Sometimes you just annihilate the other ball club.
Cleveland rolled through this entire series against the White Sox, capping off the sweep with a 9-1 victory. Corey Kluber dominated in the six innings that he pitched, striking out ten and allowing three hits without a walk. No one scored. This means that Kluber now owns the American League record for most consecutive starts in which he allows three runs or fewer, at 24. He’s approaching an entire season’s worth of quality starts back-to-back.
Kluber could have pitched longer, but since the offense decided to explode again today, Francona pulled him at 90 pitches. The first five hitters in the Indians lineup combined for ten hits, two walks, eight runs, and three RBI. Melky Cabrera plated three from the six-hole with a double and a sacrifice fly, and Yan Gomes also chipped in with a useful sac fly RBI.
The offense didn’t waste much time helping out Kluber
The bulk of this scoring happened in the third and fourth innings, capped by back-to-back solo shots by Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion. If you’d told me that Jose Ramirez would out-slug Encarnacion at the time of his free agent signing, I’d have chuckled. If you told me it would be by .150 points, I’d punch myself because obviously no one would say something so ridiculous in a not-dream. Here I am in reality with a bruised arm.
To round out the Indians who contributed at the plate today, Erik Gonzalez added a hit and a walk. He is now hitting .372/.413/.581, which is a set of numbers that makes absolutely no sense at all. I’m not mad, I’m just confused. His BABIP is somewhere like .490 after today, but he’s also making medium-to-hard contact 83% of the time with an average exit velo of 92 MPH. Baseball Savant puts his xSlash at .308/.352/.469, so it’s not like he’s just getting lucky doubles.
The Bullpen also looked good
This is true of the entire series — they allowed four earned runs in 9.1 innings of work — but especially nice today. Jeff Beliveau, Evan Marshall, and Ben Taylor pitched three solid innings today, with the only run allowed coming on a top-of-the-ninth home run by Yolmer Sanchez. The shutout would have been nice, but it’s not like Taylor gave up the solo shot and then struggled out of a bases-loaded jam. Also, this is the best our bullpen looked in a series since... 2017, probably. I’m not saying that more help wouldn’t be appreciated, but it’s nice to go an entire series without needing your closer.
The White Sox defense is just terrible
With two more errors today, they logged five in the series and sit at 40 for the season, trailing only the Dodgers and the Rangers. DRS is a little bit kinder to the White Sox, as it claims they are “only” the sixth worst defense in the entire game.
The Indians take their 29-25 record on the road to Minnesota, where darling-of-the-blog Shane Bieber makes his first start tomorrow night at 8:10 PM. We have a few articles to cover the momentous occasion today and tomorrow.
For now, let’s just bask in the afterglow of another wonderful game.