Indians improve to 34-26
"Aw, come on big guy," the Cleveland Indians say to you as they catch you sulking after the Cavaliers essentially collapsed in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. "Don't be so down. we could watch some old Jim Thome highlights." You shake your head 'no' and stare wistfully into the middle distance.
"We could... make disparaging remarks about the Chicago White Sox on Twitter again?" they plead as you contemplate the idea that LeBron James really could opt out of his contract if the Cavs do not win their next three games against one of the best basketball teams of all time. You sigh again.
"We could beat the rotting corpse of the Los Angeles Angels into submission in the first inning and let Corey Kluber make their offense look like a summer league team over the next several innings of their miserable lives?"
The Indians offense did just as they promised in the first inning, recording four hits and four earned runs with just the first nine batters of the game. Jason Kipnis got things started -- against a left-handed pitcher, no less -- and Mike Napoli continued the proverbial party with a double. To make things even weirder and more damaging to the Angels' chances of ever making a full emotional recovery, Jose Ramirez stole a very unnecessary base, swiping third with two outs in the first inning. Who knows why he did it, but the Angry Hamster's super power toolset evidently includes fortune telling as well as helmet deflection, because the steal actually ended up mattering.
Had Ramirez not stolen third with two outs in the first, he would not have scored when Yunel Escobar whiffed a routine ground ball to first base that allowed Juan Uribe to reach first base instead of finishing off the inning. Jose Ramirez skittered to home as only he can skitter, then Yan Gomes finished off the inning for real with a fly out as he and anyone with the ability to make bad contact with a baseball can do.
If the Indians offense decided to just call it quits, hooked up some computers and played Overwatch in the dugout every half inning for the next three hours, they still would have won handily. Corey Kluber had brief pockets of not looking like himself, but for the most part, he shut down the Angels to an embarrassing degree, including a streak of 12-straight outs through the middle innings. Kluber's only real bad inning came in the sixth when he allowed two straight hits and threw a wild pitch that allowed Yunel Escobar to score from third.
Kluber was aided by a very active Rajai Davis tonight. Davis chased down three separate fly balls in the first handful of innings. While his route recognition did not look spectacular, he was able to make up for it with raw speed and help out his cyborg pitcher with everything hit his way. Davis or no Davis, Kluber was spectacular, and he instilled enough confidence in Terry Francona to let him stay in the game for the full nine innings, even at 114 pitches. This was only Kluber's second complete game of the season.
It really is hard to be too harsh on this Angels team right now. They were not a great offense to begin with outside of Mike Trout, but boy. They looked atrocious. And the Indians didn't. So that was fun.