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Indians lose again, but it wasn’t the bullpen’s fault this time


Cleveland Indians  v Milwaukee Brewers
There’s a lot to unpack with this image.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Hey there, hope you enjoyed your off-day yesterday. Anyway, baseball is back is and the Cleveland Indians still aren’t very good at it. They probably will be eventually, but they sure as heck aren’t right now.

Back in my day, that meant the bullpen would struggle and give up a crushing home run in the final couple innings, but tonight it was the offense, and bizarrely enough Corey Kluber, who couldn’t get things done. But keep in mind that Kluber “not getting it done” is giving up three earned runs.

All three of Kluber’s runs tonight came on home runs, the first a two-run shot from third baseman Travis Shaw and the other a solo home run from Brent Suter, whose position I refuse to disclose in this recap. That’s now 11 home runs Kluber has given up this season, putting him on pace to surrender roughly 1,056.36 this season. No, wait I might’ve messed up the math on that one. Hang on. It’s closer to 33 dingers assuming another 200-inning season at his current rate of 10 home runs every 58.1 innings. That’s still not great.

Kluber didn’t exactly look sharp tonight, but considering he’s — you know — the best dang pitcher that ever lived, he toughed it out for six innings of work. It’s kind of like that Josh Tomlin outing last week when he gave up four runs and stumbled his way to seven innings. Except in this case, Kluber actually rebounded and looked better as the game went on, retiring the final six batters he faced.

The defense behind Kluber, and later on the bullpen, was pretty terrible, but it ended up being mostly a non-factor. The Milwaukee Brewers were victims of poor sequencing and couldn’t seem to hit Kluber after an error, instead option for lead-off walks and hits. When Manny Pina got on base because Jason Kipnis and Brandon Guyer collided in shallow right field, Orlando Arcia lined out to second. When Jason Kipnis butchered an easy grounder hit by the pitcher to lead off the fifth inning, Kluber never let another batter reach first base. And when Edwin Encarnacion missed maybe the easiest catch attempt you’ll ever see with your own human eyes, Zach McAllister battled through a million-pitch at-bat and even remembered how to throw a curveball for a strikeout.

This was one of those rare games (or at least they seem rare lately) where the bullpen didn’t totally collapse. They were on the verge of it, but Zach McAllister of all people saved the day with the bases loaded and two outs only to have the offense go belly up in the bottom top half of the ninth to end the close contest. So good on them.

I guess we can count this game as a sort-of progress? It looked like the offense was going to roll against Wade Miley until he went down with an injury, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because other than solo shots from Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, the Tribe offense couldn’t find a way to hit the Brewers bullpen.

At least it wasn’t another walk-off homer.