When I watch the Indians this season, I often get that Talking Heads’ song “Once In a Lifetime” stuck in my head. You know–“This is not my beautiful car. This is not my beautiful wife.”Except I want to sing “This is not my beautiful team.” They have the pieces parts to be great. The starting rotation is full of young, strong arms, including the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. They’ve got one of the hottest bats in the league in Jason Kipnis and one of the smarter hitters in the league in Michael Brantley. Francisco Lindor, the guy all the other teams wanted to trade for and the fans have been salivating over for years, is having a solid rookie season, as is Giovanny Urshela. They’re managed by Terry Freaking Francona. But for some reason, they can’t put it together.
The lack of scoring when Kluber starts has become a painful joke. With the exception of his last start, in which the Indians scored a season-high 9 runs, it seems like every other time Kluber takes the mound, the Indians forget how to score runs. Sure, they can hit the ball and ever get on base, but they can’t score to save their collective life.
Friday night’s game against the Chicago White Sox was no different. Kluber started, the Tribe got 7 hits and couldn’t seal the offensive deal. They were shut out 6-0. About the only element that differed from what has become the standard script is that Kluber gave up more than his share of runs. He pitched7.0 innings (and pitched to four batters in the 8th), giving up 8 hits, 6 earned runs, and 2 walks. Considering that this was Kluber’s 6th start this season with zero run support, the White Sox really only needed 1 of those runs.
If Kluber could give one of the White Sox runs back, perhaps he’d give back the first one. In the 3rd inning, Alexei Ramirez singled, stole 2nd, then moved to 3rd on a Tyler Flowers groundout. Then Kluber threw a hard cutter that got away from him (and catcher Yan Gomes). Ramirez scored on the wild pitch. (You could almost hear David Byrne singing “My God, what have I done!?) He gave up a solo home run to Jose Abreu in the 6th. Then the 8th, the White Sox just started hitting, sending eight batters to the plate and scoring four more runs to make it 6-0.
To be fair to the Indians, White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana was on his game. He pitched a complete game, 7 hits, no runs, no walks, 8 strikeouts. As always, once the tribe did get runners on base, they didn’t know what to do with them. Same as it ever was.
The Indians play the White Sox again on Saturday night at Progressive Field. Game time is 7:10 ET.