It feels wrong to spend a lot of time on the nuts and bolts of Corey Kluber’s rough outing before he took a come-backer off the forearm. So I won’t tell you that his velocity wasn’t great, he wasn’t locating anything, and he wasn’t deceptive whatsoever. I also won’t tell you the Indians lost to the lowly Marlins by a score of 4-2.
Instead, let’s just hope he’s OK. Because regardless of Kluber’s ineffectiveness tonight, a Corey Kluber that can be a solid three or four starter is infinitely better than one on the injured list. And more than that, I just want Corey Kluber to not be hurt on a human-to-human level.
Kluber took a 102 mile-per-hour line drive off the forearm, and seemed to absorb every bit of that raw speed, as the ball dropped straight to the ground on impact. If I learned anything from the physics class that I failed in my senior year of high school, the ball should have ripped right through Kluber and potentially created a hole in space-time. But it didn’t, because the human body is a wonderfully complex thing.
Here's the play of Corey Kluber getting hit in the arm by a line drive. Kluber has left the game and we will pass along any updates. pic.twitter.com/WE55U3p9sU— SportsTime Ohio (@SportsTimeOhio) May 2, 2019
He did everything he could to get out of the way, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re off balance with a small rocket coming straight for you. Kluber’s faced never so much as twitched when he went to flip the ball with his glove, or when the sadistic trainer decided to squeeze the spot where he was hit.
While it’s true that Kluber’s arm looked for-sure shattered when he refused to pick up the ball after getting hit, I’m not ready to slam that panic button. Every time one of these injuries look gruesome in real time, I try to remember that time in the 2017 ALDS when Edwin Encarnacion awkwardly stepped on second base and the collective Indians fan base was sure that he’d never walk again. Encarnacion turned out to be fine, and I have the same hope for Kluber.As this recap is being typed, Kluber is going an x-ray in the bowels of Marlins Park, and there’s still a tiny optimistic part of me that’s going to believe nothing is broken until the x-rays come back.
The opposite would, of course, be an absolute disaster. The entirety of the Indians’ plan for 2019 involves the rotation being other-wordly, and with Mike Clevinger already on the shelf, another injury is only going to make their other issues even more glaring.
Corey Kluber has a non-displaced fracture of his right ulna bone.— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 2, 2019
One of those issues, the offense, put up a couple hits, but outside of Roberto Pérez’s solo blast in the third and Jordan Luplow’s too-little-too-late double in the seventh (last-minute edit to include Carlos Santana’s ninth inning donger), they were completely shut down by lefty Caleb Smith. Losing to a lefty is an all too familiar story for Indians fans, but this was just a good pitcher pitching well. Including tonight, over his last four starts, Smith has allowed just two earned runs in 25 innings. Tonight, he sliced up the Indians lineup a slider that induced eight swinging strikes, and a change-up that no one could make any kind of contact on.
This game could have gotten out of hand fast with Kluber’s early injury and an anemic offense, but the bullpen put up a solid 3.1 innings of work in coverage. Maybe the Marlins just felt bad for Kluber, or maybe they’re actually bad themselves, but Dan Otero and Adam Cimber held the hitless over a combined 1.1 innings, while Neil Ramirez and Tyler Clippard held them to two hits and one earned run over the remaining 2.0.