Corey Kluber clearly loves America. The rest of the Cleveland Indians? I’m not so sure.
For the fifth game in a row, on America’s birthday, the Indians ace struck out a double-digit number of batters (10), setting a franchise recording and reminding the San Diego Padres how much they screwed up trading him for peanuts several years ago. A three-pitch first inning and an equally impressive second frame had this game set up to be one for the history books, but it didn’t quite happen.
In Kluber’s streak of excellence since returning from the disabled list, this could have gone down as his best outing if his defense gave him even the smallest amount of support. Bad infield defense cost him a Maddux, it’s as simple as that. If Francisco Lindor flips the ball like he should have, or if Jason Kipnis could throw, maybe the Indians would have found a way to win. Or maybe instead of writing this recap I’d be buckling up for seven more innings of 0-0 baseball. Either the Indians win or we get some Fourth of July weird baseball, both are better than what actually happened tonight.
The defense was not all atrocious, at least. Bradley Zimmer did another very Bradley Zimmer thing early on, preserving what was a shutout at the time with a heroic leaping grab.
This was his third such catch in the last week, and at this point he’s making it a thing. We knew he could fly around center field, but now we know he can fly in center fielder.
Unfortunately Zimmer, and everyone else not named Jose Ramirez, was awful at the plate. Zimmer had an especially bad at-bat when he tried to bunt twice with a runner on second and no outs, which I will never understand. It was a 1-0 game at the time, so bunting wouldn’t make much sense, anyway. But he ended up bunting himself into a bad count and striking out as a result.
The Indians did manage runners in scoring position in five innings of the nine innings they were required to slog through — including Carlos Santana making it to third with one out in the third. But clutch hitting was not a word in the Indians vocabulary tonight. They just couldn’t solve Trevor Cahill or the Padres bullpen; they finished with five total hits, two from Ramirez and two from Santana.
It’s not like Cahill’s approach was exactly mystifying, either. He threw the ball down. Then he threw it down again. Then he threw it down some more. But the Indians just didn’t seem to be able to read it. An impatient top of the order led by Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor swung at anything and everything low in the zone, resulting in a whole bunch of swings and misses. The only time the Tribe started to get to Cahill, who hadn’t started a game in two months prior to tonight, was when he got tired towards the end and saw his pitches floating up in the zone.
Even then, the Indians were still swinging away low.
“Hey guys, should we stop swinging at everything out of the zone?”
At least we got to witness Corey Kluber make history in our favorite team’s uniform, we’ll always have that. Unlike the Padres. They’ll never have that. Suck it, Padres.
BONUS RANDOM PHOTO FROM THE PHOTO TOOL HAPPY FUN TIMES
America was a mistake.