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Kluber cruises, offense bruises as Indians top Tigers to take series

Some unusual suspects contributed to the 8-1 score line.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

What might have been a depressing weekend after a loss feels buoyant after a blowout.

The Indians took two out of three in the weekend series, capping it off with an 8-1 victory behind Corey Kluber this afternoon. From the second inning on the Indians held a comfortable lead, and man, does it always feel good to thrash the Tigers.

De-fragmentation Complete?

Kluber didn’t struggle for a moment of today’s ballgame, drawing a sharp contrast to his last month of play. In a little more than seven innings of work the 2-time Cy Young winner sat down five, walked one, allowed a run, and limited the Tigers to five hits. A strikeout-to-walk ratio of five and a WHIP below 1.00? A curveball that warps from the middle of the plate to the other batter’s box? Yes, there are signs that Corey Kluber may now be fine.

The game went so well that it might have been tempting for Terry Francona to keep him in to finish the eighth inning. We’ve talked a few times about how late into game Indians starter’s pitch; on more than one occasion there has been some anger about leaving Kluber in too long. Today, Francona limited him to 94 pitches and refused to let him labor.

Sometimes I don’t know anything about baseball

I called out Rajai Davis and Melky Cabrera in the introduction to the game thread as the main reasons that Chris Antonetti would be contacting other teams about trades during the Hall of Fame ceremonies. Throughout the season they’ve been two of the Indians’ worst hitters.

Because I felt the need to point this out, they were the two best today.

Cabrera hit a home run and two singles while Rajai Davis added a triple and two doubles. The only other Indians with three hits on the day was Yonder Alonso, who homered, doubled, and tripled. Every Indians starter got at least one hit today except for Jose Ramirez.

Throughout the radio broadcast Tom Hamilton mentioned several times that Ramirez had been hitless in his last six games (now seven). This is true. It is also true that Jose Ramirez has reached base in all seven games thanks to twelve walks. He’s also earned two RBIs thanks to sacrifice hits, including one today.

Tidy Bullpen Work

Francona reached for Brad Hand when Kluber left the ballgame this afternoon. He made short work of the Tigers for the two remaining outs that inning, needing only six pitches to do it. Not to be outdone — and possibly confused about why he was entering the game — Adam Plutko retired the side in the bottom of the ninth of six pitches as well.

Overall the Indians threw only 106 pitches today. Eighty of those were strikes. Efficiency is a beautiful thing.

Final Thoughts

There’s still something a bit odd to me about this year’s team. A piece in the outfield is needed for the second year in a row in order to bolster the lineup. We snagged some much-needed bullpen help. Still, things need to coalesce over the next couple of months. I don’t think anyone is catching Boston for the #1 overall position, and the West and Central are pretty much sewn-up as well. I welcome the probably matchup with the Astros because I think it’s going to be a blast, but I still wonder what kind of identity the team can forge between now and October.

I hate recalling the 2016 team all of the time, but that group seemed to know they were riding something special by the All-Star break and played every night with that in mind. I didn’t feel that last year until August 24th, when The Streak began. I’d like to see it happen a bit earlier this year. I don’t know how much that actually helps a team win, but it feels like it does. I think of myself as a relatively well-educated fan but that particular hand-wavy intangible is one I can’t really shake.