After Corey Kluber took 28 pitches to get through the top of the first inning, including back to back walks, three strikeouts and a run, I wasn’t quite sure how this game would go. Kluber showed that he could get some outs, but he was also struggling with command. And against a good Braves team, things were poised to get out of hand quickly.
They did, but in a good way. The Tribe erupted and took game 1 of the doubleheader by a score of 8-4, thanks in large part to the (eventual) steady hand of Corey Kluber and an offensive explosion in the fifth inning (more on that in a bit).
But first, Corey Kluber
As mentioned above, Corey Kluber struggled mightily in the first inning. And all of his struggles began after he had struck out Ozzie Albies and Josh Donaldson to start the inning. But the trouble started after that when he walked a couple of batters (Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr.) back to back. In Kluber’s defense, home plate umpire Gerry Davis didn’t seem to understand the concept of a strikezone for most of the afternoon, but some of the fault lies at Kluber’s feet. He struggled to locate pitches, and it cost him in the form of an RBI single by Nick Markakis. Luckily, Kluber was able to punch out Dansby Swanson to limit the damage in the first inning.
Kluber settled in big time for the rest of the game. He lasted 7 innings, the final six of which only took 81 pitches after a 28 pitch first inning. The main change for Kluber was his ability to find the strike zone; in inning 1, his pitches went for strikes only 53% of the time. The rest of the game? 71%. His curve and cutter were especially killer today, inducing 8 swings and misses out of 15 total. His groundout of Dansby Swanson in the bottom of the third started a string of ten hitters in a row sat down by Kluber. The back to back home runs by Brian McCann and Matt Joyce in the seventh were a bit concerning, but by then the game was all but over thanks to the offensive explosion in the fifth inning. Which leads us to ...
The fifth inning
The offenses had been trading blows with one another for the first part of the game. The Tribe responded in the first with a bloop RBI by Carlos Santana to tie the game. Nick Markakis got a sac fly in the third to take the lead again, which was erased by Max Moroff’s first home run in Cleveland an inning later. And the fifth inning looked like it would be much of the same. Jason Kipnis struck out to start the inning and Carlos Santana (blessed be he) singled for the third time in the game. Jake Bauers struck out (thanks to some assistance by Gerry Davis) to bring up Greg Allen. Allen, as you may recall, has not hit well this season. It could be argued that he’s been horrendous. But not this inning. Greg Allen got a rally going that seemed like it would never end. Here’s how the rest of the inning played out.
- Greg Allen double (Santana scores)
- Tyler Naquin single (Allen scores)
- Kevin Plawecki walk
- Max Moroff single (Naquin scores)
- Leonys Martin single (Plawecki scores)
- José Ramírez walk
- Jason Kipnis single (Martin scores)
- Carlos Santana line out
All in all, the Tribe exploded for six runs in the fifth inning to put the game to bed early. This allowed Terry Francona to run with Kluber a bit longer than he may have otherwise, which is fantastic on a doubleheader game day. The Indians offense went back to their usual slumber the rest of the way (the only other baserunner was Kevin Plawecki’s second walk of the day in the seventh), but for one glorious inning, everyone was hitting, walking, running and scoring.
Tidbits: A Tribe edition
- Coming into today, the Indians had scored 47% of their runs on the season after making two outs in an inning. That number surely went up as they added another six two-out runs this afternoon.
- The Tribe ran wild on catcher Brian McCann today, swiping three bags. One of these stolen bases was by Carlos Santana. Is there anything this many cannot do?
- I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the absolutely awful bunt attempt by Jake Bauers in the third inning. I’m not sure if Tito called for this bunt as a way to get Kipnis home from third or if Bauers did it on his own. Regardless, it was a terrible decision (especially with a pitcher struggling to find the strike zone, which Julio Teheran was) that resulted in Kipnis getting tagged out at home.
- LGFT Josh Tomlin came in to pitch the eighth. Cleveland responded:
Josh Tomlin gets a nice round of applause as he takes his warmup pitches on the mound.— Mandy Bell (@MandyBell02) April 20, 2019
I apologize if this recap seems a bit truncated. Game 2 starts *checks watch* right now! Tune in and see if the Tribe can nab two wins in one day!