Indians 2; Mariners 0: Kluber’s “Maddux” bests King Felix in a performance for the ages

kluber mariners

 

If only Corey Kluber could start every game for the Indians……

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the matchup of aces at Progressive Field. Felix Hernandez, currently the favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award took the mound for the Seattle Mariners. Kluber, the Indians clear number one, opposed him. If you are a baseball purist and love pitchers duels, this was your night.

I took both of my kids with me to the game. My seven year old son kept score for all nine innings, afterwards, I told him to save that scorecard. As I said to both him and his younger sister, “you may never see a pitching performance like this ever again.”

Kluber was filthy. Nasty. Disgusting. Un-hittable. Untouchable. Whatever adjectives you want to come up with that can describe a great outing, that was Kluber last night. On the same day the Indians traded their former top dog Justin Masterson, their true ace showed everyone what a top of the rotation starter looks like. As a homage to their departed teammate, the Indians all pulled their socks up. Everyone emerged looking like Masterson, except for Kluber.

“No one let me know about it so I had to run up here and change after I warmed up,” said Kluber. “I didn’t want to be the only one with them down. It was a little late notice.”

Once the socks came up, Corey pitched the game of his life. He and Hernandez traded zeroes for the first four and a half innings. Kong Felix actually was better to that point. He was perfect. But then the offense did just enough to give Kluber all he needed.

Carlos Santana walked to end the perfect game in the fifth in front of a Lonnie Chisenhall double. A strange infield single by Nick Swisher loaded the bases. After David Murphy’s groundout forced Santana at home, the Tribe’s hottest bat, Yan Gomes, came up with the only hit of the night that truly mattered. The Yanimal slapped a double the other way past a diving Logan Morrison at first, scoring two. He continues to make the Indians look like geniuses for stealing him away from Toronto for nothing.

The two runs were all Kluber needed. His four pitch arsenal was on full display. The Mariners had nothing for him. They rarely worked him deep into the count. Kluber only had one three-ball count and threw just 16 balls all night. Think about that for a minute.

“That’s always my game plan,” Kluber said, “try to get that early contact and just try to stay the course. They came out of the gates aggressive and they got more aggressive in the middle of the game.”

As the game got longer, Kluber just kept getting better. After Morrison’s one out single in the fifth, the Tribe ace retired the final 13 batters in a row on the way to his first career complete game shutout.

“There have been three or four times when I’ve seen him like this,” said pitching coach Mickey Callaway. “In his last two starts, after he warmed up in the bullpen, I came in and told Tito, “He’s going to pitch pretty good tonight.’ The key for him is fastball command. He’s throwing 95 mph and putting it where he wants.”

In baseball circles, a “Maddux” game is almost as revered as a no-hitter these days because they are so rare and impressive. A “Maddux,” in reference to Hall of Fame starter Greg Maddux, is a complete game shutout of less than 99 pitches. What Kluber did was a Super Maddux – Nine innings, zero runs, three hits, eight strikeouts, and zero walks in a tidy 85 pitches.

“It’s almost just as good as a perfect game or no-hitter,” Gomes said of Kluber’s stellar night. “I was actually getting kind of nervous in the ninth. I’m like, ‘This is good — can’t mess this up.'”

Here are some numbers that truly put put into perspective just how amazing this was:

Since 1988, this was just the 20th complete game shutout of 85 pitches or less. Only four of those instances saw the pitcher strikeout eight or more batters. The last to do it was Rich Harden over none years ago. Let us not forget that Kluber did all of this coming off of nine innings in Kansas City where he didn’t allow an earned run. That brings us tho this:

“Our guys were battling their butts off. That guy is good,” said Seattle skipper Lloyd McClendon. “I’ve faced him many times in the past [with Detroit] and what he did tonight was not a fluke, trust me.”

Kluber and Hernandez made such quick work of their opponents that this one ended in two hours and 10 minutes. One thing that may go unnoticed here but certainly won’t nationally; King Felix has now set a new Major League record with 14 consecutive starts of seven innings or more with two earned runs or less. That is Hall of Fame kind of stuff. But in this one, he was the losing pitcher.

“Rarely do you see two guys that are that good and then on top of their game to boot,” said Francona. “The way Felix is throwing, the only way you’re going to win is by somebody doing something pretty special. And that’s what Klubes did.”

Despite the incredible performance from Kluber, there was still an air of sadness within the clubhouse, knowing that they had lost one of their favorite teammates. The high socks and Kluber gem were a fitting send off for Masterson.

Said Kluber: “He’s (Masterson) been a big part of helping me learn to be a big leaguer and learn to pitch up here. Hopefully I can pass along some information he’s given me along the way. I think we all accept a little bit more responsibility now. He was the quote, unquote leader of the staff. Guys looked to him. Now, we have to do a little bit more.”

The 2-0 win stemmed the tide for now, but the Indians still have a lot of work to do. Today’s 4 PM trading deadline could see shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera go or another veteran piece come in. You just never know with this team. Tonight they will lookm to take the series by sending Zach McAllister to the mound to face off with Seattle right-hander Chris Young.

SIDE NOTE: During last night’s game, a foul ball tip from Jason Kipnis got loose and ended up in Asdrubal’s hands. I held up my four year old girl and yelled “Cabby.” He looked right at me, pointed to her, and threw the ball my way. A man in front probably two seats to my left, leaned across three people and caught the ball. Then didn’t give it to my daughter. It was clearly meant for her. The guy never even wavered or turned around despite being heckled by many sitting around us. I hope he slept well last night.

(photo via Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Red Sox nation always has room…just sayin’!!!

  • Steve

    The difference is the process. Being bad means that you haven’t performed your job well, and thanks to the system, you still get highly reward. Intentionally tanking is taking advantage of that system that rewards losing. The Rays had a bad process.

    No, what I’m literally saying is that I don’t give a lot of credit to hitting on high draft picks (or being able to outspend everyone else on the FA market). Those are things that don’t take brilliant management.

    If we’re looking to judge managements, then yes, I want to strip back and look at how they acquired their top players. Finding Ortiz or trading for Scherzer take something special. Taking the consensus #1 overall pick in Price doesn’t.

  • nj0

    Could be a buying low thing. Both have had some ML success.

    I’m curious what the Indians are offering teams. Do they expect someone to just give them good players?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    If it was possible to have to much personality it has to be Swishalicious. The problem is he’s sucked. Had he been decent it would be okay but it hasn’t. Listen the Indians went for the story they used the PR more then anything. Unfortunately it’s blown up in their faces. On top of that Bourn has been as bad a failure. That one bugs me more then Swisher. I liked Bourn but his health ruined what may have been. Those were the 2 big FA signing and what was pointed to as “when we are close we will spend” well KABOOM! On top of that the Indians only spent when they sold their TV network. And lets not forget the Masterson saga. I’ll beat this pony to death…the Indians only benefited by Masterson’s greed otherwise they’d have given him a serious chunk of coinage. Imagine that for a moment.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    What do the Indians really have to trade though? Lets be brutally honest. See this is another important element that gets overlooked in many comments around here. Yes the Indians are in a small market yadda yadda but the larger market teams not only have $$$ but talent. For every major free agent move they have talent in the minor leagues which allows them to make big moves too. The Indians not only haven’t had the $$$ but they haven’t had the talent. The fact that the do what they do is really amazing it’s just that what they do is stay afloat when everyone wants them to win. Just my opinion.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Oh, I’m agreeing with the concept. My point was that I’ve realized I didn’t care as much about MLB and knowing the no-names, whereas one of the reasons I enjoy NFL fantasy so much is that I do care to know those lesser guys.

    I think part of that is that NFL is more of a team sport so knowing who is who gives a better flavor to the game and each team’s strategies within the game/each play, whereas with MLB it’s still the same basic strategies no matter what. Plus, I’m more interested in watching random NFL games than almost any MLB games.

  • nj0

    What’s funny is that spending spree, imo, had less to do with the network sale and more to do with the simple fact that we had expiring contracts in Hafner, Choo, and a few other smaller contracts. We’re over $80M now, but we’ve been there before in ’08.

    So it’s not like we’re spending this unprecedented amount of money. More Tribespeak.

  • nj0

    True… basically anyone we have who can contribute to a major league team is integral for us to succeed, either now or in the future.

  • nj0

    Guess I’m just tired of all the “Indians are in on this guy!” talk. Cause either we don’t have the guys to make it happen or, if we do, we’re too timid to reach.

  • Steve

    I’m not sure there’s much “tribespeak”. They’ll spend $80-90M if they think they can contend, and $50-60M when they don’t. Seems pretty straightforward.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    That probably is more true then the sale of the network but in the end for whatever reason they actually spent it was only because they had an influx of money elsewhere. I won playing poker, I bought a date for the night, call it even. Well not true because she was the winner. If ya smell what the Rock is cookin’!!!!

  • nj0

    The Tribespeak being that the added salaries were somehow related to the sale of the network.

    Also worth noting, $81M in 2009 is $90M in 2014 when adjusted for inflation. We also spent $93M in 2001. That’d be $125M today.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well that’s just reporting part. After all of the Cavaliers stuff I’m a bit burned out but I had no skin in this MLB deadline but the BoSox are going bonkers and I didn’t expect it. Plus, I like what they are doing. Championship in 2013, horrible season in 2014, back to relevancy in 2015? I can dig it!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    And no significant prospects other then Lindor.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Btw reaction to Sox moves in Boston is mixed at best it’s funny to hear the people against it. You’d have thought they traded Yaz. Oy Vey!

  • nj0

    Bosox fans tend to be the craziest out there imo. Ready to go at the drop of the hat.

  • Steve

    If the Indians said that the added salaries were related to the sale of the network, I must have missed it then. It seems more like a message board creation than anything else.

    Inflation numbers are worth noting – looks like the Indians liked their chances of contending in 2009 (I did too, man that was an awful year) and they could play with the big boys a bit if they sold out (ducks out before the attendance fight starts up again).

  • JNeids

    1) like i said, i’ll take it if he pitches like that. i just think he can be stoic/methodical on the mound, and not make me want to call the suicide hotline when getting interviewed after.
    2) only ones that arent mine
    3) i never said i intentionally steal a ball from a kid, just asking for a little something for the effort. like a cold beer to ice my now broken hand

  • TNB

    Ok, so who are you to determine who was ‘tanking’ and who was just ‘bad’. Again, the end result is the same, so you cant say. You dont have any idea when the Rays decided to say ‘ok, what we’re doing isnt working, lets retool how we operate’, unless youre in their front office, in which case can I have tickets?

    There is something to be said for hitting high on the right pick, even if theyre a #1, 2, or 3 overall. There have been lots of top picks that didnt pan out and some that havent ever hit the majors (I was just reading about a yankees 1st round pick who had something like a 6m signing bonus and pitched a game in the majors [I think?]). Just because its a high pick doesnt mean its guaranteed, and a lot of these players now a days arent coming from the top picks. Baseball is a difficult sport to predict like that, so the entire developmental system needs to be exceptional, and teams like the Rays do that.

  • Steve

    If the Rays were secretly tanking, they hid that as well as possible. Just like I’ll give Jim Paxson credit if he says he made all of those terrible moves because he knew it would get him Lebron. But the evidence seems to show that both organizations were just bad at decision making. Like I said, if they were tanking for top draft picks, then I’ll admit they had a good strategy.

    There is something to be said – you didn’t royally screw up, which, bully for you, and can be a compliment in the sports world. But I have a hard time finding a bunch of praise for a team taking a player that everyone said you should take.

  • nj0

    Fair enough. Maybe fans prefer that to the opposite – Dolan put all that money in his own pockets and did not reinvest it into the team.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I agree on the NFL being the more exciting game to watch, hands down.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Sounds like you set yourself up for another “lets see what the Indians do at the trade deadline” letdown. I didn’t think or expect them to do much of anything. I still expect a journeyman reliever but I want to see reactions if all they do is trade Masterson for a minor league prospect.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Traded to Nationals.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Cabrera traded to Nationals

  • nj0

    Zach Walters, power hitting SS/utility guy….
    Interesting.

  • mgbode

    I have gone the no fantasy teams route this year and really enjoyed it. The one thing that surprised me is that I still am watching the random NBA and MLB games.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Not familiar with him saw his numbers initially looks like a power guy but how about this, Tigers getting David Price.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Look at the stadium clock…flames…is that to symbolize the season?

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bt5eTFnCcAAMOig.jpg

  • The_Real_Shamrock