Player of the Game
They say when it rains it pours (as it did during the short 17 minute rain delay in Chicago tonight) and the Indians offense is no exception. Following five games without an offensive POG score of 6.00 or more, the Indians had two hitters reach that number tonight (Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn) and two more scoring over 3.00 (Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis). Raburn was the best of the bunch, with a three run home run in the first and a two run single later on for a final POG score of 10.11, the best by an Indians player in the past 45 games. The team POG score of ….. made this the best game since the sixth game of the year when the Indians beat the Rays 13-0.
Nick Swisher started things off right in the first inning, hitting a solo home run on the second pitch he saw, after complaining about the first pitch being called a strike. Things didn't slow down afterward either, with Ryan Raburn hitting a three run home run in his first at bat back from his calf injury, later in the inning. The three run hit gave him his team leading ninth three RBI game of the year, despite playing in just 74. Even the players who didn't hit home runs in the inning hit the ball hard, including an out at the warning track by Asdrubal Cabrera and a double to deep center by Yan Gomes.
The Indians continued the scoring throughout the game as well, with an RBI double by Jason Kipnis and a sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles adding to the tally. The Indians hadn't scored more than four runs in their past four games (they did it just twice in their past ten games) so putting six on the board before the end of the third inning was a welcome relief.
The Indians success against left handed pitching this year continued tonight, a huge departure from last season where a left handed starter almost certainly meant a loss for the Tribe. This bodes well for the rest of the series as well as the White Sox will throw two more left handers in the final three games. Their 27-19 record against LHP this season is the best in the central division and already 11 wins higher than in 2012 (18-35).
The lopsided score allowed the Indians to test a couple of parts that hadn't seen game time to this point. Josh Tomlin came in relief for Kluber and threw strikes, the most important part of his game. He could be an important part of the team for the rest of the month if either Scott Kazmir or Danny Salazar need to be shut down, but it is hard to trust a pitcher who hasn't thrown a pitch in the Majors this year. Kelly Shoppach also got his first game appearance, but wasn't as successfully, committing an error on his first play in the field.
Scoreboard Watch: The AL Wild Card 2 leading Tampa Bay Rays managed to avoid a sweep against Boston, keeping the Indians and Yankees at bay for the moment. The Yankees also won, beating Baltimore late to move even further ahead of the Orioles. New York remains just a half game ahead of the Indians and is going on to play a tough three game series in Boston while the Indians play the smelly socks in Chicago.
Pouring rain, nasty winds and Kelly Shoppach made this a very sloppy game. In addition to the White Sox three errors (all of which allowed Indians base runners to reach safely, the strong winds caused Cabrera and Swisher to miss fly balls as well. Neither were called errors as Swisher's was a difficult play on a foul ball and Cabrera was able to throw to second to get the lead runner, but you never want the weather to effect the game more than the players.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 14 – Chicago White Sox 3