Just a mere five days after being dismantled by Mike Aviles‘ concussion-inducing defense and the Detroit Tigers, Corey Kluber returned to the pitching mound and reasserted himself as the ace of this rejuvenated Indians pitching staff. He was alarmingly efficient and devastatingly effective as he sliced and diced his way through the Chicago White Sox lineup en route to a complete game should-have-been shutout. I say ‘should-have-been’ because the only run allowed was unearned on an error by Jesus Aguilar.
The offense, as it is wont to do, didn’t really show up for this game. They scratched out three runs but probably should have scored more. In the bottom of the fifth the Indians loaded the bases with 1-out and Santana and Gomes coming to the plate, but Santana popped up on the first pitch and Gomes went down swinging. At the time the game was 1-1, and it felt like the momentum had swung back to the White Sox.
But Kluber was on his game tonight and the offense managed to do enough. In the bottom of the 7th, Michael Bourn walked and then scored on a booming triple by Jose Ramirez (quietly not-that-bad at hitting), who then scored himself on a seeing-eye-single through a drawn in infield by Michael Brantley. That made it 3-1 and that was all Kluber would need.
With all the rightful concerns surrounding Corey after his dud of a start on Labor Day, his effort this evening was nothing short of terrific. As mentioned above, he went the distance, and almost registered his second Maddux of the season (a Maddux, you may remember, is a complete game outing by a pitcher in fewer than 100 pitches). He scattered five hits and struck out 8, making his efficiency on the night all the more remarkable.
The Indians are still a longshot for a return visit to the postseason, but they continue to fight the good fight night in and night out. The Tigers and Royals lost today, so the Indians now sit 5 games back (4 back if you count that suspended game as a win). It is not over yet, though the upcoming games with the Tigers loom large… the key is to get through the next five days on a high note.
Tomorrow the team will go for the much needed Sweep with Carlos Carrasco on the bump against Hector Noesi. Noesi shut the Indians down last time he faced them, but he’s really nothing special. With a dollop of luck, the Indians could be 4 [3!] games back by tomorrow night.