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Corey Kluber and the Indians falter early, lose 7-1 to Houston Astros

The highlight of tonight's game for the Indians? A kicked helmet.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

Indians 1, Astros 7

Box score

Indians fall to 15-14


Corey Kluber entered the third inning tonight with three strikeouts and no earned runs with only 24 pitches thrown. He needed 30 pitches to record two more outs, and would not finish the inning.

It's difficult to put a finger on exactly what went wrong. Kluber still hit 93-94 on the radar gun, but he had Gomes dancing behind the plate to stay in front of the ball. I don't disagree at all with Tito's decision to pull him in the middle of the third inning; it was pretty clear that Kluber just didn't have it tonight.

More than anything, I hate the look on Kluber's face when he leaves a game and hasn't pitched particularly well. He normally doesn't have to try to hide his emotions, but somehow when he tries to act nonchalant after getting shelled a bit of sadness comes through.


It hurts my soul.

There's no indication that Kluber's exit was related to an injury. Physical injuries, anyway; that look betrays some mental trauma. After his exit, five relievers combined to pitch the final 5.1 innings. Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister, and Cody Allen all remained on the bench, so the Indians should be fine if Trevor Bauer can put up a quality start tomorrow. Which. Well. I'll keep my fingers crossed?

It would be foolish to discount how well Mike Fiers pitched tonight, even though the Indians didn't put up much of a fight. He'd only reached the seventh inning once before this season. It is only the second game in which he did not allow a home run, and the first time he's allowed fewer than five hits. Sure, it stinks that he had to carve up the Indians, but encouraging to see him get a once-promising career back on track. He came up with the Brewers in 2012 at age 27 and posted an 8-6 record with a 2.88 ERA in 16 starts. Many thought he'd become a fixture at the front of the rotation, but he fizzled in 2013 and at one point held an ERA above 8. The Brewers demoted him to AAA, where a Kevin Kousmanoff line drive broke his arm, shelving him for the season. His mother passed away shortly after.

At his nadir, he posted an ERA of 11.05 in five Venezuelan Winter League starts. It's been an astonishing climb back, and he notched his third win in seven starts tonight. It's hard not to root for him, although I'll feel better when he's striking out the rest of the American League.

There is not a great deal to discuss as far as the Indians offense is concerned. Mike Napoli put up another sombrero, his fifth game this year with at least 3 strikeouts. Yan Gomes stroked two liners directly at defenders, and his BABIP currently sits at .190. It's strange to me that this offense alternates between dropping ten runs at a time and being almost entirely unwatchable. For those of us that were forced to endure the entire game, the highlight of the night was easily Jose Ramirez's helmet-kicking double.

Tomorrow the Indians face off against Chris Devenski, a 25-year-old rookie making his third start. He has yet to pitch in a game that the Astros have won. Hopefully the Indians can keep that streak alive.