Will we ever taste that sweet, sweet five games over .500?
Tribe falls to 67-64
For all the jokes we've made about Corey Kluber being a robot, tonight showed a decidedly human side of the Indians ace. There has been a growing concern around LGT that perhaps Kluber is developing a bit of fatigue, having now pitched over 190 innings so far in 2014. Tonight gave a bit of weight to those fears. While at times Kluber looked like his usual dominant self, he was undone by two difficult innings. Perhaps most disturbingly, Kluber showed something we've never seen from him before: frustration.
Don't get me wrong here, Kluber still pitched a solid game. The fact that the Sox managed just three runs is a testament to the Klubot's determination and ability to work out of difficult situations. He still managed 8 K's even though he lasted just 6 1/3 innings. Uncharacteristically, though, he allowed nine runs and walked two batters. Still, this game was winnable. It's too bad the offense didn't realize that.
Hector Noesi is not a great pitcher, but he had the Tribe's number tonight. Noesi shut down the Indians over the first two inning, but the Tribe managed to score first thanks to a Roberto Perez double and a Michael Bourn RBI single in the third. Likewise, Kluber mostly cruised through the first two innings aside from a double by Jose Abreu. But the third inning quickly turned into a quagmire for Kluber.
Adam Eaton tripled with one out in the Sox 3rd, but Alexei Ramirez smoked a Cuban Missile directly into Carlos Santana's glove. It looked like Kluber might escape unscathed, but Abreu was having none of that. Kluber left a cutter up in the zone, and he was damn lucky the best Abreu could do was a single. Adam Dunn followed that with an RBI double to the gap in right center. Kluber walked Avisail Garcia, and Conner Gillaspie singled to a diving Jason Kipnis to load the bases. Kluber dug deep and induced a weak grounder from Tyler Flowers to retire the side, but the inning had taken its toll.
After a short top of the 4th inning thanks to a double play ground out from Kipnis, Kluber had to go right back to work. But boy, did he work. He sat down the next nine in a row and despite giving up another walk, he struck out Alejandro De Aza to end the 6th inning with just over 100 pitches.
After a futile and pathetic 6th inning - Sequence: bunt single, bloop single,
free out sac bunt, weak pop out, weak groundout - the Indians managed to give Kluber some "run support" via a solo homer from Lonnie Chisenhall. Kluber probably should have been done, but he came out for the 7th, a bizarre inning which ultimately broke him and decided the game.
Carlos Sanchez singled to start the inning. Adam F Eaton followed with a double that, mercifully, bounced over the RF wall and prevented Sanchez from scoring. Then came the annoyances. On an Alexei Ramirez grounder, Lonnie Chisenhall threw home to get Sanchez at the plate. Sanchez was out by a solid three steps, but Sox manager Robin Ventura decided to channel his inner Ozzie Guillen by throwing a hissy fit about Roberto Pereze blocking the plate. The umpires reviewed, and the review very clearly showed that Perez not only tagged the runner but also quite obviously stepped out of the baseline while executing the tag. The ruling on the field stood, but Ventura's tantrum continued.
By this point Kluber was visibly pissed off, and he requested a couple warmup pitches to get back into the swing of things. Much to his dismay, his request was denied, which prompted Terry Francona to take the field and do some whining of his own. Once the circus finally died down, Jose Abreu (who else) promptly singled straight up the middle, inches from Klubers outstretched glove, to drive in the go-ahead run. For all intents and purposes, the game was over after that.
Mark Rzepczynski and C.C. Lee did an admirable job shutting down the Sox over the remaining inning and two thirds, but the offense was nowhere to be found. A feeble rally attempt in the 9th ended with a weak pop-up to shallow LF, and that was all she wrote.
Small picture, this is a pretty basic loss. The White Sox snapped their 7-game skid, and improved to 9-6 against Indians this year. Big picture, though, the implications of this game are unsettling. This is the second start in a row that Kluber hasn't looked like Klubot. Is he gassed? If so, what can we do to get him some rest? Replacing Klubot with a human Corey Kluber down the stretch is nothing but bad news for our playoff chances. Where do we go from here?
Win Expectancy Chart:
(Shabooya) Roll Call:
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