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Second Thoughts Game #144-145: Indians sweep twin bill

Kluber, House and Santana power Tribe to doubleheader sweep

Second Thoughts Game #144-145: Indians sweep twin bill
T.J. House shuts out the Twins over seven innings of work as the Tribe sweeps Thursday's doubleheader. (Photo: AP)
September 12, 2014
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As America took time to reflect on the events of 13 years ago, the Indians and Twins played, fittingly, a twin-bill at Progressive Field and it was the Tribe who came out on top in both matchups thanks to strong pitching and enough offense to dispense of the Twins and give Cleveland a series win ahead of a key matchup against the Tigers.

Corey Kluber and T.J. House got the Tribe pitching staff back on track after a brief struggle on the mound in the previous two games. Between the two, they combined for fifteen and a third innings while allowing just two runs on 12 hits with 15 strikeouts and no walks.

Carlos Santana provided a lot of the offense as he racked up four RBI on three hits, including two home runs during both games combined. He has now matched a career high with 27 long balls on the season and has now driven in 77 runs as his hot streak continues. 

Kluber Making History

You must be doing something right this season when you're now being mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Cliff Lee, Sam McDowell and Gaylord Perry. Well, Corey Kluber has done a lot of things right in 2014 beyond establishing himself as the new and hopefully long-term ace of the Cleveland staff.

Following his 15th victory on Thursday over the Twins in which he pitched eight and a third innings while allowing only two runs and fanning seven, Kluber now becomes the first Tribe pitcher to win 15 games since Cliff Lee topped that mark back in 2008.

With his seven strikeouts, Kluber has now topped "Sudden Sam" McDowell's 225-whiff campaign in 1966 for 16th all-time on the Indians' list of most punchouts in a single season. Kluber also becaome the first Tribe pitcher to strike out 230 batters since Gaylord Perry accomplished the feat in 1972. The right-hander needs just 16 more strikeouts to crack the top 10 of most strikeouts in a season by a Tribe hurler.

Kluber is firmly embedded in the Cy Young discussion in the American League as it has really become a three-pitcher race in the American League between him, Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale. Of course, King Felix is having one of the best seasons of his career and will be tough to beat, but you can certainly make a case for the others, especially Kluber, who has been one of the most vital components to the Tribe's season.

Carlos Slam-tana

Last weekend, I wrote about how Carlos Santana has had a career season that goes beyond the batting average. Since then, he has raised his batting mark back above .230, but in the process has tied a career high for home runs in a season with 27 and provided a good chunk of the Tribe's offense.

During Thursday's twin bill, Santana went 3-for-8 with two home runs and four runs-batted in bringing his season total to 77, which puts him just two shy of his career high back in 2011. The Tribe first baseman also hit 27 bombs that year, which still stands as the franchise record for the most by a switch-hitter. At this rate, Santana should top his own mark before the season's end.

What was intriguing about Santana's performance on Thursday was the fact that he put good swings on the ball in nearly every one of his at-bats. In fact, from watching the at-bats between home runs during games one and two, he very well could have three or four home runs today. It's nice to be able to say the Indians could have their first 30-home-run hitter since Grady Sizemore in 2008.

Santana also flashed some leather at first base in game one making a couple spectacular plays. It's clear that he has settled in at the position and looks more comfortable than, arguably, any other position he's played in the big leagues.

Again, the batting average isn't exciting, but just about every other statistical category paints a picture of a very productive season for the Tribe first baseman.

Not In My House

Indians starters have been on a roll in the second half and T.J. House has certainly been no exception. The left-hander came into Thursday's doubleheader with two consecutive starts of seven innings with one run allowed in each. Well, thrice is nice as House not only matched his performance from his last couple outings with seven innings of work, he went a step further in shutting out the Twins and striking out eight in the process.

To say House has had his good stuff working would be an understatement. Even more impressive than the two runs allowed in his last 21 innings-pitched is the fact that he has not walked a single batter in that span. He is clearly throwing strikes, pitching to contact and getting swings and misses.

House credits using a Go-Pro camera during his bullpen sessions for his recent success. By setting it up from the catcher's perspective, he can see his pitches on tape and be able to make adjustments accordingly.

With the win, House has now evened his record at 3-3 and his ERA has dropped to 3.42 on the year. His 20 strikeouts over his last three outings has increased his punchout rate to just over seven per nine innings. Conversely, his lack of free passes has lowered his walk rate to two per nine innings.

Up Next: Indians (76-69) vs. Tigers (80-66) @ Comerica Park. First pitch at 7:08 pm ET.

Carlos Carrasco has been lights-out since returning to the Indians rotation and he hopes to continue his dominance heading into Motown in a series with serious playoff implications for both the Tribe and the Tigers. The right-hander came just shy of a complete game effort his last time out against the White Sox. In a start earlier this month against Detroit, Carrasco pitched five and a third innings and walked away with a no-decision.

For Detroit, David Price hopes to make a strong final push for his new club as he has had mixed results since leaving Tampa Bay and joining the Tigers at the trade deadline. He nearly had a complete game his last time out, but was tagged for five runs in the process by San Francisco. His previous start was against the Tribe in Cleveland where he held them to just one run over seven innings for his 13th win of the season.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

September 12, 2014 - 6:30 PM EDT
C L Who & Matthew.

Absolutely could not agree more.

Astounded at any negativity toward santana.
Where the offence would be without him? oh my I don't even want to imagine.
September 12, 2014 - 6:17 PM EDT
C L Who----

Couldn't agree more. I just shake my head when I read the trade Santana stuff. I've tried explaining to people on here they need to look past the batting average but I've grown tired of it and am just content to know he's helping my team.
September 12, 2014 - 4:31 PM EDT
i am certain there are a slew of general mgrs who look at the indians from parent club all thru the minor league system and think omg this is gonna be a force to reckon with for a long time if they can just be avg defensively and get a right handed bat such as cuddyer to protect gomer and carlos in the order and to be adequate defensively and he always has been in the past they have 25 million between masty cabbie and ax i do not want to give it all to anyone player but i am sure we can make attractive short term contract offer to mike so he can prove he is healthy and maybe get more money in 2016 as a dh somewhere so maybe a one year deal with 8 figures is acceptible. as for defense i think one reason it has improved is j ram at shortstop and lindor is even better a great shortstop makes those players around them even better ask robbie alomar if visquel didnt make him better same with travis fryman, the defensive struggles may not be as crippling in 2015 regardless whether jram or lindor at shortstop.
September 12, 2014 - 3:11 PM EDT
I've been clamoring for Gomes to move up in the order for weeks. Makes no sense to have your second best hitter in Gomes hitting 6th or 7th. I'd actually even put Gomes 4th and Santana 5th and Chisenhall 6th. Put Kipnis 8th or 9th.
September 12, 2014 - 3:08 PM EDT
House has been extraordinary this year. I would expect a step back from him next year.....but still be solid. I can't see this entire rotation maintaining this going into next year....but if they do then of course that is great.

Here is a number for a first baseman this season Santana is hitting .288 with 20 HR, 57 RBI and .961 OPS. At third base he hit .129 with 2 HR, 7 RBI and .590 OPS. Looks like he has found a home at first both defensively and offensively.
September 12, 2014 - 3:08 PM EDT
Agree we need Carlos. But he's yet to hit even 270. And you can no more erase the first 150 ABs as the last 150. You are what you are. His looong swing makes him prone to slumps.

Please put Gomes 5th and leave him there!!!!! Tony, what gives on this? Putting him 7 or even 6 drives me nuts!!! And I don't care whose pitching.
September 12, 2014 - 2:12 PM EDT
I wonder what Santana's numbers would be if he did not bat 150 for first 2 months of the season. Also he has improved as a fielder at 1B.

TJ House has basically taken away the 5th spot from Tomlin and McAllister.

September 12, 2014 - 1:36 PM EDT
Completely agree CL. Santana is the second or third best hitter in this lineup. The dropoff from Brantley, Gomes and Santana is pretty significant - although perhaps Chisenhall is entering the discussion.
C L Who
September 12, 2014 - 1:30 PM EDT
What is amazing to me is the number of fans who constantly advocating trading Carlos. He's hitting what? He'll probably finish with 30 or more HR, walks as much as he strikes out (very rare for a power hitter), has a .369 OBP, and 44% of his hits this season have gone for extra bases. Plus he plays a really good first base and is on team friendly contract.

Tribe fans constantly complain about the lack of power in the middle of the lineup. It's not Santana's date, only 39 players in the majors have even 20 HR.

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