Back at the end of May, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about how Indians fans were haunted by the ghosts of closers past.  Maybe there’s just something about the combination of an Indians uniform and the ninth inning that brings out the insanity.  Cody Allen hadn’t allowed an earned run in his prior four appearances, dating back to July 4 (oddly enough, against the Royals).  In fact, in those four scoreless appearances, he’d only allowed two hits and one walk combined; tonight in the ninth inning alone he allowed two hits and a walk.  Despite the fact that the tying run was on base at one point, and Indians fans likely felt a significant blood pressure spike, Allen still managed to get the save without any damage.  The Indians’ 3-0 victory over the Royals was their American League-leading twelfth shutout of the year (they’re second in the majors behind the Pirates).  The Tribe had just six shutouts all of last year, second to last in the majors.  It’s not quite the All-Star break yet, and the Indians have already doubled their shutout total from last year.  (At the bottom, I’ll list some additional details about the shutouts)

A big part of shutout number 12 was the incredible pitching performance by Corey Kluber.  He pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up just three hits and walking three, while striking out eight.  I have to admit that earlier this season when Zach McAllister was injured, I groaned when I saw that Kluber got the call-up to take his spot.  I had never been that impressed by him, and for some reason I just never trusted him when he was in a game.  I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve been happier to be wrong, because he’s certainly been impressive so far this season.  Kluber even managed to weasel out of a lead-off triple in the fifth inning, a situation that eventually devolved into a bases-loaded, one out situation.  He escaped without damage and was locked in a duel with Bruce Chen until the seventh inning.  At first I was a bit surprised that Ned Yost chose to pull Chen when he had allowed just one hit – a Carlos Santana double – at that point in the game.  I’d completely forgotten that Chen had pitched exclusively out of the bullpen so far this season; it was obvious that they didn’t want to stretch his pitch count beyond 100.

Once Yost pulled Chen and went to Tim Collins, the Indians’ offense pounced.  After Collins allowed back-to-back singles to Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher, Yost went back to the bullpen for Aaron Crow.  A Carlos Santana single plated the first run for the Tribe, and then Mark Reynolds bunt singled to load the bases.  Since Reynolds struck out in his other three at-bats today, it was probably the only way he was going to make it on base at this point.  We all knew that he was going to strike out a lot when the Indians signed him; plus he’s a very streaky player that can run very hot, and very cold.  However, he’s on pace to smash his strikeout total from last year with the Orioles.  Tonight’s game saw strikeouts 111, 112, and 113; last year Reynolds struck out 159 times all season.  That was actually one of his best years as far as strikeouts were concerned – he struck out 223 times with Arizona in 2009.  Michael Bourn doubled in the last two runs that inning, leaving Kluber and the bullpen with a 3-0 lead with which to work.

The last game I wrote about was a little over a week ago on July 4, also against the Royals.  I was lamenting the collapse of the bullpen, and the fact that the Indians starters were making early exits from the games.  Even though Allen made it interesting tonight, he got the job done.  Joe Smith, after a rough night on Wednesday, needed just one pitch to get the final out in the eighth inning.  Because of Kluber’s fantastic start, the bullpen didn’t even need to pitch that much tonight.  The Royals have been heating up lately, particularly their offense.  It feels good to shut them down and get a win, particularly since the Indians didn’t even have many opportunities on the base paths tonight.  They made the most of what they had, and they were rewarded with their 49th win and 12th shutout.

Some additional shutout facts:

  • Nine of the 12 shutouts have come at Progressive Field.
  • There are three teams the Indians have shut out twice so far this season, once at home and once on the road – the Rays, the White Sox, and now the Royals.
  • The other six teams the Indians shut out – the Phillies, Athletics, Yankees, Mariners, Nationals, and Blue Jays.
  • Justin Masterson was the starter in five of the shutouts, Ubaldo Jimenez was the starter in three of them, Kluber in two of them, and Zach McAllister and Trevor Bauer each started in one.
  • Three of the shutouts were complete games by Masterson.
  • Joe Smith appeared in five of the shutouts, Cody Allen in four of them, Vinnie Pestano and Rich Hill in three of them, Chris Perez in two of them, and Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw each appeared in one.

List of the shutouts:

April 7 at Tampa Bay – Indians win 13-0 – Pitchers: Justin Masterson, Joe Smith, and Vinnie Pestano

April 12 vs. the White Sox – Indians win 1-0 – Pitcher: Justin Masterson

April 29 at Kansas City – Indians win 9-0 – Pitchers: Ubaldo Jimenez, Nick Hagadone, and Cody Allen

May 1 vs. Philadelphia – Indians win 6-0 – Pitchers: Trevor Bauer, Bryan Shaw, Rich Hill, Joe Smith, and Cody Allen

May 7 vs. Oakland – Indians win 1-0 – Pitchers: Zach McAllister, Rich Hill, and Chris Perez

May 13 vs. Yankees – Indians win 1-0 – Pitcher: Justin Masterson

May 19 vs. Seattle – Indians win 6-0 – Pitchers: Justin Masterson, Rich Hill, and Joe Smith

June 1 vs. Tampa Bay – Indians win 5-0 – Pitchers: Ubaldo Jimenez, and Vinnie Pestano

June 16 vs. Washington – Indians win 2-0 – Pitchers: Corey Kluber, and Vinnie Pestano

June 30 at White Sox – Indians win 4-0 – Pitcher: Justin Masterson

July 9 vs. Toronto – Indians win 3-0 – Pitchers: Ubaldo Jimenez, Cody Allen, Joe Smith, and Chris Perez

July 12 vs. Kansas City – Indians win 3-0 – Pitchers: Corey Kluber, Joe Smith, and Cody Allen

5 Comments

  • Gvl Steve says:

    Kluber took a big step this year, mostly with better pitch selection and location. His success gives me hope for Carlos Carrasco, because they have similar pitches. Both have a 95+ MPH 4-seam fastball that doesn’t move much, a low 80s breaking ball and a high 80′s slider or cut FB. Carrasco has struggled this year with pitch selection and location. Control issues are also common for guys in their first year back from Tommy John surgery. So maybe all isn’t lost with Carrasco just yet. He has a great arm, and if he can fine tune the way Kluber has, he can be a rotation stalwart next year.

  • Edward Ennett says:

    Coming into the season, the bullpen was our best strength. Besides, CP always seeming to make it interesting, we still could count on them to lock down most games from the 7th inning on.

    At he very start of the season, they were lock-down when they had the rare chance. But now, it seems like an utter crap-shoot.

    I know we have had some injuries, but still. no one seems to be pitching the way we have seen them pitch before. Could this be the effect of having the starters fade so fast? Is the bullpen just tired? I don’t know. Hopefully the All-star break will get the guys some rest and time to break out of their funk.

    The starters are seeming to be having a quietly very good season. The offenses is in the top 5. If the bullpen can become the bullpen we have seen before. There is no reason we cannot see ballgames in October..

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I still blame the WBC for Perez and Pestano. No way a pitcher should be throwing 100% in game situations that early in the year, especially if he already has an ongoing issue like Pestano has with his elbow. The fact that guys are either getting hurt immediately or suffering a breakdown later in the year shouldn’t be a surprise.

    • Sean Porter says:

      I’ve been saying this too for a while now – I was petrified when I heard both were involved in the WBC.

      I’m all for a World Cup of Baseball, but not like this. Do it after the season, and with non-Indians players. Ha!

  • Scott in TX says:

    Well I guess that makes Chris Perez a lawbreaker tonight…HAHAHAHA!