Second Thoughts Game #68: Indians 2, Nationals 0
Kluber shuts out Washington as Tribe win the three game series
Player of the Game: Corey Kluber (8 innings, 7 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB / 8 SO)
Now that’s how you pitch!
Indians starter Corey Kluber pitched the best game of his life on Sunday as the Tribe shutout Washington, 2-0 to take the three-game series. Pitching out of a bases loaded no out jam in the seventh inning and another two innings with runners on first and third and nobody out, Kluber earned every bit of that victory.
Offensively, Cleveland only managed to score one run on one hit off Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg (3-6, 2.50 ERA) who worked just five innings, but one run would be all the team would need thanks to Kluber.
Kluber goes another dominant eight innings
Talk about one memorable performance.
After throwing a career-high eight innings and yielding just one run against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, Kluber miraculously topped that performance throwing eight innings of shutout baseball against Washington on Sunday.
I’ll be honest, it’s not that I doubted Kluber, I just didn’t think he would become arguably the most consistent Tribe starter outside of ace Justin Masterson. In his last two starts, the hard throwing righty is 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA.
With his pinpoint control and high class of poise, Kluber has quietly made a name for himself in his first 10 starts this year. The right-hander improves his record to 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA, striking out 65 in 65 1/3 innings and walking just 12.
If there was one thing Kluber does have to do though, that is smile. Come on, you just pitched the two best games of your life, show a little smile. I think Nick Swisher should get him to do that, but if keeping a straight face and being emotionless gets more wins, than by all means that’s fine with me.
The JK Kid stays red hot
No player on the Tribe is more locked in offensively right now than second baseman Jason Kipnis. With a base hit in the sixth inning, Kipnis extended his hitting streak to 10 straight ballgames. Over the 10 game stretch, the left-handed slugger is batting .432 (16-for-37) with three doubles, a homer and eight RBI.
With shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera still on the 15-day DL with a right quad injury and first baseman Nick Swisher fighting a sore left shoulder, Kipnis dropped down to the three-hole in the Indians lineup on Sunday. As much as I would like seeing him contribute in that spot of the lineup, Kipnis thrives when instead batting second. When hitting in the two-hole, the second baseman is batting .288 (57-for-198), and hitting just .161 (5-for-31) batting third.
All in all, it’s nice to see Kipnis rebound after a slow start to the 2013 campaign, as he improved his batting average to a season-high .270 on Sunday.
Pestano slams the door
Getting handed the tough luck loss Saturday night after giving up the game-winning unearned run, closer Vinnie Pestano notched his first save of the season tossing a scoreless ninth inning.
For Pestano, it was his first save since Sept. 3, 2012 and just the sixth of his young career.
Since his forgettable meltdown on the mound in Boston on May 25, Pestano has become the reliable closer the Indians need with Chris Perez still rehabbing on the disabled list. The right-hander has given up just two runs in his last seven innings of work with no walks and seven strikeouts.
Winning after a tough loss
After falling to the Nationals Saturday night in a one-run heartbreaker, it was nice to see the Indians rebound quickly on Sunday.
Sure the team could easily be riding a five-game winning streak at the moment, but after losing seven straight on the road, the Tribe has now won four of their last five games. Cleveland has sure had their fair share of ups and downs already this season, but coming back to shutout the opposition after the most frustrating loss of the year certainly tells you something about this team and the veteran presence in the clubhouse.
Gomes to catch Kluber full-time?
Just how good has catcher Yan Gomes been for the Indians this season?
Coming to Cleveland along with Mike Aviles in an offseason trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for reliever Esmil Rogers, Gomes has impressed the Tribe brass hitting .273 with six homers and 17 RBI in just 30 games on the season.
My question is, should Gomes catch Kluber every outing? I sure think so.
Here are Kluber’s numbers when Gomes is catching compared when catcher Carlos Santana is behind the plate:
Santana catching: 1-3 record with a 5.52 ERA in five starts covering 29 1/3 innings.
Gomes catching: 3-1 record with a 2.03 ERA in five starts covering 31 innings.
Kluber’s numbers are much better with Gomes behind the plate, as he’s averaging three less runs per game over just about the same number of innings.
With the win, Cleveland (34-34) remains 4 1/2 games in back of the first place Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division. The team has now won four of their last five ballgames.
Up next for the Indians: Division play begins on Monday night, as the Tribe battles the red hot Kansas City Royals winners of 10 of their last 12 games. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (0-2, 15.26 ERA) will take the hill against Royals ace James Shields (2-6, 2.79 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. Shields is just 1-5 in his career against Cleveland with a 3.99 ERA, while Royals slugger Billy Butler is 6-for-13 (.462) in his career against Carrasco with two homers and four RBI.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.