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Corey Kluber magnificent as the Cleveland Indians beat Detroit Tigers 4-0

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Kluber threw his second career shutout, allowing five hits and two walks.

Pitches may be closer than they appear.
Pitches may be closer than they appear.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Indians 4, Tigers 0

box score

Indians improve to 12-12

After a disastrous start 10 days ago, Anibal Sanchez made a tweak to his windup, reverting to a little turn towards second base as he started his windup. His first time through order he dominated the Indians, retiring them in order (Carlos Santana was erased on a double play).

Meanwhile Kluber looked less in control of things. In the second inning he walked two straight batters (one both on four pitches), but he got out of the jam thanks to a ball hit right at Mike Napoli (who went home for the force) and an Ian Kinsler strikeout. In the fourth his defense got him into a jam when Tyler Naquin pinned himself up against the wall on a Justin Upton fly ball to center field. Naquin couldn't jump to catch a ball that landed just a foot or so above him. That led to the Tigers putting runners at first and third with nobody out, but once again a ball hit right at Juan Uribe started a double play, a double play that happened with Upton still at third base. And once again, Kluber got a strikeout to end the threat.

The fourth inning was pivotal tonight, both in the top and bottom of the inning. As mentioned above, Kluber got out of a potential big inning, while in the bottom of the inning the Indians did get a big inning. A Carlos Santana walk got Sanchez back into the stretch. Kipnis struck out for the first one (one of the pitches should have been a balk, as Sanchez did not pause before starting his motion towards the plate), but then Sanchez hit Lindor on his back elbow (don't worry Tribe fans, he's fine), then Michael Brantley shot a ball through the right side to plate Santana.

The shift has been a big topic in baseball of late, particularly infield shifts. Brantley's ball got through the infield because teams have to play him honest; he hits balls on both sides of the infield. But teams are also shifting more in the outfield  for the same reasons; some hitters rarely hit fly balls to certain parts of the outfield. For Mike Napoli the Tigers positioned J.D. Martinez in right-center field, and so when he hit  ball down the right field line Martinez wasn't anywhere near the ball when it bounced just in front of the warning track. That double scored Lindor. Then Sanchez threw a ball that bounced off the plate and under James McCann's glove to score Brantley. Yan Gomes then capped the inning with a ball over Anthony Gose's head in center field. It certainly seemed that this inning would be the beginning of the end for Sanchez, just like his last start against the Indians, but it turned out to be a blip in his seven-inning outing.

But Corey Kluber made sure that that blip would be the deciding inning of the game. He cruised the rest of the game, retiring the Tiger batters mostly on ground balls, and usually within four pitches. At one point Francisco Lindor recorded assists on six out of seven outs, and seven out of eleven outs. But don't make the assumption that Kluber was only pitching to contact, as he ended the day with seven strikeouts. Regardless of the outcome, Kluber was throwing strikes; 77 of his 111 pitches were either called strikes or swung at.

In the ninth inning, Kluber faced Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Justin Upton for the fourth time, and retired them in order. Had Naquin caught Upton's fly ball in the fourth, Kluber would not have allowed an extra base hit to a team that is third in the AL in slugging percentage.

After a miserable end to their road trip, the Indians have picked up where they left off in Detroit, winning their fifth straight against the Tigers, and in the process got back to the .500 mark.