The Indians were decked out in their red 1970s uniforms on Saturday night, but the team on the field looked nothing like that hapless group from decades ago.
Led by Mike Clevingers‘s nine strikeouts, the Tribe shutout the Rays for the second consecutive night. It’s the second time this season the Tribe has shutout an opponent on the road in consecutive games (they also did it to the White Sox in April). But prior to April’s back-to-back shutouts in Chicago, the Tribe hadn’t accomplished that feat on the road since 1991 in Fenway Park. And they haven’t done it twice in one season since 1964 (at Boston and Washington).
Consecutive shutouts on the road is obviously an impressive feat, made even more remarkable by the elevated run-producing environment in which the 2017 squad is playing.
While the offense sputtered again, and benefited from some lucky bounces and shaky defense by the Rays, it’s hard to worry about the lineup too much when the pitching is producing at such a high level.
Clevinger, making his first start since late July, allowed just five base runners through seven shutout innings. During his 15 starts this season, Clevinger now has a 3.36 ERA with a 9.9 K-per-9 rate. And yet, due to the remarkable depth in this rotation, he’s unlikely to crack the postseason rotation and will probably be limited to mop-up duty in October.
Other thoughts and notes on the game…
In the first inning the Indians scored on an Edwin Encarnacion single which had a five percent hit probability (based on exit velocity/launch angle), followed by a Jay Bruce “double” that should have been an easy out to end the inning but dropped due to a miscommunication. But since nobody touched the ball, it was ruled and hit, and therefor an earned run for Chris Archer. Just another example of how advanced metrics trump all of our flawed old-school stats.
The greatest closer in franchise history, Cody Allen, picked up his 20th save the season with a perfect 9th inning, including two strikeouts. It was the 57th time he’s picked up a save without allowing a base runner, extending his own franchise record.