Just two outings into the 2016 season, Corey Kluber is again haunted by a disturbing trend that plagued him in 2015: A total lack of run support from his offense. On a night when the former Cy Young winner pitched very well, there was no margin for error with the lack of Tribe offense and a couple of small mistakes would cost Kluber as the Rays rallied to beat the Indians 5-1 Tuesday night.
Let’s take a look at some turning points and key stats in a difficult early-season loss for the Tribe:
*Francisco Lindor hit a monster homerun to straight away center field to give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead.
*Mike Napoli would follow Lindor’s homer with a single, then get gunned down at second base attempting to tag up and advance on a Carlos Santana fly out to deep left field. Yan Gomes would then immediately double with the bases now empty. Napoli may have defused a big inning with his overaggressive base running gaffe in an inning when the Tribe had Matt Moore struggling.
*Sleepy Tribe Bats: Following a Rajai Davis 2-out walk in the 5th inning, Rays pitching would retire the final 13 consecutive Tribe hitters.
*Varying Hitting Approaches: Mike Napoli continues to American League pitchers, seeing a whopping 24 pitches in just four at bats. Conversely, Marlon Byrd and Juan Uribe combined to see just 17 pitches in six at bats.
*Moore is Less for Tribe: Matt Moore pitched a gem and got stronger as the game went on. Check out the falloff of the Tribe lineup versus the Tampa southpaw as the game progressed:
1st time through order: 2-9
2nd time through order: 3-9
3rd time through order: 0-8
*No Base Runners = No Runs : Indians with runners in scoring position Tuesday night: At bats: 1 Hits: 0
*A Game of Inches: Kluber’s shutout was erased with two outs in the seventh inning. With the bases empty, Corey Dickerson took a very close 2-2 pitch which appeared to be a strike, but deemed outside for a ball; Dickerson would then double and score on Desmond Jennings’ clutch single to tie it.
*A Game of Inches Part 2: With two outs in the eighth inning and Kluber sitting at 102 total pitches, Terry Francona would leave him in to face Logan Forsythe. Kluber would get ahead 0-2 in the count, only to end up giving up a full-count 2-run homerun to seal a difficult defeat for the Tribe ace.
*Extra Wind: Rajai Davis has struck out in 9 of his 17 at bats so far in 2016. With Davis’ whopping whiff rate, it will be interesting to see if the switch-hitting Jose Ramirez gets a shot at the leadoff spot prior to Michael Brantley’s return from injury.
*Dr. Smooth in C-Bus: Michael Brantley (1-2, double, run scored) started in left field for the Columbus Clippers on his rehab assignment. The Tribe can’t wait to get a healthy Dr. Smooth Bat back in the everyday lineup!
On Deck for the Tribe: Carlos Carrasco will toe the rubber for the Tribe Wednesday night in his first start at Tropicana Field since his spectacular 1-hitter against the Rays last July.