Kluber, Carrasco Salvage Series against Yankees
Series Result: Indians win series over Yankees 2-1
Game 1: New York 10 Cleveland 6
Game 2: Cleveland 3 New York 0
Game 3: Cleveland 4 New York 1
“Where’s Corey Kluber”, is probably what most of you are thinking. However, Carrasco in a spot start was able to go 5 innings, giving up only 2 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, and struck out 4. Many people thought that Carrasco would blow up in his return to the rotation; instead he held his own and gave the Indians a chance to win.
Bauer just didn’t have his stuff; in fact he looked like the Trevor Bauer from last year. Considering he needs to be our #2 starter, he needs to pitch better every game if the Indians want to make things interesting.
Game 1: Walking a thin line
My triumphant return to the series recap! After sweeping the Rangers, the Indians fell on their face against the Reds, dropping 3 of 4. They headed to New York, a place that has not been kind to them of late. The Indians scored first in this game, against former Indians reliever Esmil Rogers (traded to Toronto for Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles). Carlos Santana singled in Jason Kipnis to start the game and gave the Tribe a 1-0 lead. Armed with the early lead, Trevor Bauer took the mound, and struck out Brett Gardner; things were looking good one batter in. Derek Jeter singled to give him 3,430 career hits, Jacoby Ellsbury walked, then Carlos Beltran singled in Jeter to tie the game. Brian McCann walked to load the bases, then Chase Headley walked to bring in a run, and give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Stephen Drew (hitting a meager .176) singled in another run to make it 3-1, then Martin Prado singled to bring in McCann, Headley then scored on a Jason Kipnis throwing error to give the Yankees a 5-1 in the 1st inning. Bauer would go on to settle down, but was only able to go 3 1/3 innings; his line would read: 6 hits, 5 runs, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts, throwing 79 pitches. Over Bauer’s last 3 starts, he seems like he may be tiring. Here are is numbers: 0-2, 15 innings, 20 hits, 13 runs, 9 walks, 10 strikeouts, with a 7.80 ERA.
The Indians were able to cut into the lead in the 6th, when David Murphy drove in Michael Brantley to make it a 5-2 game. Then in usual Indians fashion (man, I’m tired of talking about this), the Indians gave that run and more right back to the Yankees. John Axford came back on to pitch the bottom of the 6th (after retiring one batter in the 5th), and he walked the first two batters he faced. Following a Derek Jeter sac bunt, Axford intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases for Carlos Beltran. We all kind of knew this would happen, because when Axford can’t locate, the long balls tend to follow, as Beltran hit a bases clearing home run, also known as a grand slam, which gave the Yankees a 9-2 lead. Before things were all said and done, the Yankees came out of the inning with a 10-2 lead. Leave it to the Tribe to make things a little interesting though. In the top of the 7th inning, the Indians loaded the bases with no outs; Michael Brantley singled and Carlos Santana doubled to make it a 10-5 deficit, David Murphy followed with a sac fly to make it 10-6, and the Tribe faithful were all expecting a comeback (okay, probably not). The Yankees were able to hold the Indians off the board the rest of the way though, and got away with a 10-6 victory over the Tribe. Luckily in baseball, momentum is only is good as the next day’s starting pitcher.
Game 2: Kluber starts, Yankees stop
And that starting pitcher’s name is Corey Kluber. I’m running out of words to describe Kluber. Thumbing through my thesaurus, the word virtuoso stands out. Kluber clearly did not have his best stuff going on Saturday, as evidence by him throwing 109 pitches in just 6 innings of work. Kluber was still dominant, allowing 0 runs on 4 hits, walking 1, and striking out 10 (pushing his season total to 187). Kluber’s WAR is now 5.2 making him the second best pitcher in the AL, behind only Felix Hernandez. I have already brought up this stat before, but I’ll throw Yan Gomes into the equation now. The Indians top three players have a combine WAR of 14.0 (Kluber – 5.2, Brantley – 4.8, Gomes – 4.0). If you took those three players off the team and replaced them with average players, the Indians would have a record of 45-73, worst in the MLB. This is an Indians team that needs everyone to perform in order to win, but in reality only three players have stepped up to the challenge.
The scoring got started in the 2nd inning when Jose Ramirez launched his first career home run, a 2-run shot to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. As Tom Hamilton pointed out over the weekend, Ramirez has provided the Tribe with the best defense at shortstop since the days of Omar Vizquel. In the bottom of the 6th, history was made when Derek Jeter hit an infield single. That hit moved Jeter in 6th place on the All-time hit list, passing Honus Wagner. Michael Brantley gave the Indians some much needed insurance when he hit his 17th home run to give the Indians a 3-0 lead. Scott Atchison, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen were able to hold the game, and then save it, as the Tribe walked away with a 3-0 win.
Game 3: Carrasco comes up big in spot start
Uh oh, Carlos Carrasco starting? How desperate are the Indians? Well, for once the Indians seemed to know what they were doing, when they gave Carrasco the spot start. Had Carrasco not been given the spot start out of the bullpen, he would have been able to go longer in the game. As it stand Carrasco went 5 innings, throwing 77 pitches, allowing 0 runs on 2 hits, walking none, and striking out 4. Since being moved to the bullpen Carrasco has a 2.06 ERA in 48 innings, striking out 43 and walking 9. While Carrasco may have looked good in the start, I hope the Indians keep him in the bullpen, where he can feature his high 90’s fastball. The Indians continued their trend of scoring first, when Michael Brantley had a RBI single in the 1st, and a sac fly in the 3rd to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Brantley projects to put up season numbers of: .324 BA, 106 runs, 43 doubles, 23 HR, 104 RBI’s, and 18 SB. The last Indians player to put up those numbers was Roberto Alomar in 1999. Yan Gomes got the Indians other 2 RBI’s, with a bases loaded walk in the 5th, and an RBI single in the 7th to extend the lead to 4-0. The Indians almost made team history. As they had the chance to shutout the Yankees in 2 straight games at Yankee Stadium for the first time ever, but Cody Allen gave up a home run to Jacoby Ellsbury. Allen was able to finish out the game, as the Tribe won by a score of 4-1 to move back to .500 at 59-59. There were some notable injuries in this series, as both David Murphy and Nick Swisher hit the 15-day DL. Don’t fret Tribe fans as both of these players WAR is negative. So their absence could be a good thing.
Up Next: The Indians return to Progressive Field with a quick 2-game inter-league series against the Arizona Diamonbacks
–Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images