The Cleveland Indians took another step toward 100 wins on the season, and Corey Kluber added another quality start to his Cy Young resume with a 4-2 win against the Seattle Mariners. Big hits from Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Kipnis, and Jose Ramirez paced the offense to carry the team on an afternoon when the defense faltered at times.
Here are things that happened during the game in an unfocused, fuzzy approximation of chronological order
Scoring opened in the 4th inning when Encarnacion doubled home Ramirez after a single and a steal (Zimmerdouble™) of his own. Kipnis’s double a batter later scored Encarnacion.
The Mariners tied it up in the 5th thanks to an error by Giovanny Urshela. Mike Zunino slapped a ball toward the hole between short and third; Gio got leather on the ball but couldn’t snap it up. Then, he kicked it. Then, he lunged at it and missed it. Francisco Lindor scooped it up and started to throw to first, but he held up when it became clear he wouldn’t catch the catcher. Kluber retired the next two hitter, but Ben Gamel turned on a first-pitch fastball that found the bleachers. Had the rest of the game unfolded differently, I feel certain that this image would have once again been relevant.
Lindor later booted a ball that didn’t come back to bite the Tribe. These errors were balanced out by a phenomenal catch by Professional Everything Austin Jackson. Sprinting back to the wall, Jackson leapt and snatched an almost certain double out of the air. He landed, planted, and threw to Lindor, who snapped a throw to Encarnacion, completing a double play.
Jackson often feels like the quiet hero of the roster to me. He’s got 2 WAR, which is easily his best output since his mid-twenties. He’s also done that in fewer than 300 plate appearances.
Like Jackson’s glove, the three Indians bats that didn’t snooze throughout the afternoon came through again in the second half of the game. Ramirez blasted a line drive to lead off the 6th to straightaway center field. Flying at 103.3 MPH and a 20 degree launch angle, it hurried out of the park. Kipnis added an insurance run in the top of the 8th courtesy of a sacrifice fly.
So, I’m not saying that two innings from Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen are basically guaranteed to lead to a win when they Indians are up two; I think it’s the statistics that are. They shut the Mariners down to hand Kluber his AL-leading 18th win, which normally I wouldn’t care about, but every little resume boost is going to help him win his 2nd Cy Young award. I’m mainly worried that voters are going to give it to Chris Sale using DiCaprio oscar logic — he should have won a few by now, and this year is good enough, so let’s just get the man a trophy.
How is the Jason Kipnis-in-center thing going?
I mean, nobody died yet. He’s played 23 innings or so in the field out there and converted on the only putout chance he had. There was another fly ball that he didn’t charge quite quickly enough on and played it on the hop, but he’s practically standing with his heels on the warning track out there to keep everything in front of him.
The most important thing to me is his bat. Remember, peak Jason Kipnis once recorded fifty hits in a single month. Since his return this season, he owns five hits, two doubles, and three RBI in 15 plate appearances.
That’ll do, Kip. That’ll do.
Are the Indians good at baseball?
It seems that way. With 98 wins, they trail the Dodgers by only a single game in the win column for the best record in baseball. The Astros are three games back in the American League, which bodes well for the Indians’ chances of forcing any AL team to conquer the corner of Carnegie and Ontario before proceeding to the World Series.
The Indians get the day off tomorrow night before starting the second-to-last series of the regular season against the Twins. Someone mentioned this on twitter - it is possible for the Twins to clinch the second Wild Card spot while being swept by the Indians.
That would be glorious.