The men in Blue fled north across the border and the gunslinger followed.
The outcome defied what some thought the league would be, its close placement in standings which might have passed for excellence in other divisions. Quick, blinding, effortless, without need for save, the vexing curve of the Kluber imposed itself upon the Blue Jays and reminded Indians fans of the team that brings sweet dreams, victories, and hope.
A cloudy haze sketched itself into the order of the Blue Jays tonight. Throughout the series they struggled against the consistent pounding of Indians pitching. Underneath a brutal sun, this afternoon’s game ended no differently. Corey Kluber dealt daggers for nearly eight innings, leaving only after a walk to Josh Donaldson.
At the end of it all, the Indians swept the Blue Jays and rebounded with style from an abysmal west coast trip to bring their record to 52-45. Kluber melted the Toronto lineup with fourteen strikeouts and continues to provide the strong, consistent production that a division leader expects out of an ace.
While it would have been excellent for Kluber to work through eight, 120 pitches is the most he’s thrown in quite some time (citation needed). The wonderful thing about the Cleveland Indians is that they have the best bullpen in all of baseball (no citation needed) and so a start who allows a single run through most of the game is very likely to bring home the bacon.
Nick Goody hurled three pitches to close out the 8th, and Tyler Olson bowled through the ninth on nine pitches to close out the win.
We’ve established the dominance of the Indians’ pitching staff. What else happened today?
Great googly moogly that offense
In the first inning, Carlos Santana singled. Francisco Lindor then laid down a nasty bunt, reaching first without anyone on the defense to challenge him. Michael Brantley then singled in the first run of the night. After an Edwin Encarnacion flyout, Jose Ramirez walked. This set the stage for the man who might have become a weed-eater during the offseason based on his inexplicably drop in production: Brandon Guyer. He doubled to deep center field and cleared the bases, bringing the game to 4-0
It was never in doubt after this. Jose Ramirez is the only Indians starter that did not notch a hit today, but he drew a walk and scored. If we’re being fair, he took several balls for a ride deep into the outfield, and on another afternoon with the right breeze more than one would have left the park.
The Indians looked like a complete team this weekend against the Blue Jays. This is the team that we expected to see at the beginning of April. This is the team that we pined for in May and saw flashes of in June. Now, in July, after a catastrophic beginning to the second half, we may be seeing the true 2017 Cleveland Indians for the first time.
What I’ve seen of the team this season tells me that perhaps the god-awful losses during that road trip are exactly what they needed. They realized that they cannot be complacent. They recalled the excitement with which they approached each game last season. They slammed home a series sweep against an old foe and sent a message not only to the rest of the league, but to the fans: we’re ready to take this thing over.