Indians improve to 39-44
Tonight's game was delayed slightly due to weather, but Corey Kluber didn't delay in mowing down Astros hitters. Kluber threw 6 and 2/3 shutout innings, and when he ran into trouble, his defense and bullpen picked him up. That helped ensure a victory despite a weak Tribe offensive showing.
Kluber scattered a few hits here and there, and struck out "only" seven Astros tonight. For the most part, though, he was the Klubot we all know and love. He breezed through the first four inning, working with a lead for three of those thanks to a David Murphy patented Magic Hands RBI double in the Tribe first. He ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth, giving up a leadoff walk then a two out double to put the Astros within striking distance. He was able to induce Jose Altuve into grounder to Giovanny Urshela for the inning-ending fielder's choice. The defense, for a change, actually aided Kluber instead of hindering him for a change.
After the adventurous 5th inning, things could have gotten bad to start the 6th, if not for two defensive gems. Preston Tucker smashed a liner into right center that looked destined to fall in for a gap double, but Michael Bourn made a fantastic running catch to rob Tucker. Not only was Bourn finally doing exactly what we're paying him for, but he ws also returning the favor - Tucker had robbed Bourn of a sure gapper in the bottom of the 5th. Next, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana had a chance to flash the leather. Carlos Correa grounded one into the hole at short, but Lindor made the stop and a strong, spinning, one-hop throw to Santana who aptly scooped the ball and got Correa by at least a half step. The play was initially ruled a single, but was correctly overturned upon review. Check out this beauty:
The next batter, Evan Gatis, smashed a single up the middle
witch which could have scored two runs to put the Astros ahead had it not been for the previous two defensive plays. Not wanting to press his luck with relying on the defense, Kluber mowed down Colby Rasmus to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Indians hitters had done next to nothing since the first inning. They scattered a few hits here and there against Houston starter Vincent Valasquez, but could get a big hit when they needed it. Dr. Smooth had something to say about that in the 6th inning, smashing a line shot solo homer to break the scoring moratorium (scoratorium?) and put the Tribe up 2-0. Sadly, though Brantley would contribute another hit on the night, the Indians wouldn't plate another run. Sadly-er, Jason Kipnis would see his home hitting streak finally come to an end, as he failed to get a hit in four at bats. Really, though, the pitching and defense was the highlight of this game.
Kluber ran into another bit of trouble in the 7th when he gave up a leadoff single, and balked a runner to 2nd with one out. That runner advanced to 3rd on a two-out passed ball, and Kluber walked his second batter of the night to give the Astros a 1st & 3rd opportunity. At this point, a visibly angry (with himself) Kluber was removed from the game, and the ball was handed off to Zach McAllister. The Attach finished the job, K-ing All-Star Jose Altuve to end the 7th and the Astros' scoring threat.
McAllister went on to pitch a 1-2-3 8th, and Bryan Shaw came on to record the 1-2-3 save in the 9th. The Indians stopped their skid at
two three games, and are back in the W column as we hoped. They'll look for a series win in tomorrow's rubber match to take a series lead and start a winning streak in game 3 tomorrow.
Win Expectancy Chart
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