Second Thoughts Game #70: Indians 3, Red Sox 2
Tribe splits series behind Swisher's extra-inning blast
After losing four in a row, the Indians managed to salvage their road trip with two straight wins to put them back at the .500 mark and maintain their third-place position in the standings at three and a half games behind Detroit.
Nick Swisher was the hero on Sunday as he put the Tribe ahead in extra innings with a solo home run. It was Swisher's first RBI since returning from the DL and his first homer since going deep against the Athletics on May 16th.
Corey Kluber wasn't able to pitch deep into the game, but he did manage to get back on track as far as limiting the damage as he only allowed two runs in five and third innings of work. His command was a bit off, though as he did walk four batters, but it was a nice step back in the right direction after two straight subpar starts.
Player of the Game: Carlos Santana (3-5, 2B, K).
While the permanent starting position for Carlos Santana is currently undetermined, he appears to be turning it around at the plate. Since returning from the 7-day concussion DL, he has logged 10 games and has gone 12-for-35 (.343) with two doubles, two homers and eight runs batted in. His patience at the plate is still as strong as ever as he has drawn seven walks and only struck out eight times in those 10 games.
On Sunday, Santana had his best single-game performances of the season recording three hits in five at-bats, including a double. It marked the first time he has recorded at least three hits in a game this year raising his season batting average to .190, which is the highest it's been since April 11th when it was at .194.
Even with Michael Brantley and David Murphy coming through in the clutch and Lonnie Chisenhall racking up hits left and right, getting Carlos Santana back to being the middle-of-the-order hitter he is capable of being would benefit the Indians' offense more than anything. Right now, the Indians have the fifth lowest batting average and slugging percentage in the league from the cleanup spot at .227 and .360, respectively.
Bullpen Mafia: Redux
As has been the case in the past, the primary strength of this team is their bullpen. Currently, the Tribe relief staff is fourth in the league in ERA (3.13) and opposing batting average (.228) and second in strikeouts (225).
One interesting note about the Tribe bullpen is how well they've done in extra innings this season. As a team, the Indians are now 5-1 in extra inning games this season and the bullpen has done very well giving the team every chance to pull ahead or win the game. They currently have the second lowest ERA in the league in extra frames at 1.80 and the lowest WHIP at 0.80 om 15 innings of work.
Cody Allen covered both innings of bonus baseball for the Tribe on Sunday at Fenway as he didn't allow a base runner while striking out three Red Sox batters. In fact, the Tribe bullpen allowed only four base runners in five and two thirds innings in relief of Corey Kluber. One was via a hit allowed by Marc Rzepczynski and the others were all allowed by John Axford via bases on balls. They also managed to fan seven batters.
While most of the original members of the "Bullpen Mafia" are no longer with the team and with Vinnie Pestano currently in AAA, maybe the label doesn't fit as well anymore, but that doesn't change their effectiveness.
Up next: Angels (37-31) vs. Indians (35-35) @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.
The Indians return home to prepare for a rematch with the Angels, who swept them in Anaheim earlier this season. Trevor Bauer will take the hill for the Tribe against Angels ace Jered Weaver. Bauer was solid in his last start allowing only three runs in five and a third innings of work against the Royals, but his offense couldn't back him up as he was handed his fourth loss of the year.
Weaver made a start against the Tribe in April and while he allowed eight hits in five and a third innings, only two runs crossed the plate, so he was able to earn the win. In his last start against Oakland, Weaver also pitched five and a third innings, but allowed four runs, which was enough for the A's to take the victory and hand Weaver the loss.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
I don't see Santana shortening his swing and trying to go to left or center. He was just late on a pitch and hit a routine fly to left.
Good point about Kluber getting squeezed by the umpire. That was shameful. The Indians should ask the league office to review the tape of this game.
Axford had a guy struck out, too, and it got called a ball. Even the Red Sox announcers couldn't believe it.
The radar gun had Kluber's fastball at 93 and 94, so I don't agree that he's lost 3 mph. It's been at 93-94 all year.
Swisher is a concern, though I still hope that he'll return to his norm about about 245 / 335 and 20 HR before season's end. He is unlikely to be traded, even if he could be, which is doubtful right now.
Santana is hitting well since coming off the DL, but one of those hits was a routine fly ball that was lost in the sun. Still, I'll take 2-for-5 anyday from a guy hitting .190.
Swisher makes a rare contribution. Maybe that finally gets him going. He can't bat .210 all season, can he?