Second Thoughts Game #110: Indians 4, Marlins 3
Tribe escapes with their ninth win over their last 10 games in thrilling nail biter
Player of the Game: Jason Kipnis (3-for-4 with 3 RBI)
It was a nail biter finish, but the Indians escaped and hung on to beat the Marlins 4-3 to win their first game in Miami since June 14, 2007.
Cleveland got back to their winning ways Saturday night thanks in large part to more solid starting pitching, and even more speed on the bases.
Another team victory gives the Tribe nine wins over their last 10 games and a 14-5 record over their last 19 ballgames.
Z-Mac is back
Indians starter Zach McAllister was nearly perfect for most of his outing Saturday, as the right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth at Marlins Park.
He would yield just two runs on three hits through 5 1/3 innings in what was his third start back from the disabled list. I think Tribe fans can finally agree that not only is Z-Mac back fully healthy, but he’s also back to his consistent ways in the rotation.
So far in his first three starts since returning from injury, McAllister is 0-1 with a 3.63 ERA where he’s walked two and struck out nine in 17 1/3 innings. With the final two month stretch of the season well underway, it’s nice to have Z-Mac back to full health as the Tribe looks to lean on his consistency down the stretch.
If Cleveland can make the postseason, could McAllister end up taking Ubaldo Jimenez’s spot in a four-man playoff rotation? He almost very certainly can.
Kipnis continues to rip offensively
Ask someone who has been the Indians most valuable player all season and nine out of 10 would say second baseman Jason Kipnis.
And they’re right, Kipnis has hands down been the force in the Tribe lineup when the team has needed it the most. He had another big game Saturday going 3-for-4 and driving in three of Cleveland’s four runs on the night.
Kipnis has hit just .255 with two homers in 14 games since the All-Star break, but still holds a great .294 season average. I wondered how the second baseman would fare with teammate Vinnie Pestano getting sent down to Triple-A Columbus, and Saturday proved fans don’t need to worry.
Extend his stats over the final two months of the season, there’s a chance the 26-year-old Kipnis could in fact finish the year with 100 RBI. If he can do that, he will become the first Indian since Victor Martinez and Travis Hafnereach drove in 100+ in 2007.
Bourn to fly
Maybe it’s the fact that Michael Bourn was playing in a National League Park again, but he had himself a career day on the bases Saturday.
With three stolen bases in the ballgame, Bourn tied his career-high total for a game as he contributed half of the Indians six stolen bases on the night also tying the franchise high in a single game since Sept. 21, 2000.
The swiped bags also puts Cleveland tied with the Boston Red Sox for second place in all of Major League Baseball with 84 stolen bases on the season. It’s nice to finally say the Tribe has speed both in the lineup and on the bench, which is something that hasn’t been said for many years.
The Indians have averaged 90 stolen bases the past five years and they’re on pace to shatter their average with two months of the season to go.
Perez nails down the save
It wasn’t easy, but closer Chris Perez notched his 16th save of the year Saturday as he converted his tenth save over his last 10 save opportunities.
Perez allowed back-to-back hits to put the Marlins within run, but was able to escape unharmed after putting the winning run on second with two outs.
You have to give credit where credit is due and CP certainly deserves his fair share of credit. The guy has been lights out since returning from injury, as the earned run he gave up Saturday was his first since July 11.
If only he would talk about his recent success to the Cleveland media, right? Honestly, it’s probably the best thing he isn’t for one that he is having success and two that nothing much of good usually comes out of it.
The silent Perez is now 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA over his last 18 innings.
With the victory, Cleveland (61-49) remains just three games in back of Detroit for first place in the A.L. Central. The win also puts them a half game in front of the Baltimore Orioles for one of the two wild card spots.
Up next for the Indians: The Tribe will look to take the three-game series in the rubber match Sunday, as lefty Scott Kazmir (6-4, 4.11 ERA) faces Marlins right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (2-1, 3.47 ERA) at 1:10 p.m. Kazmir has been brilliant over his last eight starts owning a record of 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA since June 21.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.