Earlier today, when I wrote the little blurb for tonight’s open thread, I looked up John Danks’s stats against the Indians this year. The only time he saw them, he allowed just one earned run and two hits over six innings pitched. With the way the offense looked over the past few days, it kind of filled me with dread. I know it was only one game, but they’ve had trouble with Danks at times in the past. I figured it wouldn’t take much to shut them down at this point. However, the Indians hit him hard and hit him early. Then when he left, they put a few more runs up against the bullpen for good measure. (I’m really hoping they managed to save some runs for the rest of this series). Maybe I just need to criticize them and have no faith in them – I said I was afraid Danks would shut them down, and they clobbered him. The Indians now have a nine-game winning streak against the White Sox this season, the longest streak against them in franchise history. They haven’t won this many games against the White Sox in a season since 1968.
As I said, the Indians jumped on Danks immediately as Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn both took him deep in the first inning. The Indians were already up 4-0 before the White Sox ever came to bat. They continued to add on, until they erupted for seven against Charlie Leesman in the fifth inning. All seven runs were scored before the White Sox even recorded an out in the top of the fifth – outside of an Asdrubal Cabrera solo home run, the rest of the runs were scored via a number of walks and singles. Even though it was obviously a very bad night for Leesman, I still saw that as a pretty positive development for the offense. It seems like they’ve had trouble stringing together hits in order to produce a big inning. Many of their multi-run bursts often come courtesy of the long ball. Michael Bourn has really struggled lately, but he went 2 for 4 with an RBI, and the Indians got another big performance from Ryan Raburn. He continues to just crush left-handed pitching – coming into tonight, against lefties this season Raburn’s hitting .317/.417/.671, for a 1.087 OPS. Against righties, Raburn is hitting .246/.336/.517 for an .853 OPS – that’s not shabby either, but it’s clear that Raburn should be starting in every game with a left-handed pitcher (unless his injury has flared up). Every starter had an RBI tonight except for Yan Gomes and Drew Stubbs – and Gomes went 2 for 3 and Stubbs went 3 for 4. Just pretty big nights all around for Tribe hitters.
One of the things that are nice about games like this in September is that you have a bunch of extra players on the bench that can get some playing time. So the Indians switched out many of their offensive players, and Kelly Shoppach made his first appearance since he rejoined the team. He went 0 for 2 with a passed ball and an incidence of catcher’s interference, but it’s probably safe to assume he’s rusty after sitting on the bench for so long. Games like this give you the opportunity to get him a bit of playing time without wasting at-bats. Josh Tomlin also made his first major league appearance since his Tommy John surgery and he looked sharp. He gave up just two hits over two innings, and walked none. His command looked solid, and he also had to contend with a mini downpour while he was on the mound (there were several throughout the night). Vinnie Pestano also got an inning of work – he walked Jeff Keppinger and gave up a single to Conor Gillaspie. They advanced to second and third on a passed ball Kelly Shoppach, setting up run scored from a sacrifice fly from Dayan Viciedo. Corey Kluber labored at times, but ultimately lasted five innings, giving up two earned runs and six hits, walking one and striking out two.
With an odd Friday day game tomorrow, hopefully the Indians can pick up where they left off offensively.
A few notes:
– One of the highlights of the brief rain delay was a White Sox fan that sticks cans and bottles to his bald head via suction. My husband scoffed at this and said “anyone could do it” then he got mad when I tried to stick a can to his head. What gives?
– Jason Kipnis continued his torrid streak when he returns home to Chicago. He went 2 for 2 tonight, and throughout his career he is hitting .424/.514/.746 for a 1.260 OPS at U.S. Cellular Field.
– There are so many teams neck and neck for the AL Wild Card, I feel like I have trouble keeping it all straight every night (especially when teams play each other, like the Yankees and Orioles, and you don’t know who to cheer for). Basically, the Indians remain 1.5 games out for the second wild card – Texas is essentially 3.5 games ahead for the first wild card slot.