Second Thoughts Game #102: Indians 1, Royals 2
Kluber's bid for perfection goes for naught as Tribe falls in extras
A perfect game that could've been. A throw that shouldn't have been made. A shutout victory that wasn't.
It's tough to definitively say what could've been in the game of baseball, but if there was ever one single play to point to as the primary cause for a loss, Ryan Raburn accomplished that feat on Thursday. Danny Duffy had his good stuff working, but Corey Kluber was better and could've very well had a shutout win.
A Yan Gomes RBI single off Greg Holland in the ninth took both Kluber and Raburn off the hook and sent the contest into extra innings, but only to end up suffering ultimate defeat at the hands of Norichika Aoki, who came through with a game-winning RBI single in the 14th inning off John Axford.
The Good: Kluber, Gomes and Santana
Thankfully this loss wasn't pinned on Corey Kluber because there was absolutely nothing he did on Thursday night to deserve the loss in the slightest. The right-hander took a perfect game into the seventh inning and finished with nine innings of work, three base-runners allowed via two hits and an error, one unearned run and 10 strikeouts. Royals hitters were nowhere close to putting any serious pressure on Kluber all night.
Behind the plate, Yan Gomes was brilliant as always throwing out one base runner and just missing a second caught-stealing by the smallest of margins. His handling of Kluber and the rest of the pitching staff on Thursday was also superb once again. As a hitter, Gomes provided the only clutch hit for the Tribe as he bailed out Kluber and Ryan Raburn with a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth.
Rounding out the "good" category for the Indians was Carlos Santana, who provided most of the team's offense during regulation play with two hits. The Tribe first baseman continues his recent stretch of greatly improved production at the plate as he is now batting .286 with nine home runs and 25 RBI in June and July compared to the .186 mark with six homers and 17 RBI in his first two months of the year.
The Bad: Hitting w/ RISP
Aside from arguably one of the Indians' most clutch hits of the season by Yan Gomes in the ninth to tie the game up at one, it was another rough night for the offense.
Now give credit where credit is due. Danny Duffy had about as good stuff as Kluber did as far as mixing pitches, changing speeds and changing eye levels. But leaving 10 men on base and coming up with only two hits with runners in scoring position (only one actually scored a run) continues to be a nagging problem for the Indians' offense this season.
When Michael Brantley goes 0-for-6 and grounds into an inning-ending double play in an ideal scoring opportunity with the baases loaded and only one out, you know the offense is in a rut. Granted he did hit some hard liners that failed to fall for hits, but it just goes to show that one hitter cannot shoulder the load of burden for an entire lineup all season. Someone else has to step up sooner rather than later.
The Ugly: Ryan Raburn
"Ugly" doesn't even properly describe the miscue by Ryan Raburn in the eighth inning that turned a double into an inside-the-park home run. He made a decent effort to try and catch the bloop fly ball near the left field line off the bat of Mike Moustakas, but he overran the ball by about a step as it ended up hitting him in the wrist in fair territory and bounced off into foul territory toward the wall.
The ugliness began after that when Raburn went to retrieve the ball and wanted to throw the ball into second base. At the last possible fraction of a second in the middle of his throwing motion, as he described it after the game, he realized no one was at second to field his throw and he tried to hold onto it, but it was too late. Instead of throwing or holding onto the ball, he ended up spiking into the ground where it rolled back into left field into no-man's land, which allowed Moustakas to score.
I will give Raburn credit for standing up and facing the media afterward and talkiing about what happened, but it was still an unusual and horrible play that may very well have cost his team and his pitcher a 1-0 shutout victory. Coupled with the fact that Raburn is batting a mere .199 with only two homers and 18 RBI on the season, he is quickly wearing out his welcome in Cleveland even after his career year just one season ago.
Up next: Indians (51-51) vs. Royals (51-50) @ Kauffman Stadium. First pitch at 8:05pm ET.
Indians right-hander Josh Tomlin would like to finish out the month strong as he has struggled in three July starts going 0-2 with a 6.88 ERA in that span. Home runs continue to be a problem for the Texas native as he has allowed as many long balls as games pitched this season, including four this month. Tomlin took the loss in his last start against the Royals allowing five earned runs in five and two thirds innings of work back on the Fourth of July in Cleveland.
Countering Tomlin will be the Royals top young right-hander Yordano Ventura, who continues to be one tough customer for the Tribe as he has allowed only two earned runs in two starts, both of which he won. He did struggle in his last start in Boston allowing six runs in only four and a third innings.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
Bourn is a good player, he's just not a leadoff hitter, no longer a base stealer, and should be earning a salary of around 5 MM per season for what he brings to the table. Swish......he may yet get to .240 and 15 bombs by end of season, so he might be tradable in the offseason (if the Tribe pays half that salary). He's not worse at all than Kendrys Morales and I think he's getting about 7 million. I agree with yourtribe's callup suggestions too.
My perspective is that even now this team is overachieving based on the players it has. A fresh start would be nice. Except for 3 position players, 4 pitchers, and 2 pen pitchers......every one is available or should be.
As for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, I'd consider offering both half price (Tribe paying half of their remaining salary). See which one goes first and then hold the other. I doubt there's any buyers there.
This offense stinks. Pitching has been good enough to win.
We need a leadoff and 4 and 5 hitters.
Clean off all the dead weight for next year. Now!
Cabby ax Raburn and the inconsistent masty all gone. And dump Bourn and eat some of his contract if needed. His numbers are for a 8 hitter. Low avg and way too many Ks. We are stuck with swish.
Get Lindor up next year with naquin soon thereafter. Don't care if he's in Akron now or not. Can he do worse than the unathletic banjo hitters we now have? He's 24 the time is now. And get Zimmer the hell out of mv!
Tomlin is a solid 2 to 3 months a year pitcher each year before he gets tires and/or opposing batters figure him out. He definitely has value to a contending club, as does Masterson. And Carrasco, but perhaps a better idea to keep him.
The team may have to sell some assets to get to a formidable level as contenders, but I don't see a fire sale coming anytime soon. They still have too much youth and potential for that.
I haven't fully given up on this season yet, but you have to wonder if this is just one of those years where the team just doesn't find their groove. I agree with Walter in that if the Indians are going to bring in additional talent, they need to do it for next season and beyond. No rental players because there's no guarantee one player gets this team over the hump this year.
As boring as it is, stay put, promote and take a look from within (Holt, Aguilar, Urshela) is the way to go. Who knows, maybe they get hot at the right time again and sneak into the PO as the 2nd WC again and with Kluber, every KO-PO game is winnable
They needed a 7-4 road trip. To get there they need to sweep the remaining 3 games. They basically have blown this road trip in Minnesota.