It was Mike Aviles who sent them home happy with another walk-off blast, the Tribe’s seventh of the season. But it was Corey Kluber who put them in position with yet another dominant performance.
Kluber failed to pick up the win, but the Tribe improved to 8-2 in Kluber’s last 10 starts, during which he’s posted a 1.19 ERA.
While the end result was exciting, I can’t help but wonder if it couldn’t have worked out better for Kluber if it weren’t for a bizarre and terribly mishandled chain of events in the 8th inning.
With one out in the 8th, Adam Jones attempted to bunt at the first pitch but missed, and the ball may have hit his hand (whether it did or not is irrelevant, by rule it’s a strike either way). Buck Showalter then came out to argue and after an extended conversation with home plate umpire Dana Demuth (longer than is allowed, by my understanding of the replay rules) Showalter decided to challenge the call.
One small problem: you can’t challenge the call. The ruling on the field was that Jones had swung at the pitch, taking a hit-by-pitch off the table as a possible outcome of the play. But the umpires reviewed it anyway, forcing Kluber to stand around even longer.
Eventually, after putting on the headsets and talking to the replay command center, the umpires realized this wasn’t a reviewable play. This brought Showalter back out of the dugout for another extended conversation, which probably should have resulted in an automatic ejection based on the rule that you can’t argue once a replay has been handled.
Through all of this, which lasted roughly seven minutes, Terry Francona stood quietly in the Indians dugout, allowing Kluber to get cold on the mound.
Did any of this matter? Who knows. But it certainly didn’t help. After retiring Jones, Nelson Cruz singled and, after Francona removed Kluber, Cruz would come around to score they tying run.
It’s a chain of events that ultimately didn’t hurt the Tribe, but it was disappointing to see Francona take such a passive approach in a game that had the feel of a playoff atmosphere.