Corey Kluber pitched an incredible game against the Royals, and the Indians offense supported him with four home runs. However, it would be foolish to overlook one of the other top performers from today's game:
While the rain extended a game that would almost certainly have resulted in an Indians win if it was played in the normal fashion, the storm encapsulated the Indians sweep of the defending World Series champions. Throughout the entire series the Indians sang the offense electric with consistent jolts by Mike Napoli and Francisco Lindor. Paired with some of the best starting pitching in baseball, the Indians complete a weekend of untouchable baseball. It started with a glorious come-from-behind win on Thursday, and capped with a blowout win on Sunday.
Delightful? You bet. I'm worried that I've become a bit too excited about this Indians team, which now sits seven games above .500 while it leads the AL Central. The explosion of bats that we witnessed against the Royals is exactly the kind of production that Indians fans have craved since their near-brush with the World Series in 2007. When I imagine this offense, made constant and paired with our pitching staff, I am reduced to statements like, "AHHHH omfg I just if they can keep the thing going base hits and home runs and Naquin's bat waggle I can't even WHAT IS THIS LIFE."
If I attempt to be somewhat more articulate, here are the words that I can grasp:
Mike Napoli went deep, AGAIN. Fourteen on the year, seven in his last 13 games, and his sixth on this homestand. Earlier in the year I lamented that we might need to walk off and look for another power bat. How wrong I was. The emergence of Jose Ramirez and the non-stop donging of Mike Napoli are incredible, sufficient boosts.
Tyler Naquin obliterated a ball into the upper deck, and now has three home runs in as many days. There is absolutely no way the Indians can justify sending him down again this year. This breakout, combined with the talent we saw in Spring Training? The young man has slugged his way onto the roster. He belongs even if your argument in favor of Naquin is, "We could use the depth," which is a foolish and incorrect argument for a kid whose batting stance dredges up primal, atavistic images of barbarian hordes being hewn apart with battle axes.
Then, Lindor launched his sixth bomb of the season. Lindorable.
Yes, the offense sparkled, but Kluber commanded this game early. In an at bat that represents the rest of his day well, he took a beautiful approach against Escobar in the top of the third. With an 0-2 count he threw a curveball in the dirt, away, then elevated a fastball up and in for the strikeout. One at-bat does not a pitcher make, but Kluber's body language on the mound recalls badassery unseen since the days of gunslingers in the old west. Quiet confidence with a boiling determination within, cutting down enemies with a cold stare and a quick draw. Today, we saw the Kluber that we've all come to admire. He wears a baseball cap but an aged Stetson would be more fitting when he cuts through each challenger in order. Put it this way: I looked down to write that sentence at the beginning of a Salvador Perez at-bat, and when I looked up he'd gotten to 0-2.
Look: The Royals have a very weak starting pitching staff. We've exposed that this in this series. You can have the best bullpen in the history of baseball, but unless you have a solid group of starting pitchers (or blow up all convention and pitch your bullpen in two-inning stints throughout the game) there's no way a shutdown bullpen can save you from a five-run deficit.
This bodes well for an Indians team with one of the best — if not the best — starting pitching staffs in all of baseball. An emergent power offense behind a brilliant pitching staff? If Cleveland keeps this up, It's only a matter of time before national baseball writers and commentators start to take this team seriously.
Even after the rain delay, it made no difference. The Indians added two more runs and put the Royals to bed without dinner. I sat around waiting for the Royals to make some kind of comeback against the Indians 'pen. They could not. Zach McAllister and Austin Adams struck out five hitters combined in three innings of work after the tarp rolled up. No runs, one hit, but no chance for the Royals.
Next, the Indians fly out to face the Seattle Mariners for the three game series. I will be staying up late with all of you for tomorrow and Tuesdays games, and might even perform a live facebook Q&A for all five of us that are still awake.
There's also an important basketball game tonight. May the Cavs lay their foes from the west to waste.
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A full list of starting rotations with a worse ERA and FIP than that of the Kansas City Royals:— August Fagerstrom (@AugustFG_) June 5, 2016