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Second Thoughts Game #102: Indians 1, Royals 2

Kluber's bid for perfection goes for naught as Tribe falls in extras

Second Thoughts Game #102: Indians 1, Royals 2
Ryan Raburn misplays a fly ball in the eighth inning, which allows Mike Moustakas to score on his own double. (Photo: AP)
July 25, 2014
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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.

User Comments

July 26, 2014 - 7:19 AM EDT
The 2014 version of Masterson has value to no one.
C L Who
July 25, 2014 - 8:13 PM EDT
Masterson would be valuable to teams like the Mariners, Yankees, Pirates, Reds who are in contention with a good shot at playoffs, and which could sign him for a few more years too. Even Fausto Carmona is still pitching after imploding in Cleveland after 2007....heck, he's got a 4.25 ERA with the Phillies and is in their rotation, and he's making 4.5 MM per year at age 33.5.

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.
July 25, 2014 - 5:54 PM EDT
I think it's time to sell. This club is marginal, they aren't going to change drastically enough, IMHO. If they can get a solid return for Masterson I say trade him. But I'm open to gambling on him coming back strong next yr w/ the QO. I would trade ACab, hold Aviles. I'd make Axford, Murphy, and Raburn available too. Maybe someone would bite or at least Id try to chip Raburn in with ACab or Masterson. I'd consider a lesser return, just to clear his salary off the books. No one is going to bowl the Tribe over with an offer unless they get desperate. I'm not saying, take what you can get, but I really don't see the point in holding these guys much longer. Maybe a team will offer the Tribe a comp pk and a prospect / two for Masterson, that would be as good as a QO for me.

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.
July 25, 2014 - 3:16 PM EDT
Raburn should never be allowed to step foot on an MLB field again after that......
July 25, 2014 - 2:51 PM EDT
Keep Gomes Brantley kluber Bauer and Allen. Every one else can b moved in some fashion if needed.
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!

Hawk 1228
July 25, 2014 - 2:49 PM EDT
I dont believe we are going to move Swisher Bourn or Murphy, So why not cut ties with Raburn and go out and trade for Alex Rios. He is in his final year of that contract with an option for next year His splits this season against left handers are 378 BA 409 OBP 651 Slugging % and a 1.059 OPS Texas is selling off anything not bolted down. I am sure we have a reliever or 2 that could get this done
July 25, 2014 - 2:12 PM EDT
It's a catch 22, League Park. This team also can't afford an every year pitcher either on the open market. I might be fine with a qualifying offer for Masterson for next season depending on how his health is and this season shakes out.
July 25, 2014 - 1:57 PM EDT
This team cannot afford an every other year pitcher like Masterson. Open to trading many players including Kipnis. Swisher, Raburn, Cabrera, Murphy can all go. Bourn too if you can get back something
July 25, 2014 - 12:41 PM EDT
I still believe you keep Masterson. And I strongly consider the QO. As long as the Indians really believe the arm is healthy, I would have no problem with it for one year as this may just be his typical down year in his up and down fashion.
C L Who
July 25, 2014 - 12:21 PM EDT
Tribe has two big assets apart from Cabrera: Tomlin and Masterson. It's shocking to me that Masterson hasn't been moved yet, given the nasty choice if he's here at year's end of either making a QO that he might accept but in no way be worth, or letting him walk with nothing back.

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.
Jake D.
July 25, 2014 - 11:53 AM EDT
I believe the emergence of Kluber, Gomes, Brantley, Shaw and Allen has extended this team's window of opportunity to be competitive. All young rising stars that are currently top 5 AL representatives at their respective positions and under team control for another 4-6 years. It's not a bad core to build around plus Kipnis and Santana have had better production in the past and Chisenhall appears to be finally coming into his own. Then you've got Bauer, Salazar and House to a lesser extent showing flashes of being serviceable starters.

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.
July 25, 2014 - 11:03 AM EDT
This team is such a tease. Bad defense and capricious hitting. There's not much to sell now that ACab is injured, maybe Aviles, Axford have a little value, but not much.

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
July 25, 2014 - 10:56 AM EDT
Let's be honest.. having Raburn in the lineup instantly hurts the team alone on a given night. Factor in Swisher and Murphy.. and yikes. People keep talking about adding a bullpen arm or starter.... but IMO, we desperately need a bat more than anything else.
July 25, 2014 - 10:42 AM EDT
You have to allow for Brantley and Chisenhall to go through a rough spell. They can't carry the team offensively every night- Brantley didn't even get an All-Star break. The only other hitter that is above average on the team is Yan Gomes- solid .275 and good w RISP. He should be in there at first or DH and give Perez a chance to catch a coupla games a week- we don't know what his ceiling is and have to find out. We do know what Raburn's and Swishers and Murphy's ceilings are. They're hurting the team. Swisher is a tough case. Everybody likes his personality and he draws a huge paycheck that's pretty much unvoidable. But at the end of the day, he's hurting the team's chances to win on the field. You could plug 3/4 guys from the minors into his role right now and they could produce same or better numbers and get some training/development at the same time.
July 25, 2014 - 10:14 AM EDT
Time to sell and reload for next yr. The Indians are a 500 club to maybe 520 at best. Not good enough for October baseball. Nothing is going to change in next 60 games that we have not seen in the first 102 games.

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.

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