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Cleveland Indians shutout Royals in a game featuring crucial sacrifice bunts

There have been more exciting games, but at least this one is a W.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s performance from Mike Clevinger won’t make SportsCenter. It’s unlikely to be remembered after the next couple of months. In fact, Clevinger might even be on his way back to Columbus before the next series in Toronto begins.

That takes nothing away from the importance of his performance today. In a spot start due to an injury to Corey Kuber, Clevinger pitched 5.2 innings, striking out five and surrendering only one hit. It took 91 pitches, thanks to four walks, but Clevinger put the Indians in a position to win the only way he could - shutout baseball.

One of the major takeaways for fans today should be Clevinger’s increased curveball frequency. He showed confidence in it, throwing it in several hitters counts and baffling more than a few Royals hitters. While the Kansas City lineup isn’t exactly a murderer’s row, it is another Major League team. Regardless of where Clevinger heads next, he should do so with confidence.

The rest of the Indians pitching staff pitched in magnificently, as Boone Logan, Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen closed up shop without surrendering a run. Shaw in particular impressed today; he struck out all four hitters he faced. He leaned on his cutter, which touched 96 and moved like a slider today.

But what about the Indians offense today?

I really don’t want to talk about it.

You’re writing the recap and you’re just going to ignore half of the game, what the hell?

I can do whatever I want. I’m the one in charge of my life. I’m the master of ——

[Matt R. Lyons knocks on glass of hypothetical LGT recap room and sternly shakes his head]

Oh fine.

Bunts were the most consequential plays of the afternoon, basically.

Francisco Lindor sacrifice bunted in the top of the first inning to move Carlos Santana from second to third. It was a bad play. If you don’t trust me, how about the guy who just wrote a book about how bad plays like that are?

If you don’t trust Keith Law when it comes to something as simple as, “Your best hitter shouldn’t literally give up the first out of the game for free,” then go home. You’re drunk, but permanently. Wet brain is an awful disorder and you need to seek help immediately.

The Indians did this again in the top of the fifth. Yan Gomes clubbed a double to deep left center field, then got bunted over by Almonte. This time it “worked”, as Santana hit a liner back up the middle to plate Gomes. I guess this is somewhat more defensible, as it became clear by this point in the game that the Indians and Royals were entrenched in the smallest of small ball games. Plus, Gomes is not a guarantee to score from second on a base hit.

I still didn’t like it.

There were other hits. Guyer reached twice, but promptly got caught in a run down on one trip around the bases. Encarnacion slapped a single, and Santana also chipped in two more hits.

Other than Santana, the infield really didn’t look so hot at the plate. Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Jose Ramirez went a combined 0-11 with 2 SO. I don’t expect that to be common; I also don’t expect the Indians to win very many games like this again during the season.

I heard that Michael Brantley got hurt?

Yes, but not the way you might expect. Brantley sprained his ankle, somehow. Nothing bad seemed to have happened in his last at bat, which helped to fuel the general panic around Indians fandom.

I think most of us had the same reaction. It’ll be interesting to keep tabs on the team over the next day or so to see what the Indians do. It would be nice to avoid time on the DL, but the 10-day trip might make it more viable than in years past.

Up next, the Indians travel to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays tomorrow, then return home Friday for a homestand that features the Twins and the Rays. I may or may not have predicted that both of those teams would make the playoffs, so maybe this coming weekend will feature an October preview? Aaron Judge will stop being Babe Ruth at some point, won’t he? Right guys? The Rays totally still have a chance. Hah hah.