Here’s a fun fact that somehow slipped through my mind: Corey Kluber has won 18 games in three of his last four seasons. No, not at least 18 games. Exactly 18 games, with the only exception being the bizarro world 2015 season where the offense refused to hit with him on the mound.
Wins really do not matter for a pitcher, of course, but when it’s for a fun little milestone like this I think it’s fine to point it out. Corey Kluber is a great pitcher with a new lower-strikeout, lower-walk look in 2018, and he’s better than ever by at least one metric — albeit a useless one — with his 19th win. And a chance to go for at least a couple more before the season ends. That’s neat.
Another side note on Kluber’s insane consistency, his ground ball rate was exactly 44.5 percent the last two seasons and it sat at 44.3 entering this game. That’s not even something he can easily control down to the tenth of a percent. The man is a machine, I don’t care if he doesn’t like the Klubot nickname, it’s true.
Tonight, we saw more of the old-school, gunslinger Kluber with 11 strikeouts and a lot of baffled White Sox batters. His cutter was particularly nasty, inducing 12 swinging strikes and located all around the edge of the zone. It was his slider, especially, that was located well, fooling batters for 13 called strikes.
All of this with a strikezone that I can nicely call inconsistent. Not even just against Corey Kluber. In fact, I’d say home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski was mostly fair to Kluber. A couple egregious mysterious balls, but not bad overall.
But poor Carlos Rodon was destroyed by bad call after bad call.
Just not a great night for blue behind the plate, and the Indians were able to take advantage.
They were outhit by the White Sox, 7-9, but they had ‘em when it counted. Jason Kipnis’ solo shot aside (which was hit at a pedestrian 92.1 miles per hour, but led to this great celebration), the Indians were able to score in bunches and with that annoying 2015 Royals slap-happy way of generating runs with a bunch of doubles and timely singles. It’s infuriating to watch happen to your team, but pretty great to have your team execute.
The scoring opened with Melky Cabrera doubling a run home in the second. That alone isn’t important, unless you’re compiling evidence that Melky is some kind of anti-aging demon. No, the big thing here was that Josh Donaldson huffed it from first to home on the play, having to keep the jets turned on the whole way around and somehow his calves didn’t explode into gory confetti on the infield.
If you’re here for Kipnis defense watch, he was able to snag one hit directly to him, and he might have blown a route early on that he probably should have had a better line on but might not have caught it anyway. You can see on the hit chart, he took this weird little loop instead of anticipating where it was going — it’s hard to tell on video if he lurched forward or was just late picking up the ball, too. Either way, it led to a double.
That feels like the type of play that is no worry now and it just gives him something to work on, but Lindor help us if that happens with Carlos Correa batting in the bottom of the ninth in a couple weeks.
We also got to see Yandy Diaz single on a ball that could hardly be considered a line drive, but with a five-degree launch angle and 104.2 mile-per-hour exit velocity, it lasered(ish?) for a single. Hell yeah.