April 21, 2014

Pitchers’ Duel Crumbles Into Chicago Slugfest

I’ve had the pleasure1of recapping several of Corey Kluber’s starts this season. For nearly six innings tonight, it was his best start of the season by far as he held the potent White Sox offense in check. But, those pesky pale hosers broke through with two outs in the sixth and struck for four runs. The Tribe had no answer for that, mustering just two hits of their own, as they went on to lose this final series opener 11-0.

Kluber had command early in this game and navigated through the first five innings allowing just two hits while walking one and striking out five. His changeup was effective, and in addition to the K’s, he was jamming the White Sox for lots of easy grounders and shallow fly balls. In the first five, his biggest threat was in the second when he surrendered two leadoff singles and a passed ball by Santana moved up the runners. Then came the sixth.

In the momentum shifting sixth, Kluber retired Gordon Beckham on a groundout before Dewayne Wise bunted his way on base. Kluber bounced back to strike out Kevin Youkilis before squaring off with Adam Dunn. During Dunn’s AB, the Tribe battery tried to keep tabs on Wise, owner of 17 steals in 98 games. But, when Wise took off on a 1-1 count, Santana’s throw was too late and to the wrong side of the bag.2 Of course, Dunn made them pay as he took a vanilla 91 mph slider with too much of the plate and served it into center to break the scoreless tie. After a Paul Konerko walk, Alex Rios followed that up by banging one high off the left field wall, plating Dunn and dispatching of Kluber. Joe Smith then gave up a pair of singles to A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo before recording the final out of the inning.

I decided that if Kluber were a cereal, he’d be Captain Kluber, the most bland, unappealing, store-brand cereal you could find on the shelf.3 I’ve said this before, but his arsenal just does nothing to excite me after 12 starts. This guy is going to be 27 years old shortly after Opening Day next year. The nicest thing I can say about him is that with the exception of his first start, he hasn’t been beaten to a pulp like his fellow starters have. The cold and lonely truth, however, is that Kluber probably has as good of a shot at making the rotation as Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Chris Seddon, Scott Barnes, and Fausberto Carnandez.4  Because, let’s face it, on this island of misfit toys that is the Indians’ starting rotation, you don’t even need to produce quality starts or eat innings, you just have to avoid wetting yourself. Perhaps I’m being a little hard on Kluber, considering he was one batter away from six shutout innings tonight, but I’m tired of inferior goods being marketed to us as prospects and solutions. The White Sox struck for six more in the ninth off Esmil Rogers and Scott Maine with Viciedo’s grand slam the crown jewel of the inning.

As the season winds to a close, this is probably the last time I’ll be recapping a game, so I was hopeful that I would get to say nice things about the offense coming off that impressive showing this weekend. Instead, the offense was non-existent tonight. Clearly, they tired themselves out against the Royals this weekend with 29 runs in the 3 games, because they mustered a whopping two hits tonight. That’s a third-inning single from Shin-Soo Choo and a ninth-inning single from Cord Phelps, if you were keeping score at home. The Indians managed just two other baserunners besides that. Hector Santiago, briefly the closer for the team and a solid bullpen arm, started this one and struck out TEN Indian batters.5 I’ll end with my best attempt at happy thoughts on the offense. I like Kipnis, Choo, Cabrera, Brantley, Chisenhall, and Santana, and I’m sure most of you do too. I think they can be starting components of a competitive team with some help. I hope Russ Canzler can become that bench bat with some pop. Also, there should be some money to help the offense at either first base, left field, and/or DH6

Sadly, the best news to come out of tonight is that even though the Indians weren’t responsible, the Tigers took care of business against the Royals and eliminated the White Sox from postseason contention. Since Chicago’s September record is now 12-17, I’m only saddened by the fact that Ozzie Guillen isn’t still in the opposing dugout for us to return the favor. See you on the flip side, Chi-Town!

(Photo: Tony Dejak/AP)

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Footnotes:

  1. Tongue-in-cheek here. []
  2. Carlos also had two passed balls. I agree with the STO guys, it looked like Santana was a little lazy behind the dish. []
  3. Kind of like Kix. Except that I like Kix. []
  4. I’m considering Masterson, Jimenez, and McAllister as locks as well as Carrasco if he’s healthy. []
  5. Twelve Indians in all struck out. Russ Canzler (twice) and Lonnie Chisenhall (thrice) were repeat offenders. []
  6. Provided we don’t sign over another $5 million to Grady Sizemore. []

  • Lyon25

    If they give Grady a contract, then I will not even watch a game next year, let alone buy tickets.

  • mgbode

    what if it’s to be Sandy’s bench coach?

  • mgbode

    ok, I decided to skip MNF, skip the Indians and watch some real live baseball last night. Had the A`s v. Rangers game on the TV along with the Angels v. M`s game on the laptop.

    Wow. It is amazing that only 2 of these teams are going to make the postseason. Mike Trout is back to form the last few days after a September rookie-slump and he did EVERYTHING. He hit what should have been a base-clearing double off the wall that he easily got to 3B on before the throw even hit the cutoff man.

    Coco Crisp continued his Mike Trout impression in the other game. At one point he hit a lazy looper to CF to get an RBI and beat Hamilton’s throw to 2B for a double. He then stole 3B where he got a terrible jump and beat the throw anyway. Finally, on a very short flyball, he tagged up and beat Hamilton’s throw to the plate. He was ridiculous.

    All of this on the back-drop of both teams having great rotations (the A`s have an all-rookie rotation going at the moment to boot. 2 of which they claimed off waivers). And, plenty of other hitters (Angels: Pujols, Hunter, Trumbo….A`s: Cespedes, Donaldson, Moss).

    Looking at the Angels and then looking at our team, it is hard to believe we can ever make the postseason. I mean they have Weaver/Wilson/Greinke/Haren/Santana as their rotation. Trout/Pujols/Trumbo/Hunter/Aybar as hitters.

    Thank God for the AL Central. We still need alot more to compete than we currently have, but we can at least imagine us eventually getting there. I cannot even imagine how much worse it would be to be stuck in one of the other divisions (enjoy that rebuilding effort in the AL West Houston).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Oakland is an A’mazing story. Believe in Beane! Trout is a beast but Cabrera is unreal a possible triple crown, nice.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Rather have Francona as manager, Alomar as bench coach and Sarbaugh (sp) as hitting instructor.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Corey Klubber as I refer to him!

  • Lyon25

    Possibly