A dominant performance from Corey Kluber and a persistent siege by the offense carried the day for the Cleveland Indians as they defeated the Texas Rangers 5-1. Kluber earned his 7th win on the season, and the Indians improve to 42-36.
Kluber cruised through eight innings this afternoon against the Rangers. Only four Rangers reached base all game long, courtesy of three hits and one walk. A home run in the top of the first with two outs hit by Nomar Mazara is the only blemish on an otherwise flawless afternoon for Kluber. He struck out twelve hitters, and has now sat down ten or more batters in five of his last six starts. It’s clear that Kluber’s stuff is incinerating the opposition right now, but how hot is it?
That K of Gomez was Kluber's 21st swinging-strike of the game. 6th time in his career he's had at least 21 in a game. 2nd time this year.— T.J. Zuppe (@TJZuppe) June 29, 2017
That’s a lot of missed bats.
It’s not just excellent pitching that the Indians get from Kluber this season, but excellent endurance, too. Many of the other Indians starters lean heavily on the bullpen to finish to job; with Kluber, it’s simply a matter of mopping up. He’s completed at least six innings in his last six starts, one of which was a masterful complete game shutout. Starts like this minimize bullpen usage, which allows the Indians to use the bullpen to preserve leads or stay within striking distance during other games. There’s rarely concern about overtaxing the short-inning arms on the ballclub at the moment.
Even if there were, they wouldn’t be without run support. The Indians offense continues to steamroll ahead after awakening during it’s fifteen-run outburst early this week. Today’s scoring happened in two bursts. First, in the 3rd inning, Yan Gomes and Bradley Zimmer both singled to lead off, then advanced into scoring positions courtesy of an Andrew Cashner wild pitch. A Francisco Lindor groundout plated Gomes. After Michael Brantley walked, another wild pitch scored Zimmer. Edwin Encarnacion flied out before twisting the dagger.
It wouldn’t take too much longer to knock the reeling Cashner out. A three-hit volley from the Trib sent him to the bench, as Brantley, Encarnacion, and Jose Ramirez stroked a double, single, and double respectively. Lonnie Chisenhall pinch-hit a double for Brandon Guyer, which scored Encarnacion and Ramirez. These five runs would prove to be all that Kluber needed to secure the win. If I recall the STO graphic correctly, Kluber is 127-0 when the Indians provide at least four runs of support in his starts.
Now that the series ends with the Tribe taking three of four, let’s take a look at how the Indians offense managed it. Here are the teams stats for the series against the Rangers:
Yeah, that’ll play.
The most astounding thing to me is that the Indians managed to be this productive without hitting a single home run in the series. It is the first time that the Indians have won a four game series without hitting a home run since 1989. In other words, I watched the Indians do something that they haven’t in my entire lifetime, today.
I find it encouraging that all of the Indians hitters contributed to the cause this week. So far this season they’ve relied on one player being scorching hot. It started with Francisco Lindor, shifted to Michael Brantley, and then settled upon Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion. No longer. The suspected malaise of the Indians order turns out to be nothing, nothing at all.
Noteworthy Tidbits of Tribe Items
- Nobody F%^&* bunted
- Zimmer’s single happened to be yet another of the infield variety. I’m not about to tell him to start hitting the ball on the ground, because we know that’s stupid now. Still, it’s nice to know that if he squibs one, there’s a chance he’ll beat it out.
- Brantley reached base in all four plate appearances today, tallying two hits and two walks. He raised his average to .306 on the season, with a .371 OBP. Remember that Brantley who got all those MVP votes a few years ago? He seems to be back for good.
- Yan Gomes allowed Rougned Odor to steal second and third base today. I can’t remember that ever happening to Gomer.