The Blue Jays crushed the Indians in an 11-4 loss on Saturday, as the Toronto hitters took advantage of a struggling Corey Kluber. Kluber went just over five innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out three batters. Aaron Sanchez was impressive for the Blue Jays, giving up just four hits and two runs in 5.2 innings, despite walking six Indians. He also struck out five, and did a nice job of keeping the Tribe from gaining any traction.
The scoring started early in Saturday’s game, after Devon Travis got things rolling with a lead-off single in the first inning. He scored when Edwin Encarnacion doubled to right field, giving the Blue Jays’ the first lead of the game. The Indians fought back in the bottom of the inning, when Jason Kipnis reached on a walk and scored on a ground out. The Tribe would go on to take the lead in the third, when Kipnis walked and scored yet again, this time on Michael Brantley‘s two-out RBI single. That lead was even more short-lived than the Blue Jays’, as catcher Russell Martin led off with a solo home run to start the fourth inning.
The sixth inning was where it all fell apart for the Tribe, with Toronto up 4-2. A lead-off double to Kevin Pillar sent Kluber to the showers, and Marc Rzepczynski took over. He walked Michael Saunders and gave up a sacrifice bunt to Ryan Goins, before being replaced with right-hander Anthony Swarzak. Pillar scored on an error, when Lonnie Chisenhall threw home and catcher Roberto Perez failed to hold on to the ball. Swarzak went on to walk Travis, before another run scored on a fielder’s choice off of the bat of Josh Donaldson. Jose Bautista brought home two more runs on an RBI double, and Encarnacion added on with an RBI single of his own. That was the end of the day for Swarzak, but Bryan Shaw immediately gave up a pair of singles, including a run-scoring hit to Pillar, before the Tribe could escape the lengthy inning.
The Indians made a vague attempt at a comeback in the eighth inning, starting with a double off of the bat of Brandon Moss. He scored when Chisenhall reached on a fielding error by Travis, the second baseman, and Chisenhall came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly. Toronto tacked on one last run in the ninth inning, when Martin doubled and Saunders brought him home with a sacrifice fly, to make the final score 11-4.
The Tribe may have found a true lead-off hitter in Kipnis, who was 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, in addition to scoring two runs. He provided the majority of the Tribe’s offense on Saturday, and if the rest of the team begins to heat up with him, he might be the spark they need. Another surprise has been Ryan Webb, who pitched two scoreless innings with a pair of strikeouts. It was his second scoreless appearance in as many games. Perhaps Webb can help stabilize the Indians’ bullpen.
Swarzak has gone from bad to worse, and if the Indians aren’t prepared to replace him in the bullpen soon, they are willfully ignoring his struggles. He has a 7.15 ERA, and his successful outings are few and far between. Rzepczynski has a similarly-high ERA, but he also has half as many innings, and it’s hard for it to normalize when he’s only seeing one or two batters at a time.
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Check It Out
– Why isn’t Kluber in “the negatives” after his third straight rough outing? Through his first six games last season, he was 2-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 37 innings – allowing 46 hits, 2 home runs and 10 walks while striking out 35. This season? The Klubot is 0-4, allowing 44 hits, 3 home runs and 9 walks, with 39 strikeouts in 39 innings. He’s not getting hit any harder than he did last season, and he’s actually struck out more batters. The difference is the timing of those hits, which is probably the least troublesome problem he could have.
– On Sunday, the Tribe will take on the Blue Jays’ Drew Hutchison, who is 2-0 with a 6.67 ERA in five starts. The right-hander has 21 strikeouts, but he’s already given up four home runs in just 27 innings. The Indians will send Trevor Bauer to the mound, who has a 1.80 ERA in his first four games. Bauer struggled through his last start, but