Second Thoughts Game #126: Indians 1, Twins 4
Hughes outduels Kluber as Twins avoid sweep
Thursday's game was another reminder that nothing is automatic in baseball and even the best in the game have their off-days.
Corey Kluber still gave the Indians a quality outing allowing only three runs in seven innings of work, but by his standards, he was below par for the course against the Twins as the Tribe failed to complete the three-game sweep and finally propel themselves over three games above the .500 mark.
A solo blast by Zach Walters was the only run the Indians would push across home plate on Thursday as no one managed more than one hit. Phil Hughes continued his strong comeback campaign in his first year away from New York limiting the Tribe to just the one run over seven dominant innings. Casey Fien and Glen Perkins would finish the job for their ace.
Kluber's "Rough" Outing
I don't know about you, but if we're at a place where we're saying seven innings of three run ball is a rough outing for your ace, things are probably going pretty well at the top of the rotation. That has been exactly the case for Indians ace Corey Kluber this season as on Thursday, he suffered his first loss since the end of June and gave up three or more runs for the first time since before the All-Star break.
Coming into Thursday, Kluber had the lowest ERA in the second half among qualifying starters (0.76). Unfortunately, the Twins hitters managed to work the right-hander for three runs on 6 hits, including a solo home run and four walks. To put things in perspective, the Tribe ace walked four total batters throughout the month of July.
Even with his struggles, Kluber still managed to fan eight batters, which gives him seven straight starts with seven strikeouts or more. With his eight whiffs on Thursday, the right-hander has officially eclipsed 200 strikeouts on the season to become the first Indians hurler to accomplish the feat since CC Sabathia in 2007.
I think what we learned on Thursday is that Corey Kluber is still, in fact, human, contrary to some beliefs, but even his human side is better than a lot of pitchers in the league.
The Power of Walters
For the second consecutive game and for the fourth time in nine games with the Indians so far, Zach Walters has gone deep as he continues to showcase the impressive power that he has been known for in the minor leagues before being acquired by the Tribe in the Asdrubal Cabrera trade.
After belting a monstrous solo shot to straightaway center field in yesterday's ballgame, the young switch-hitter followed up today with another blast to right field in the fifth to tie the game at one at the time. It would end up being the only run scored by the Tribe.
There is no question now when Walters makes good contact, a ball is probably going to travel a long way. However, one concerning element of his play with Cleveland so far has been his lack of plate discipline. He has now struck out in all but one of his nine games with the Tribe and has recorded multiple strikeouts in four of those contests, including Thursday where he had two giving him 13 with his new team.
It's also worth noting that all his homers have been solo shots. In 41 combined big league games between Cleveland and Washington this season, Walters has had 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position and has only four hits with none of them being home runs. Plus, interestingly enough, in those 41 games, he has only one extra base hit that wasn't a home run. So basically, if he doesn't strike out and does get a hit, it's probably going out of the ballpark. (Mark Reynolds, anyone?).
Still, as a young player, one would hope he would be able to adjust and prevent himself from forming poor habits at the plate to the point where he becomes a strict one-trick pony. He has done a nice job of working the count and battling pitchers in some of his at-bats, but it would still be nice to see him get on base more often and not when he's taking a lap after mashing one over the outfield wall.
Up Next: Astros (54-74) vs. Indians (64-62) @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.
Carlos Carrasco will return to the mound in hopes of continuing his newfound dominance in his return to the starting rotation. After not earning a win as a starter since 2011, the right-hander now has back victories in his last two starts against the Yankees and Orioles pitching 12 combined innings of shutout baseball. He has only made one previous career appearance against Houston out of the bullpen pitching one shutout inning with a hit and a strikeout.
Bo Porter and the Astros will counter with right-hander Brad Peacock, who has struggled for the most part this season going 3-8 with a 5.47 ERA. In his last 10 games, he has pitched even worse going 1-4 with a 6.26 ERA with his last start lasting only four and a third innings against Boston, but not before the Red Sox tagged him for five runs.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
And the Indians once again have a hole at third base. Not that there wasn't before, but at least with Chisenhall hitting you could live with the poor defense. He's looking very much like a platoon guy who should split time at 3B/1B/OF/DH. Urshela looks like the future....although with the way Francona dislikes using the kids, that future may be in 2021 at this rate.
Then on Defense he allow that grounder to get by him to score 2. My first thought was that a better 3B, like Urshela, would have at least stopped the ball from leaving the infield, which would have kept them from scoring for the moment at least.
And Bourn+Aviles to lead off? Really, Tito? They both have below AVG to bad career OBP. Aviles saw all of 9 pitches in 4 trips to the plate. Playing him over JRam at this point is stupid. He's not a better hitter and much less defender, offers less speed and OBP skills. It's Tito playing his buddy. Aviles should be on revocable waivers, instead he hits 2nd playing SS and OF