Indians improve to 52-34
The Indians took the field before a sellout crowd tonight expecting cheap hot dogs, fireworks after the game, and perhaps a Tribe win over the hated Yankees. The capacity crowd got all that, and much more.
Corey Kluber had his worst outing of the season his last time up in the rotation, but tonight had one of his best starts of the season. The movement on his pitches was fantastic, whether it was his tight slider or the comeback fastball he threw over the inside corner against left-handed hitters. Kluber struck out eight batters, didn't walk anyone, and went eight innings on just 96 pitches.
The Indians collected just five hits off of New York starter Chad Greene, but four of those hits left the yard. Carlos Santana got the party started by taking Greene deep to start the bottom of the first, Jason Kipnis followed with a home run of his own, then later in the inning, Lonnie Chisenhell swatted a two-run homer to essentially take the Yankees out of the game in the first inning. I guess the Tribe hitters wanted no part of the back end of the New York bullpen after seeing them last and made sure that Betances, Miller, and Chapman wouldn't enter the game tonight.
There were many highlights, both on offense and defense, but this home run by Napoli in the third inning overshadowed them all.
Yes, you saw correctly; Napoli's blast landed just short of the scoreboard at the top of the bleachers, and just missed hitting John Adams' drum:
Mike, you missed the drum head by 6" . Better luck next at bat. :-)— John J. Adams (@TribeDrummer) July 9, 2016
Napoli's home run barely missed being just the second home run in the 23-year history of Jacobs/Progressive Field to hit the scoreboard (Mark McGwire, 1997). It was a feat that left even his teammates, who see home runs every day in batting practice, in shock:
Napoli's blast made the score 6-0, and the rout was on. They would knock Greene out of the game in the fifth and would cruise the rest of the way. Jason Kipnis went 3-for-4 with two home runs, Francisco Lindor reached base three times, and Juan Uribe contributed a double. The Indians only out-hit the Yankees 9 to 7, but it was the quality of their hits that made the difference.
The only real down note to this contest was the continuing struggles of Yan Gomes, who went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Counting tonight, Gomes has struck out 14 times in his last 37 plate appearances, and with Roberto Perez one or two weeks away from rejoining the club, the Indians will have a difficult decision to make this month.
Kluber could have completed the game, but given the situation the Indians sat him for the ninth inning, instead opting to give Joe Colon his first inning in the majors. Colon has been with the organization since the Indians drafted him in 2009, and the starter-turned-reliever struggled a bit, giving up one run, but finished his inning to cap a great night for Tribe fans.