Maybe he was disappointed that the #VoteKluber campaign failed to get him selected to the AL All-Star team. Maybe he was preoccupied with wondering how he was going to get his hands on season tickets for the upcoming Cavaliers season. Maybe, just maybe, he was simply having a not-so-great night. Whatever the reason—and we’re not likely to learn it by reading the expression on his face—Indians starting pitcher Cory Kluber wasn’t his usual sharp self tonight, allowing four runs, all earned, over six innings. But thanks to some timely hitting by the Indians offense and three innings of perfect relief from John Axford, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen, Kluber and the Indians earned a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field this evening.
Whenever Kluber faltered, the offense was right there to pick him up. When Kluber gave up two runs in the second inning to give the White Sox a 2-0 lead, David Murphy hit a two-run homer in the home half of the inning to tie the score. When he gave up a run in the fourth, the Indians matched it, thanks to a bases-loaded walk. When Kluber gave up a run in the fifth, the Indians matched it and then some, scoring three runs in the frame to give the Tribe a 6-4 lead. Two of those three runs came courtesy of a Nick Swisher home run. Swish has homered in three of the last five games. In case you were wondering, I like it very much when Swisher hits home runs, and I hope he keeps on hitting them. The way I see it, he owes us some homers. Swish, if you’re reading this, keep it up, OK? Thank you.
The Indians did a lot of things right tonight, especially in that three-run fifth inning. Asdrubal Cabrera started things off by laying down a perfect bunt single to the left side of the infield. With two outs, Cabrera tried to steal second base, only to be called out by umpire Dan Iassogna. Tribe manager Terry Francona called for a replay challenge on the grounds that the Sox infielder never actually tagged Cabrera. Francona was right, and the call was reversed. So instead of the inning ending there with the Sox up 4-3, the Indians now had a runner on second with two outs. Lonnie Chisenhall drove in Cabrera with a single, and then Swisher’s home run (did I ever mention that I like it when Swisher hits home runs?) gave the Indians the lead.
As mentioned earlier, the bullpen did its job, as Axford, Shaw, and Allen each faced three batters and retired them all. Allen struck out the side in the ninth for his eleventh save. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to suspect that Allen is genuine closer material.
The Indians did a few things wrong as well. They hit into three double plays, and Ryan Raburn once again disappointed as a pinch-hitter, striking out swinging in the bottom of the seventh. But we shall not dwell on these things tonight, for tonight the Cleveland Indians beat a division rival, and they are back at .500. For now at least, all is well.
The second game of the series begins at 3:05 PM tomorrow, with the finale scheduled for 1:05 PM on Sunday. Then there’s nothing but off days and exhibition baseball until next Friday. Next Friday, people!