Player of the Game
After a slow start to the season, Corey Kluber put together the best start by any Indians pitcher this year, today. He pitched a complete game, something that no Indians pitcher and only three other AL starters have accomplished this season. Kluber didn’t allow an earned run (the one earned run will be explained later) and struck out a career high eleven. When he wasn’t striking out batters, he was keeping the ball on the ground and the defense was a little bit better than normal in holding the Royals to four hits. His 11.19 POG score was the highest by any Indians player this season (previous high was 9.54 by David Murphy on April 8th).
Asdrubal Cabrera had himself a great day on the base paths today, although the stat sheet won’t show it. After making a tremendous defensive play in the first, Cabrera lead off the game with a single. He then took second on a passed ball and third when Bruce Chen tried to pick him off second and threw it into center. Cabrera then almost scored on a Jason Kipnis ground out to first, but was called out on a very close play. The play was reviewed and upheld. Later in the game, Cabrera doubled in two runs, but that wasn’t enough. Keeping his aggressiveness, he took third when a ball in the dirt barely trickled away from Brett Hayes.
Something that has been missing all season this year, the Indians finally had a big inning, knocking Bruce Chen from the game in the fifth. Carlos Santana started the inning with a double (3) and Michael Brantley followed with a single that scored him from second to give the Tribe the first lead of the day. Ryan Raburn then walked and Yan Gomes singled to load the bases. Not surprisingly, it was David Murphy who came through with the two RBI (17) slap hit down the left field line. After a Mike Aviles sacrifice bunt, Asdrubal Cabrera hit another double to score both Murphy and Gomes, giving the Indians their biggest offensive inning of the season.
This was a huge win for Cleveland as the improved on multiple facets of their game that had been problem areas. Kluber’s amazing start allowed the bullpen, one of few bright spots for the Tribe this year, to relax as he put out the top starting performance of the year. While just the fact that he pitched a complete game was of great held to the Tribe, he did it by pitching to his strength, forcing 12 ground outs. The defense, which came into the game worst in the AL in fielding percentage, made just one error and even made a couple extraordinary plays, including an impressive outfield assist from Michael Brantley. As already mentioned, the offense came through as well, although there, it was mostly the same two culprits, Brantley and Murphy, knocking in the runs.
Today was not a great day for Nick Swisher. In addition to striking his first three at bats, including twice with runners in scoring position, he was also responsible for the Royals only run. With a shut out going in the seventh inning, Kluber had already retired to batters with one on base. Nick Swisher then let a Mike Moustakas liner go under his glove and all the way down the line to score Omar Infante from first. Kluber struck out Alcides Escobar to finish the inning, but his shut out was gone, thanks to an unearned run.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 5 – Royals 1
On Deck: The Tribe heads to the West coast to take on the San Fransisco Giants and Tim Hudson, tomorrow night at 10:15 PM.