Behind 5.1 solid (if unspectacular) innings by Corey Kluber, 5.2 scoreless innings from the bullpen, an a home run by Nick Swisher (!!!!!), the Indians prevailed over the Red Sox 3-2 in Boston on Sunday afternoon. The win salvaged a 5-5 road trip that featured incredible highs (the Monday night win over the Rangers in which Lonnie Chisenhall looked like a Hall of Famer) and incredible lows (getting swept by Kansas City and Justin Masterson dropping a nuclear stinkbomb on Friday night), and the Indians head home to face the LA Angels and the Detroit Tigers, who teams with postseason aspirations.
Before I delve deeper into this game, let me get this one point out of the way: Home Plate umpire Chris Guccione might need to see an optometrist on his way out of Boston. Guccione routinely botched calls on balls and strikes all afternoon, and the Indians seemed to be on the wrong end of most of it. First, Michael Brantley was rung up on a pitch that was at least six inches off the plate, prompting the ever-cool and even-keeled outfielder to voice his displeasure. Then, in the bottom of the 9th, Jackie Bradley Jr. was given four strikes after a John Axford slider over the inner half of the plate was called a ball.
Thankfull, these umpire-induced blunders did not cost the Indians the game, and the team should be commended for holding the Red Sox to only 2 runs in consecutive games. I could sit here and ask for more from the offense, but wins are wins, and these last two wins on the road (in Fenway, of all places) are great wins.
Individual Player Thoughts:
-Corey Kluber has come back down to earth a little bit, but I’ll take this pitching performance almost any day. He did walk too many batters (4), and his strikeouts have regressed to the mean a bit (4 in this game), but battling through and keeping your team in the game when you don’t have your best stuff is the mark of a great pitcher. Justin Masterson has nasty stuff, but when he’s not on, he tends to angrily self-destruct (refer to Friday night).
-John Axford was back to his unreliable self, striking out 2 and walking 3 in 0.2 innings, but it did not come back to hurt the Indians. To be fair, he should have had three strikeouts and two walks, but Chris Guccione has cataracts or something.
-Speaking of Axford, he better get used to not closing, because Cody Allen has seized that role and shows no sign of giving it up. Tito brought Allen in for the 10th inning, and Allen cruised, so when the team took the lead in the 11th, he was allowed to go and close out his own win, which he did effortlessly. The team hasn’t had a TON of save opportunities lately, but Allen has been a lockdown closer when he has had the chances — it’s great to see.
-Don’t tell anyone, but Santana had three hits in this game, and his average is creep-creep-creeping up to the Mendoza line. Does this have anything to do with him being finished at third base? I’d like to speculate yes, but it doesn’t matter.
-NICK SWISHER SIGHTING! After looking pretty bad all afternoon, he took advantage of a mistake by Junichi Tazawa and wrapped it around the Pesky Pole in right field. Does this mean anything? Probably not, but cross your fingers and toes that Swish gets it going — this team can definitely use it.
The Indians return to Cleveland to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a four game set starting tomorrow. Trevor Bauer will square off against Jared Weaver — first pitch is at 7:05.
Let’s make it three in a row!