The Cleveland Indians are enjoying a productive weekend in Detroit. After winning the series opener on Friday, the Indians turned right around and impressively swept a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. In the early game, Coby Kluber came up one out short of a complete game, allowing two runs in a 6-2 win. Kluber equaled a career high with 114 pitches and struck out ten for the fifth time this season. More importantly, he saved the Indians' bullpen ahead of game two.
''I located my fastball pretty well for the most part, pitched inside enough to keep them honest,'' Kluber said. ''I'm not trying to strike guys out. My game plan is to go out there and pound the strike zone. If it happens to get some swing-and-misses, great. If it happens to get some early outs, great.''
In the nightcap, Cleveland waited out starter Max Scherzer, who was dealing with neck cramps but still pitched effectively, and then took advantage of a struggling Joe Nathan, scoring three times in the ninth to win 5-2. Carlos Santana delivered the big hit, clearing the bases with a two-out double.
With the wins, Cleveland pulls to within 4 1/2 games of Detroit for the AL Central lead. They're two games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild card position.
FOUR-RUN FIRST CARRIES CARDINALS: Earlier this season Zack Greinke completed a 23-start stretch in which he allowed three runs or fewer in every start. On Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, it only took the Cardinals four batters to score four times. Greinke walked Matt Carpenter leading off and allowed back-to-back singles to Kolten Wong and Matt Holliday. Holliday's knock scored two runs, and then Matt Adams capped the fast break with a towering two-run homer to right field.
That would be all the Cardinals needed behind starter Joe Kelly. Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Kelly tossed seven innings of one-run ball as St. Louis held on for a big 4-2 victory.
It was a nice bounce back for Kelly, who struggled in his return start on July 11 in Milwaukee. On that night, he was pulled after allowing six runs in three innings, but the offense covered for him in a 7-6 win. On Saturday, he was on point from the get-go, and manager Mike Matheny had nothing but praise for the outing.
''I thought it was one of his better pitching performances,'' Matheny said. ''There were times when I even thought his changeup was a breaking ball. It has so much depth to it. So his secondary pitches were on.''
It's not often that opposing pitchers get to pitch with a four-run lead against Greinke, but Kelly approached it like a scoreless game. Also notable, the Cardinals have taken the first two games of the weekend series, which is important with Clayton Kershaw staring them down on Sunday.
JORDY MERCER RAISES THE JOLLY ROGER: The Pittsburgh Pirates stumbled to the break, losing five out of seven on the road to the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. They're getting healthy on the flip side though, coming from behind to win each of their first two against the Colorado Rockies. On Saturday, shortstop Jordy Mercer played the role of hero, doubling home Neil Walker to nail down a 3-2 win in 11 innings.
Just like Friday, the Rockies held a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning. Pittsburgh pulled even in the eighth inning on Walker's RBI single, and actually nearly pulled ahead. Carlos Gonzalez cut down Andrew McCutchen at the plate with a fantastic throw from right field. The game remained tied until the 11th when Walker led off with a double — his third hit — and then Mercer sent the crowd home happy.
ALL NIGHTER IN ANAHEIM PART TWO: The Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels have played like two evenly matched teams over the past two games. On Friday, it took 16 innings for the Angels to grab an edge and a victory. On Saturday, Seattle finally surged ahead in the 12th on RBI hits from Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak, and then held on in the bottom half for a 3-2 win.
After combining to use 17 pitchers on Friday, both sides had the right man on the hill. All-Star game starter Felix Hernandez went for Seattle and delivered seven innings. He allowed one run (not earned) on two hits with four walks and nine strikeouts. The Angels countered with All-Star snub Garrett Richards, and he was every bit as good, if not better. Richards retired the first 15 batters he faced and ended up going eight innings with one earned run allowed. He fanned seven.
Those efforts helped ease the toll on both bullpens, but the extra frames offset any positive gains. Now, they'll need similar outings from Sunday starters Chris Young and Tyler Skaggs, while hoping for a quicker result. .
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