Pitching helps Indians sweep doubleheader with Twins
Tribe bats help Kluber in first game; House blanks Minnesota in game two
CLEVELAND—Maybe it was a day off they needed after all.
After rain forced the Indians and Twins to play a traditional doubleheader Thursday, the Tribe came out on top twice on a cool afternoon at Progressive Field, netting an afternoon sweep.
Both ballgames, while different, were centered on the same recipe for success with more dominant starting pitching.
One word to describe game one: Needed
For just the fifth time in their last 19 games, Indians bats erupted for more than four runs in the first contest. Scoring eight runs on 10 hits, Cleveland routed the last place Twins, 8-2 on yet another stellar start from ace Corey Kluber (15-9, 2.45 ERA).
The right-hander almost hurled another complete game, surrendering just two runs on eight hits over 8 1/3 innings of work. However, he and the Tribe played from behind early.
Minnesota jumped out to an early one run lead in the first inning on a RBI single from designated hitter Kennys Vargas. As rare as that may have been for Kluber, his offense gave him plenty of run support.
Belting 19 home runs since the start of June, Carlos Santana continued his power surge against Twins starter Kyle Gibson (11-11, 4.58 ERA). After a two out walk to Michael Brantley, the switch-hitting slugger launched a two-run homer off the facing of the second deck in right field to give his team the lead.
The hits kept on coming.
Yan Gomes added his 18th long ball of the year on a solo-shot in the second inning before Cleveland bats tagged Gibson for four runs in the third.
Brantley collected an RBI single after back-to-back base-hits by Michael Bourn and Jose Ramirez opened the frame. Then, Gomes again came through in the clutch, but this time on a bases loaded two-run double high off the 19-foot wall in left field. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly sending Gibson to an early exit.
“It's always a good feeling when you're not playing from behind," manager Terry Francona said. "And then we kept swinging. We did a really good job, because Gibson has been tough, not only against some of the other teams, but against us."
The onslaught of runs couldn’t have been better music to Kluber’s ears.
“When you have a big lead like that, you can go out there and be extra aggressive pounding the strike zone,” he said. “When teams get down big, they're going to come out there and try to force the issue a little bit. You can kind of use that against them.”
Gibson lasted just three innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits.
Brantley highlighted the first game win driving in another run in the sixth inning for his team-leading 91st RBI of the year.
For Kluber, he becomes just first Indians pitcher since Cliff Lee in 2008 to reach 15 wins in a single season.
“It seems like every game he pitches, he doesn't ever have that wiggle room where, if you make a mistake, it seems like it's always a one-run game,” Francona said. “He’s been so amazingly consistent and at a high level. He's established himself as one of the better pitchers in the game.”
Two words to describe game two: House party
Back in April, left-hander T.J. House (3-3, 3.42 ERA) was just another prospect lost in the middle of a starting rotation in Triple-A Columbus.
Today, one could easily say he’s become a household name.
Logging seven innings for his third consecutive start, House blanked Twins hitters to just four hits without yielding a walk, striking out eight for the victory.
“He did so well,” Francona said. “When he first came up, he seemed to have a way to keeping us in every game, which is great. He’s pitching with more confidence and it’s really exciting to watch his development.”
“I felt like my stuff was playing a little more up early on,” House said. “I got a lot of fly balls, but after that I settled down better and got them to keep the ball on the ground a little more.”
Like Kluber in game one, the southpaw received offensive help from the biggest bat in the lineup again in Santana.
Scoreless through the first three innings, the Tribe first baseman went deep for a solo home run off Twins starter Ricky Nolasco (5-11, 5.64 ERA) in the fourth. It was Santana’s 27th long ball of the season, tying his career-high he set back in 2011.
“For me it’s special just to be in the lineup every day,” he said. “It’s just a special day for me today.”
Clinging to a 1-0 lead, the switch-hitter also added a huge insurance run in the eighth on an RBI single, this time off reliever Caleb Thielbar. One inning later, Cody Allen came into notch his 20th save with an easy ninth.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the 28 year-old Santana.
Through his first 200 at-bats this year, he hit just .175 (35-for-200) with seven home runs and 22 RBI. Since then, he’s been arguably one of the game’s best power threats, hitting .277 (79-for-285) with 20 homers and 55 RBI.
“The fact that he wasn’t hitting earlier was kind of peculiar, he’s such a good hitter,” Francona said. “He’s just too good. Once he’s found it he’s stayed there and has been consistent.”
The Dominican native has since put his early season struggles behind him.
“It’s in the past,” Santana said. “It’s a long season and I’m going to keep focused. Right now I feel great and I see the ball very well.”
Much of the same could be said for the rookie House, who continues to look better and better with each outing. He looks back at his start in Kansas City on Sunday Night Baseball on August 31 as a personal turning point.
“After throwing those seven innings on a big stage in a game we really needed, just showed me I can go out and compete with my stuff and have success with it,” House said. “With that Kansas City start, I just got on a roll and right now I’m kind of riding with it hoping that it stays.”
Over his last three starts, the lefty is 1-0 with a 0.86 ERA, surrendering just two runs in his last 21 innings. Not only that, he’s done it without issuing a walk and striking out 20.
“Not walking anybody I think has been a key for me,” House said. “Just knowing you’re going to get the ball and it’s going to be handed to you every five days, gives you that confidence to go out there and stay on your routine.”
“Finding pitching is one of the best feelings,” Francona said. “The second game we didn’t knock the ball around the ballpark. “But because of the way he pitched, it ends up being a really good day.”
Two victories on the afternoon sends Cleveland (76-69) just 3 1/2 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Wild Card race, with the team heading up to Motown to open a three-game series this weekend.
“Definitely heading to Detroit, you want to be a good high note,” House said. “We got three big games ahead of us, and you want to make sure you win them all when you can. Obviously we lost the first game of this series, but we came back and got both of them today. I’m excited where we’re headed.”
Up next for Indians: The Tribe travels up to that state up north for a three-game series with the division rival Tigers beginning Friday night. Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.69 ERA) gets the start for Cleveland in the series opener opposite of southpaw David Price (2-3, 4.10 ERA) at 7:08 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Rotation sets up like this the rest of the way if they go with Tomlin/McAllister for the spot start on Monday:
9/12 Tigers - Carrasco
9/13 Tigers - Salazar
9/14 Tigers - Bauer
9/15 Astros - McAllister/Tomlin
9/16 Astros - Kluber
9/17 Astros - House
9/18 Astros - Carrasco
9/19 Twins - Salazar
9/20 Twins - Bauer
9/21 Twins - Kluber
9/22 Royals - House
9/23 Royals - Carrasco
9/24 Royals - Salazar
9/26 Rays - Bauer
9/27 Rays - Kluber
9/28 Rays - House/Carrasco
And here is how it sets up if they don't make the spot start:
9/12 Tigers - Carrasco
9/13 Tigers - Salazar
9/14 Tigers - Bauer
9/15 Astros - Kluber (short rest)
9/16 Astros - House
9/17 Astros - Carrasco
9/18 Astros - Salazar
9/19 Twins - Bauer
9/20 Twins - Kluber
9/21 Twins - House
9/22 Royals - Carrasco
9/23 Royals - Salazar
9/24 Royals - Bauer
9/26 Rays - Kluber
9/27 Rays - House
9/28 Rays - Salazar/Carrasco
I don't think they risk Kluber on three days rest....an just go with McAllister and Tomlin on Monday against a poor team and hope for the best. Short leash for any of them and bullpen by committee the rest of the way.
It seems all we need to do is find a good arm and turn it over to Callaway to make it into a pitcher. Perhaps another way to pose the question is just how much better coaching in the majors might be than in the minors.
The development of young pitchers this year has changed my expectations for the future of the team going ahead.
Now we need to get a restructuring of the batting order. There must be a right handed bat out there somewhere? I note that the emergence of Santana at 1b leaves Aquilar with no spot other than DH. I do not think DH is a good place for a youngster to break into the majors.
Also, House as our #5 going into next year.....now that's nice!
You're forgetting about Felix Hernandez.
Praying for a sweep in Detroit this weekend.
and third place finishes to win on total points and should win either 17 or 18 games total when all is said and done 17 or 18 wins and 9 or 10 losses. should be sufficient 18 will surely lead or tie for league lead. all of the numbers above indicate a cy young for klubs