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Awakened Indians offense backs a dominant Corey Kluber in 6-5 win over Mariners

Sources confirm that giving Corey Kluber a four-run lead early in the game is a good thing.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Cleveland Indians Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports




Sorry, I just wanted this recap to start the way the game did. You know, get you into the feel of it before we break down how exactly the Cleveland Indians offense, the worst in baseball to this point, racked up six runs against the Seattle Mariners.

Answer: It was a lot of home runs. Too many? Probably not, but seeing some other hits would be nice.

Don’t let my brilliant intro fool you, though. The Indians offense wasn’t dominant through the whole nine innings. There were pockets where they still looked like the zombified, limbless remains of a once-great offense, but they also exploded for five home runs — all solo — and Michael Brantley continued to be the Tribe’s biggest offense weapon. Both of those are great when they are happening once in a while, but they also sort of lead into the issues that the Indians have been having to this point. No one is getting on base, which is fine if everyone hits home runs, but we’ve already seen that cannot happen every single night. And if Michael Brantley is going to be the biggest contributor on offense, it’d be nice if he wasn’t the only one (save for Jose Ramirez) for days at a time.

In the at-bats between Edwin’s first-inning home run to give the Indians a 3-0 lead and Yonder Alonso leading off the sixth with his team-leading seventh home run of the season, Wade LeBlanc (yes, the Wade LeBlanc), held the Indians to four hits over four innings with four strikeouts. The Indians scored in that time frame, thanks to a sacrifice fly from Brantley, but they didn’t look like the same offense that killed the ball thrice in the first inning.

Regardless, everything clicked enough tonight that it worked, and it was exciting and it’s all I want out of this team right now.

Despite not partaking in the home run party, Tyler Naquin added a pair of solid hits. And as Andre Knott noted during the broadcast, Naquin has hit the ball hard all season long. I don’t know if Andre was going by the ‘ole reliable eye test or if he knew the numbers ahead of time, but in fact Naquin is smashing the baseball. Coming into tonight he had a 43.8 hard-hit percentage, the highest on the Indians. Tonight that culminated in a double and a single hit 102.9 and 98.7 miles per hour, respectively.

Brantley’s hot hot night came within a double of the cycle, and a few feet shy of a two-home-run night, when he tripled to center field for the Tribe’s first three-bagger of the season. It came on a hit with a 29-degree launch angle that flew off the bat at 104.2 miles per hour. Right in the barrel zone for a 92 percent hit probability. Now, most of the time, that 92 percent rings true because balls hit like that leave the yard. But it’s cold in Cleveland, so it dropped in the warning track and confused the heck out of Dee Gordon.

I mean, just...

Gordon had another bizarre misplay in the outfield, but it looked more like his knee gave out, or the ground was softer than he expected. This attempted catch on Brantley’s 388-foot blooper, though. Woof.

And of course I wasn’t going to conclude this recap without gushing about Corey Kluber, who is now 1,209,408 and 0 when given a four-run lead in his career. The Ace of Aces was dominant through exactly 8.2 innings with one bad pitch hit hard for a home run. Kluber relied on his sinker and cutter throughout the game, with the former inducing 12 called strikes and the latter inducing nine swings and misses. If I had more time I’d supercut all the times Matt Underwood sounded like he was getting a really good back rub (because this is a PG-13 website) when Mariners pitchers just sat and stared at wiffle ball two-seamers. But alas, you’ll just have to take my word for it that everyone in the booth — and at home, I’m sure — was really enjoying the show tonight.

Then there was the curious decision to bring Corey Kluber, who was already over 100 pitches, out for the ninth inning. I get wanting to let him get his complete game, but it’s April. It wasn’t even a shutout. You have Cody Allen. Just do the thing. Kluber almost did the whole dang thing himself, but robot umpires still aren’t a thing and a pretty obvious game-ending strike was missed. Corey ended up giving up a walk, Cody Allen gave up a rare home run and I almost had to re-write 90 percent of this recap.

Luckily that didn’t happen. Indians win.