Indians 5, Braves 3
Indians improve to to 46-30
Make it 11, folks. This one wasn’t always pretty, but the end result is the same: WE’RE (STILL) GOING STREAKING!!!
Corey Kluber was unconscious tonight, and he had the benefit of pitching from ahead for most of the game. The Indians got out to a quick 2-0 lead thanks to a Jose Ramirez RBI single and a nifty Ramirez/Francisco Lindor double steal that including Lindor swiping home plate from the clutches of A.J. Pierhjsdlhfuhfdncv. The Indians could have tacked on more in the 1st, but failed to take advantage of a one-out, RISP opportunity. This would become a running theme throughout the game, but wouldn’t start to matter until late.
Kluber, meanwhile, seemed to benefit immensely from the combination of an extra day of rest and facing an NL lineup. Through five innings, he was unhittable -- literally. The only baserunner he allowed was a walk issued to Ender Inciarte in the 1st, which was erased by a nifty double play. He cruised into the 6th inning having thrown fewer than 60 pitches despite having amassed five strikeouts. His stuff was electric, and he was hitting his spots with ease. Then he hit a bit of a snag.
Back-to-back singles -- one legitimate and one a decidedly NL-esque hit -- gave the Braves the best opportunity they’d had all night. And just when it looked like Kluber would pull the Houdini act and get out of it, Inciarte put together a fine at-bat that led to a two-out, two strike, two-run single which tied the game at 2-2. Those wasted offensive opportunities now loomed large, but Kluber settled down to pitch two more excellent innings and set himself up for a win, should the Indians managed to finally score again.
And score they did -- but they managed it despite several miscues. Braves reliever Dario Vizcaino came out throwing straight garbage and walked the first two Tribe batters. Because the NL is stupid, the Terry Francona had a choice to make when Kluber’s spot in the lineup came due with two on and no outs. The obvious choice would have been to pinch-hit Mike Napoli, but Tito opted instead for Michael Martinez, who proceeded to bunt himself into a two-strike hole and then strike out looking. Thankfully, the Braves are gonna Brave, and the Indians took advantage of it. Carlos Santana delivered a clutch single to put the Tribe up 3-2, and then Francisco Lindor reached when Erick Aybar booted a grounder that allowed a pinch-running Rajai Davis to score and Santana to advance to 3rd. Jose Ramirez tacked on an RBI single, giving Tito the confidence to send Cody Allen out for the 9th.
And thank the stars for those added insurance runs, because Cody Allen needed them. A one-out homer by Jace Peterson got the Braves to within two, and a "triple" by Freddie Freeman sent the tying run to the plate (said triple was brought to you courtesy of Tyler Naquin’s Atrocious Outfield Navigation™). Fortunately, Cody would coax a lazy flyball out of Nick Markakis to end the game, but not before Jeff Francouer was ejected for arguing a bang-bang play at 1st that he had absolutely no involvement in.
Hotlanta, indeed. Corey Kluber, on the other hand, smiled as his team secured the win for him and bumped his record over .500. Here's a clip of him the moment Allen recorded the final out:
The Indians go for 12 in a row tomorrow with their co-ace on the mound. Let’s keep it rollin’!