Before the start of Thursday’s game, STO showed Matt Underwood and Rick Manning in horrid matching green golf shirts. I was at House of Swing (Where Jazz Is King) with my old buddy John, and the sound on the TV was down, so we couldn’t hear what they were saying. All that came across was a putrid shade of green.
Somehow that was an appropriate color for very green pitcher Corey Kluber, who made his first major league start (he appeared in three games last September in relief). The 26-year-old Kluber has spent the entire 2012 in Columbus, where he went 11-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 21 starts. We acquired Kluber from San Diego in July 2010 as part of the trade that sent Jake Westbrook to St. Louis. With Kluber’s first pitch of his first major league start, he gave up a home run to Kansas City’s Alex Gordon. Thus began a half inning that spawned a million drinks, as Indians fans everywhere realized it was going to be a long night.
When the inning ended seven years (or perhaps only about 40 minutes) later, Kansas City had scored 6 runs on 6 hits, including a three-run homer by Eric Hosmer. The Royals ended up going through the order, and the inning ended with Gordon striking out (and looking kind of surprised in a “Gee, that’s not what happened last time” sort of way). By this time, Kluber had thrown 45 pitches and looked as though he had aged a few years.
And then a funny thing happened. The Indians scored one run in the top of the second, which isn’t funny so much as a pleasant surprise. The more unusual thing was that Kluber came out in the bottom of the second and retired KC 1-2-3, including a strike out of Billy Butler to end the inning. I don’t know what Manny Acta or pitching coach Scott Radinsky said to him, but it worked. Kluber didn’t allow any more runs and gave up just three more hits. Kluber ended up pitching 3.1 really good innings to follow up that one awful, horrible, very bad inning. Even more unusual, the Indians kept scoring runs–3 runs in the 3rd and 2 more on a Carlos Santana home run to tie it 6-6 in the 5th. Granted 4 of those runs came off a guy (Bruce Chen) who started the night with a 5.49 ERA, but still, it was nice to see the Indians hit the ball around and score some runs. And it was very nice to see Santana get a dinger. But after all that, we still lost 7-6 in extra innings on an Alcides Escobar walk-off single that scored Eric Hosmer.
This was a long (3:41), painful game. I don’t know if the fact that it took 11 innings for the Indians to lose means we’re getting a teensy tiny bit better than we’ve been playing or if the zombie is just taking longer to kill each night. We’ve now lost 6 games in a row and 11 of our last 14 games. That’s 3-11 over the last two weeks. You know what a Cleveland fan calls a 3-11 record? A typical season for the Browns.