Corey Kluber does not have good 1st innings. Going into Friday’s game against the Yankees, his 1st inning ERA was 22.50.
Yes, seriously. 22.50. It’s as though the Baseball Gods just like messing with his head.
I will give the young pitcher credit for his focus and ability to calm down. His first inning tonight started off looking horrid, with back-to-back doubles to Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher, which put the Yankees up 1-0 after only two batters. Somehow, Kluber managed to get out of the inning without giving up any more runs. In the second inning, Kluber struck out Raul Ibanez and then promptly gave up a single, hit Jeter with a pitch that landed on the brim of his batting helmet, and walked Swisher to load the bases. Then he got Robinson Cano to hit into a double play to get out of the inning. Hitting into double plays with the bases loaded is an area in which the Indians excel, but apparently sometimes the Baseball Gods like to mix it up.
I kept waiting for Sabathia to bean one of our guys in retaliation for Jeter’s beaning. It didn’t happen and it didn’t happen, and I thought perhaps they realized that the pitch hadn’t been on purpose. Still, the pitch did hit Mr. Yankee on the head. Finally, in the 4th, it happened. Sabathia threw inside to Asdrubal Cabrera and just missed hitting him. And lucky that it did, because Cabrera hit the next pitch for a solo home run. Yankees 1. Indians 1. Baseball Gods 3.
In the 5th inning, Kluber had men on 2nd and 3rd with only one out, and then managed to get out of it by striking out Mark Teixeira and getting Curtis Granderson to pop out. I was feeling oddly hopeful, as though after toying with our team all through the month of August, the Baseball Gods were going to give us a break. (Going into tonight’s game, we were 4-17 for the month of August, which is so miserable as to seem statistically improbable.) It looked hopeful in the bottom of the 5th. I don’t generally feel warm, fuzzy, or confident when Matt LaPorta and Shelley Duncan come to bat, and yet they both singled. And then Jason Donald came up and was hit by Sabathia’s first pitch to load the bases. (I have never been so happy to see anyone get beaned.) And Jason Kipnis, who may be slumping but was still hitting .342 with runners in scoring position, was up. It was then, when Kipnis hit a weak grounder to first to end the inning, that I realized the Baseball Gods had suddenly decided to switch sides. Just for kicks.
In case anyone wasn’t sure that the Baseball Gods had decided to switch allegiances, they made it clear in the top of the 7th when Cody Allen, who hadn’t given up a run in his first 13.2 innings as a major leaguer, gave up a two-run homer to Nick Swisher to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Indians fans haven’t had much to be happy about lately but Allen’s 0.00 ERA had at least been one teensy little bright spot.
And just to prove that we are the Baseball Gods’ personal little catnip toy, in the bottom of the 9th, the Indians had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and didn’t score. Then it was bases loaded with two outs and, of course, we still didn’t score. A loss from a game we could have won.
I remember the halcyon days of May when we were counting the number of games in Michael Brantley’s hitting streak instead of the number of games in our latest losing streak (we’re up to 9 now). However, the Baseball Gods, like gravity, are heartless.