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Indians top Blue Jays, 3-1, en route to best start under Terry Francona

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Who knew you could get away with this little offense?

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s Recap in Gif Form

Actual Recap

Mike Clevinger and the Indians’ bullpen throttled the Blue Jays this afternoon with a final score of 3-1. The offense jumped to an early lead powered by a three-for-three day by Tyler Naquin and solid help from the rest of the middle of the order. The weekend sweep propelled the team to a 6-3 record—the best nine-game start for any Francona-skippered tribe team.

Early Scoring

A jolt from the middle of the order gave the Tribe the only runs it would need to maintain a lead throughout the afternoon. Carlos Santana followed up a two-out Jake Bauers double with a double of his own down the left field line. It’s worth noting that Bauer’s stroked his double; it would have been a home run had it carried another inch or been pulled slightly more. Tyler Naquin stepped up and blooped a single over the third baseman to score Santana. The inning concluded when Kevin Plawecki grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice.

Jose Ramirez added a third run in the bottom of the fifth by singling home Brad Miller. If you forgot that Brad Miller was on the team given his lack of time spent on base until today, you aren’t alone.

It’s good that the Indians struck early from the heart of the order, because not much else happened for the offense. After today’s game, the only players in the lineup hitting .200 or better are Santana and Naquin. As we all predicted, of course.

THE VERY EXCELLENT MIKE CLEVINGER SECTION OF THE RECAP

Lord, did he look good today.

Clevinger struck out ten in five innings, needing only 75 pitches to do so. Only one Blue Jays player managed to get a hit off of him.

Pretty much the only time he found himself in a jam was during the top of the fourth. He gave up a walk and a double with no outs, then proceeded to strike out the next three batters to avoid any damage.

Francona pulled him after the fifth inning and while many assumed he’d suffered a career-ending injury to both arms and his neck, it turns out he only had back tightness. Whew.

Clevinger’s departure didn’t make things any easier for the Blue Jays. They did, however, manage to break the shutout in the top of the 8th. Oliver Perez gave up a lead-off double and then walked the next batter. Francona called for Adam Cimber. Danny Jansen took the first pitch to right field for an RBI. Despite having thrown just one pitch, Cimber departed the mound and Hand came on for a lengthy save. He induced a double play to escape the inning.

He returned and shut the door with a 1-2-3 ninth, needing only 11 total pitches to record the last 5 outs.

What’s Next?

The Indians are off tomorrow night before traveling to Detroit for a 1:10 start on Tuesday. I’m not sure why they have so many early starts at the beginning of season. On a completely unrelated note, my work calendar suggests that I am attending many more webinars than usual.