Indians advance to 43-47
Corey Kluber saw a number in his own team’s scorecard that he has not seen since May of last year -- 9. Cleveland Indians hitters managed to supply their ace with runs early and late. The run support was not sustained through the entire game as Cincinnati Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani and was able to stop the game from being a total blowout until the bullpen came in and obliged in the seventh inning, but it was enough damage to let Kluber overpower Reds batters for a huge chunk of his dominant outing.
The Indians lineup wasted no time getting to work as Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor both quickly tallied hits and then were hit home on a Michael Brantley three-run home run. Thanks to the bats of Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, the Reds answered right away in the bottom of the first, but only to the tune of one run.
Later in the third inning, Carlos Santana hit home Lindor with a double, and Brandon Moss brought Santana home with a home run of his own. The real dagger was Yan Gomes’ towering, double-decker home run in the seventh, which put the Tribe up 9-1.
The nine runs would be the final resting point for the Tribe’s offensive output for the night, but it’s especially encouraging that all he runs of the night were done without sacrificing an out. No sac bunts, no sac flies, no fielders choices. For an offense that has had as much trouble as the Indians, many of the issues have been their own doing with trading outs for runs or even just the prospects of runs. But tonight they did it all on hits, walks, doubles and home runs.
Brantley’s back injury bothering him is still obvious when you watch him in the field and at the plate, but he is working through it well. I did not see anything egregious on defense, but his swing is considerably uglier, regardless of the fact that he hit a home run with it tonight. I cannot wait to see what he does when he is fully healthy again; I can only hope that will happen sooner than later.
Similarly, Carlos Santana continues to look superb. So far in the month of the July, he is arguably the Tribe’s best hitter, and he defended his status with a 2-for-3 night, including two doubles and two walks. If you were one of the people calling for Santana to be traded – or worse, cut – this is the point where you begin to feel hot, burning shame and the rest of us feel no pity for you.
Despite the relatively low strikeout total of five, Kluber still looked great. Through 7.2 innings of work, Kluber spread out seven hits and walked one. The only batter that gave Kluber any trouble was Votto, who went 3-for-3 with a walk. Kluber "allowed" three runs, but two of them were charged to him only because of a minor bullpen collapse in he eighth.
It was a bit surprising seeing Kluber pitch so deep into the game, considering the heat and humidity as his pitch count creeped toward – and eventually over – 100. The bullpen did get some action as Cody Allen came in for (presumably) a 4-out close but he allowed a three-run homer from Jay Bruce instead. Zach McAllister came in to sweep up the remaining Reds batters in the ninth with his high-90s fastball doing some disgusting things to opposing hitters.
Win Expectancy Chart
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