplished all this without walking a batter. It's hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe how great Kluber was tonight, so I'll let the aforementioned Game Score describe it:
If Kluber is done, it's the highest Game Score (98) in an eight-inning outing since at least 1914 and probably ever.— Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot) May 14, 2015
Think about that for a second. The best eight-inning performance since reliable box scores began to be tracked (1914). Now most pitchers throwing that well went on to pitch a ninth inning, because most of those performances were no-hitters heading into the ninth inning. But even so, it shows how special tonight's performance was.
The Indians scored both of their runs in the first inning, then tried (and failed) to add to their 2-0 lead. They left 13 batters on base, including 3 in the 6th inning. But thanks to Kluber and Cody Allen, who pitched a perfect night, those two first inning runs would hold up.
Matt Holliday would leave the game after being hit by Kluber, and Cardinals starter John Lackey would retaliate by hitting Jason Kipnis in back with two outs in the fourth inning. Both benches were then warned, and Terry Francona protested vehemently. He was almost immediately ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt, so he watched the rest of Kluber's masterpiece from the clubhouse. So he wasn't around to make the decision to pull Kluber after eight innings, but I'm fairly certain that he would made the same call that bench coach Brad Mills made. Kluber finished the eighth having thrown 112 pitches, almost 10 more than his previous season high, and it was only a 2-0 game.
(Oh, and apparently this was Kluber's first win of the season. Huh.)
In a fitting juxtaposition, before the game the Indians debuted a permanent Bob Feller exhibit at Progressive Field. Filled with memorabilia from Feller's Hall of Fame career, it includes items like the glove he wore he pitched his Opening Day no-hitter in 1940, and the bat Babe Ruth leaned on for his farewell address. Feller's wife and son were there to cut the open the exhibit, and were at the game tonight to watch Corey Kluber tie one of Feller's many feats. Because before tonight's game, Feller held the record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 18. Now Feller and Kluber share that mark.
*Bob Feller, 1936. Luis Tiant holds the franchise record for strikeouts in a game, with 19 in a 10-inning game in 1968.
Win Expectancy Chart
|18||Blue and Red||3|
|20||new zealand tribe fan||3|
|23||Denver Tribe Fan||2|
|25||Matt R. Lyons||2|