Second Thoughts Game #87: Royals 1, Indians 4
Kluber and Brantley shine ahead of All-Star team unveiling
As the Indians aimed to win a key divisional series against the Royals, All-Star candidates Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber each made their final push to represent the Tribe in the Midsumer Classic. Kluber pitched eight and a third innings as he earned his eighth win of the season while Brantley went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The All-Star squads were unveiled following the game on Sunday with Brantley being named to the team as a reserve while Kluber was added as a candidate for the Final Vote and will need the help of Tribe fans to make the squad.
Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall could also have earned some consideration, but both ended up missing the cut. Gomes did record two hits and two RBI via a two-run home run, which marked his 10th of the season. Chisenhall, on the other hand, went 0-for-3 as he was the only Tribe hitter to not record a hit on Sunday.
From PTBNL to All-Star
One could make an argument that Michael Brantley deserves to be starting in the outfield for the All-Star team. Regardless, he got the All-Star nod that he most definitely deserves. On Sunday, the Tribe outfielder recored two hits and his 57th RBI of the season, which ties him for seventh in the league in that category. He is also fourth in the league in batting average (.321) and fifth in OBP (.385). He also is tied for the MLB lead in outfield assists with 10.
Not only is the CC Sabathia trade looking a lot better even if Brantley was the player-to-be-named-later in that deal, the four-year extension the Indians signed Dr. Smooth to this offseason is also looking like a steal.
I don't even want to think about where the Indians would be right now without Brantley. On a team full of streaky players, Brantley has been pretty much the only consistent force in the lineup and has single-handedly carried the offense with his clutch hitting on a team that has struggled at hitting with runners in scoring position this season.
Indians veteran DH Jason Giambi even went as far to say that this still isn't the best baseball we will see from Brantley. And I'm not sure I disagree.
If you ask me, Corey Kluber should've been an automatic choice for an All-Star selection. While the league is loaded with quality pitching, Kluber deserves to be included among the top pitchers in the league as he has the eighth best ERA (2.86), the fourth most strikeouts (137) and the third most innings-pitched (125.2).
Sunday was no different for the right-hander as he kept the Royals in check through eight and a third innings of one run ball with a Mike Moustakas solo shot in the fifth inning being the lone blemish on Kluber's stat line. He fanned ten or more batters for the third time this season with two of those starts coming against Kansas City, including his complete-game effort earlier this year.
Kluber has become a unique pitching specimen. He can throw multiple pitches with movement while maintaining near-pinpoint control. He can also work quickly and conserve his pitch count while still racking up whiffs. It really is a special mixture of talent that has and should continue to make him successful as the Tribe ace.
While he will not get an All-Star selection outright, he still has a shot at joining the league elite in Minneapolis for the Midsummer Classic via the Final Vote, which will take place between now and Thursday. The Indians have teamed up with the Colorado Rockies, who have first baseman Justin Morneau up for the Final Vote in the National League, as they encourage fans to vote for both players in a joint effort.
Fans can vote online or use the "Vote Kluber" and "Vote Morneau" hashtags on Twitter on Thursday.
Welcome to the Show, T-Holt!
Okay, this was special for me personally since I'm spending my summer under the employment of the Indians AA affiliate Akron RubberDucks. In fact, I watched most of Sunday's Tribe game from the box office at Canal Park. Let's just say Tyler Holt got a nice ovation from all of us on staff as he trotted out to right field at Progressive Field as a defensive substitution in the top of the ninth.
Holt was a mainstay in the Akron outfield the last couple seasons as he patiently waited for his shot at the next level. Well, after starting the 2014 season down here in Akron once again, he provided the Indians with more than enough evidence that he was ready for a promotion batting .298 with a .416 OBP and 11 stolen bases in 39 games for the RubberDucks.
Even with his appearance in AAA Columbus being the first of his career, Holt not only didn't miss a step, he actually improved his stats with a .302/.433/.843 line as far as batting average, OBP and OPS, respectively. He also swiped 10 bases in 37 games for the Clippers. Between the two teams, the 25-year-old Florida native batted .300 with two homers, 13 doubles, a triple, 26 RBI, 21 steals, a .425 OBP and an .805 OPS in 76 games.
While Michael Bourn continues to nurse his hamstring back to health, I have a good feeling Holt can provide a spark if given ample playing time. If his on-base ability translates to the big league level, everything else should fall into place pretty easily.
Up next: Yankees (44-43) vs. Indians (43-44) @ Progressive Field. First pitch at 7:05pm ET.
Derek Jeter will make his final trip to Cleveland as the New York Yankees visit Progressive Field for a four-game series. Rookie right-hander Shane Greene will make his first major league start in place of left-hander Vidal Nuno, who was traded to Arizona for right-hander Brandon McCarthy. Greene made one appearance against the Red Sox out of the bullpen. He walked three batters in a third of an inning, but he did strike out a batter.
Greene will be matched up against ailing Indians sinkerballer Justin Masterson who has yet to find his groove this season due to a lingering knee issue and other possible underlying problems we may not be aware of. In his career against New York, Masterson is 4-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 12 games (8 starts). He did pitch a complete-game shutout in his last start against the Bombers at Progressive Field last season.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.