....Oh yeah, and Mike Aviles was a disaster in right field, but I'm sure Terry Francona knows something we don't.
Game 135: Tigers 12, Indians 1
Tribe falls to 70-65
The first problem with today's game was Terry Francona's decision to start Mike Aviles in right field. Aviles, who hasn't done anything in left field this season to make me thing he belongs in the grass, had played only 22 innings in right field during his MLB career prior to today, and unless something foolish happens, he won't be playing out there again. I have no interest in hearing anyone argue that a manager knows things we fans can't know, and so we shouldn't question their decisions. Aviles had no business in right field, and Francona had no business putting him there.
Ian Kinsler led off the game with a flare to right field. A good defender would have caught it, a capable defender (one with some real experience playing the position) would have played it as a single. Aviles took a bad line and made the poor decision to dive, turning it into a triple. Who knows if the inning would have turned out any differently, but as is, two batters later Miguel Cabrera hit the 20th home run of his career at Progressive Field, making him the first visiting player to reach that mark in stadium history.
With two outs in the 3rd inning, Cabrera hit a weak fly into right. Aviles got a horrible break on the ball, then couldn't recover in time to make the catch on what was ruled a single. While the 1st-inning play would have taken a pretty good fielder in order to be an out, this one was completely routine, and would have been caught by a capable fielder. Instead of the inning being over, Victor Martinez came to the plate and hit his 5th home run of the season against the Indians. That brought J.D. Martinez to the plate, and he hit his 4th home run of the season against the Indians.
Aviles was pulled from the game before the start of the 4th inning, reportedly due to his feeling light-headed and dizzy, which may have had something to do with him sort of face-planting on the play in the 1st, and/or the afternoon heat at Progressive Field. In any event, the damage was done.
Now, Aviles playing right field was an awful decision, and both of those plays were terrible, but neither Francona or Aviles gave up those three home runs. That was Corey Kluber.
Kluber hadn't given up more than one home run in a game all season, then today he gave up three in three innings (and he was replaced before the 3rd inning even ended). Cabrera hit his homer on an 0-1 pitch, Victor Martinez hit his on an 0-2 pitch, and J.D. Martinez hit his on a 2-2 pitch. Those are pitcher's counts, and Victor's especially was hit on a terrible pitch for the situation.
This is now three starts in a row in which Kluber has not looked the way he did for the first three quarters of the season. Neither of the previous two were anywhere near this bad, but I also don't think we should write off this afternoon as just a bad day for Kluber. He's passed his previous high for innings pitched, and is 45 innings beyond the number he pitched last year. It would be understandable if he's running out of gas, especially since he'd thrown at least 106 pitches in 12 of his previous 13 starts, after throwing that many only 4 times in his first 15 games.
Kluber entered today with a legitimate case for deserving the American League Cy Young Award. He exits the day with serious questions about whether he should be allowed to make another 4 or 5 starts this season.
Some stuff happened after that 3rd inning, most of it involving the Tigers scoring another 7 runs in the final three innings of the game. Zach McAllister pitched 3.1 innings, getting through the first three without allowing any runs, but loading the bases in his fourth frame, with two of those runners scoring after he was removed. Bryan Price made his MLB debut, retired the first two hitters he faced, then gave up another home run to Cabrera (whose sore ankle didn't seem to be bothering him at the plate today).
The final score was 12-1 and it was just as ugly as that score implies.
Win Expectancy Chart:
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