Kluber puts stamp on sweep with 14 Ks
The Cleveland Indians‘ ace Corey Kluber didn’t have the drama of a no-hitter as he allowed two runs in the first inning of today’s 5-4 win on Mike Aviles‘ 10th inning home run, but it didn’t make it any less masterful than the three before him. It’s a small sample, as teams will have their streaks throughout a season, but this teams resembles the one we thought we would see from day one.
Kluber ran into a little trouble in the first and sixth innings, allowing two runs in each frame, but in-between those two hiccups he was near untouchable. And while in recent weeks, allowing four runs would have been enough to earn him a loss, the offense did their part to at least give him a no-decision before Aviles won it in the 10th.
He was averaging just 2.28 runs per game in support, and in 11 of his 17 outings the Indians have scored two or less. The four runs today marked a high in a game that he was still the pitcher of record. This is one that he’ll be happy with a no-decision.
Kluber’s effort finished off a barrage of amazing starts from Cleveland pitchers. It seemed as each one was out to best the previous one, and they just about did. Carlos Carrasco‘s just miss on the no-hitter stands as the highlight of the four starters, but they took no-hitters into the fifth in three of the four games, and Kluber struck out 14 in absence of perfection in hits.
Terry Francona said it best after the game, and it couldn’t have been more true a statement.
"“We needed it,” Indians manager Francona said. “You can’t come into a series getting ahead of yourself, but we needed to get greedy today. You win three and it’s easy to go, ‘Well, three out of four.’ But, we needed to win today and that was a hard one to win."
I had mentioned in an article recently about sometimes players being content with just coming to the ballpark and “doing their job”. But the Tribe weren’t going to be happy with taking three out of four. They wanted the sweep, and went out and earned it.
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When I posted the piece on this yesterday, I said in jest that it was an easy solution, just score more runs. Sarcastic, yes. But it’s holding true in the simplest of ways. The Indians just weren’t getting things done with runners on. And it’s not perfect by any stretch. They’ve done it the last four games, and now need to carry that confidence moving forward.
They made a push for the playoffs last season, coming up just short. Now is the time to turn the tide if they don’t want to see the same result. Mark my words, this series will be the one we look to as they make a push in the second half as to where it all changed.