Indians improve to 10-16
In the cold depths of winter, this is how you dreamed the Indians would play. Seven strong innings from the starting pitcher. Contributions from just about everyone in the batting order. Even a good defensive play or two. But the yearning for blurry abstract glory is never as interesting as wining in high definition with Ryan Raburn batting cleanup.
The Indians have been so bad at hitting left-handed pitching that clubs are now bringing up left-handed relievers or rearranging their rotation so that the Cleveland hitters would have as many at-bats as possible against a southpaw. The Royals did just that, pushing Jeremy Guthrie back a couple days so that both Jason Vargas and Danny Duffy would face the Indians. Vargas worked out perfectly for the Royals, but Danny Duffy was another matter.
That this game would follow a different script was apparent from the beginning. Jason Kipnis led off the contest with a double, and although he would be thrown out at home, the Indians plated an early run thanks to a wild pitch. In the second inning the Indians pounced on Duffy and didn't let him off the hook, scoring four runs off the young left-hander before Royals manager Ned Yost pulled him.
Carlos Carrasco at times has been spectacular, but tonight he was just functional. And that was perfectly fine given how the offense fared. He stuck around for seven innings, gave up some runs but not too many, and lasted long enough for the Indians to put the game away. For a time it appeared almost inevitable that the Royals would mount a late comeback, but Carlos held the Royals in check. A play that could have come have back to bite the Indians (a Lorenzo Cain triple that center field Michael Brantley couldn't run down) cut the lead to 5-3, but thanks to the outburst in the top of the next inning, the play will only live on in Tribe bloggers' obsessive minds, to be brought forth when....sorry, I was distracted for a moment.
Two defensive plays that weren't made let loose the Tribe bats in the seventh. After Carlos Santana walked, Michael Brantley hit a lazy fly ball off the end of his bat. Four Kansas City defenders converged in shallow center field, and the player with the worst angle (Christian Colon) tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch but dropped the ball. Then Ryan Raburn, who we were ready to run out of town in our February dreams, hit a double over Alex Gordon's head, pushing the lead back to five (8-3). Then Brandon Moss doubled, driving in Raburn. Then the Royals made their second miscue of the inning; Nick Swisher hit a ball back at pitcher Franklin Morales, who threw behind the runner (Moss) at second, but second baseman Omar Infante was in ground-ball double play mode and instead of tagging Moss touched the base and threw on to first to get Swisher. Moss would later score when Mike Aviles grounded a single through a drawn-in infield.
The Indians collected 13 hits on the night, divided among the nine starting batters. The Indians also drew four walks, and were hit by a pitch twice. In all that is 19 base runners, one short of the amount needed for a really nice clickbait slideshow, but still, among the best performances the offense has had all season.
Now that the Indians have shown that they can win and look very good doing so, their next mission is to win consecutive games, also known as a winning streak. They will try for that elusive accomplishment tomorrow afternoon, with the game starting at 2:10 PM. Corey Kluber will make the start.
Win Expectancy Chart
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|Matt R. Lyons
|Deep South Ken
|Denver Tribe Fan