August 2, 2014

Columbus no-hitter and Kevin Love almost cried? … While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

Who threw a no-hitter?! While Corey Kluber was dealing in Cleveland last night, a Columbus Clippers starter broke history. Tyler Cloyd, a 27-year-old claimed off waivers last October from Philadelphia, threw the first no-hitter in Huntington Park history. Cloyd struck out six and his lone blemish was a hit-by-pitch in the ninth inning. He is now 9-5 with a 3.91 ERA in 22 games this season. [Read more...]

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

Corey Kluber

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.” [Read more...]

Infographic: Corey Kluber vs. Felix Hernandez

Untitled2

Corey Kluber (10-6) squares off against Felix Hernandez (11-2) in what should be a battle of the two of the best pitchers in the American League thus far. Only John Lester (BOS) and Fernandez have a higher fWAR than Kluber on the season.

During his last 13 starts, Hernandez has a 1.36 ERA, 10.3 K/9, 1.5 BB/9 and .170/.209/.232 slash line. In Corey Kluber’s last 7 starts (since June 20), he’s compiled a 1.71 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and .207/.240/.335 slash line. On the season, Indians starters other then Corey Kluber: 84 games, 19-34 record, 5.01 ERA, 5.5 innings per start, 2.53 K/BB, .282/.345/.450 line.

Something has to give. I’d take the under.

LeBron’s mind and Kluber’s cutter: While We’re Waiting…

WFNYBanner www

Browns camp is under way, LeBron chose his jersey number and the Indians finally won a game. Happy Monday, kids. Let’s dig in.

LeBron James has always had a way to recall certain instances of his on-court life. Having covered him during his final year in Cleveland back in 2010, I was always intrigued by the way he would seemingly flash back to certain second-long frames in his mind—certain plays, specific floor placement, time, date, location, you name it. If you haven’t read Brian Windhorst’s extremely well-reported piece on this very characteristic of the four-time MVP, do so—now. (I had considered using this in this week’s #ActualSportswriting, but it’s too good, and too pertinent to just quote.) While cynics may attempt to poke holes in the video game anecdote, the details that James can recall years after they occur are astounding. James already came pre-packaged with an insane physique, possessing an adult’s body as a teenager. The fact that his basketball IQ is through the roof as well—well, it’s almost unfair. The story about the game-winners in Golden State? Incredible.

***

If you haven’t been following along, Grantland has been rolling out some high-quality work on MLB’s best pitchers. It was only a matter of time before Corey Kluber received the “PitchCraft” treatment, getting his due just hours after dominating the Kansas City Royals late last week. I mean, we know Kluber has been downright filthy this season, but just how filthy? His most thrown pitch, his sinker, isn’t even his best pitch. Kluber’s cutter is currently the fourth-best in all of baseball, providing almost a foot difference in movement when compared to his fastball. His slider? Well, that’s held opponents to a .079 batting average this season thanks to nearly 11 inches of horizontal break—an MLB best. Only the Padres’ Tyson Ross has more strikeouts with his slider (84 to Kluber’s 72), and he’s thrown the pitch twice as often.

The Grantland piece also reiterated what we said earlier, Kluber has been this effective despite having a higher BABiP than many of the other pitchers ranked in the top 10 in WAR. Kluber, following his outing against KC, was third in wins above replacement, having been worth 4.3 additional Ws.

***

Hey, did you guys hear about that one really good take? Yeah, me neither. Here’s this week’s edition of #ActualSportswriting:

An Idiot in Exile” by Pat Jordan (Sports on Earth): “Johnny Damon was a major league baseball player for 18 years. He won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2004 and another one with the Yankees in 2009, which is why he once said, “Being a baseball player is so great.” He said the game “was fun,” and winning championships was even more “fun.” He learned how to have “fun” with the A’s and then taught his teammates with the Red Sox and Yankees how to have “fun.” His concept of “fun” was mostly that of a young boy. … He dropped water balloons from the upper floor of hotels on passing pedestrians below. He and his teammates held down other teammates and poured ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard all over their clean uniforms, which he thought was hilarious. In the clubhouse he performed pull-ups naked, his penis dangling in his teammates’ faces. He liked to “party” after games with his teammates, drink booze, smoke pot. He collected women as if they too were toys. Some might say that his sense of “adult fun” was a lot like his sense of childlike fun.”

The Passion of Roger Angell” by Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated): “Writing well is hard. It requires constant thinking. The gears, flywheels and levers of the mind click and clatter nonstop. Writing is flying an airplane without instruments, almost always through the dark storms of doubt. It is new every time. There’s an added difficulty with writing about baseball: The writer ages but the players do not. They are perpetually young, replaced almost imperceptibly by younger versions of themselves. Every season is like a summer-stock version of Bye Bye Birdie. Then one day a ballplayer with $100 million banked calls you “sir,” and you realize the chasm has grown Olduvai Gorge–wide.

Playground Basketball is Dying” by Myron Medcalf and Dana O’Neil (ESPN): “If there is a holy ground of playground hoops, it is the space here near 155th Street, just off the Harlem River Drive. The Harlem Garden, old-timers used to call it, and it is hardly hyperbole. If Madison Square Garden is billed as the world’s most famous basketball arena, this is its outdoor cousin. This is where Julius Erving shucked the nickname given to him by a Rucker announcer — The Claw — and argued to be called The Doctor. This is where Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury, fresh off being selected as the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, respectively, in the 1996 draft, partnered for a dream backcourt; this is where Rafer “Skip to my Lou” Alston went from local legend to NBA player; and this is where Kareem, Dominique, Wilt, LeBron, KD, Kobe and so many other first-name-only star players have dropped in for at least one game in their respective careers.”

Mean Girl” by Kelefa Sanneh (New Yorker): “In M.M.A., more than in most sports, athletes must be promoters, too. Rousey is smart enough to know that one of her promotional assets is the way she looks—she has appeared on the cover of not only ESPN the Magazine but alsoMaxim, which called her “Badass & Blonde,” and photographed her in a garment that seemed highly unsuitable for combat. Of course, this asset can be a liability, too, especially for a female fighter seeking the same respect given her male counterparts.”

***

Calling my shot now: That Tom Verducci profile of Roger Angell will be discussed in nearly every year-end “Best of” piece when it comes to sportswriting. It’s the pen-and-paper, modern day equivalent of Mozart covering Beethoven. Verducci is easily one of the best sports writers working today; Angell is a legend, currently 93 years of age and still plugging along. He’s not in the BBWAA—which is simply fantastic given how antiquated and unnecessary the BBWAA is—and is the first to ever win the Hall of Fame’s award for baseball writing to have not been a member. Independent writers (or “bloggers”) could learn a lot from Angell who almost always wrote as a fan. Good news is, The New Yorker unlocked their entire archives for the rest of the summer, so you can catch up on any of his pieces that you may have missed. I recommend starting here. Then go here.

***

You all obviously listen to the great work that Craig does with the WFNY podcasts. But as radio continues to loose steam, pandering and forcing senseless debate, I continue to listen to more and more podcasts by national types. Playing off of the success of Bill Simmons’ BS Report, ESPN has rolled out podcasts for Grantland’s Zach Lowe and ESPN.com’s Jason Whitlock. A few that I recommend: Lowe and Lee Jenkins, talking Cavs; Whitlock and Scott Raab, talking Cavs and Cleveland; and Whitlock and ESPN’s rock star reporter Ramona Shelburne, who spoke candidly about reporting and women in sports.

***

And just because:

Royals 2, Indians 1: Kluber near perfect, yet nothing to show for it

Photo1

Games like Thursday night are why I love baseball and I why baseball frustrates the heck out of me at the exact same time. I mean what other game can one player completely shut down an entire team for the duration of regulation, only to be on the hook for a loss because of one of the worst and strangest defensive plays you will ever see? The highs were so high last night, and the lows were excruciatingly low—Cleveland-esque, dare I say.

It ended after 12:30 eastern time and went 14 innings. Starters Corey Kluber and Danny Duffy were long gone by then. I tweeted the following in the fourth inning: [Read more...]

Animated: Watch Corey Kluber dominate the Royals

This is becoming old hat by this point, but Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber turned in yet another masterful performance on Thursday night, carrying a perfect game through six and one-third innings, earning himself a no-decision. Per Elias, it was the deepest into a game that any Cleveland starting pitcher had gone without allowing a base-runner since Len Barker pitched his perfect game for the Indians against Toronto on May 15, 1981.

Kluber1 140724

All of Kluber’s pitches were working on Thursday, but he had the most success with his off-speed and breaking balls. Royals “hitters” were 0-for-16 in at-bats ending with his breaking balls, including eight of his 10 strikeouts.

Kluber2 1400724

Kluber3 140724

Kluber, who somehow missed out on being an All-Star, went nine innings, allowing no earned runs, striking out 10 and walking none, making him just the fourth pitcher in the last 20 seasons to reach all of those marks in a no-decision.

Kluber4 140724

Kluber5 140724

Coming in to the season as the team’s second starter (behind Justin Masterson), Kluber now ranks third in all of baseball (among pitchers) with a WAR of 4.3—only Felix Hernandez and John Lester have provided more wins through the duration of the entire season—doing so with a marriage of location and deception. He’s thrown his fastball just 52.8 percent of the time through 2014.

Kluber6 140724

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Kluber is the only pitcher this season with a double-digit strikeout game against the Royals, who entered the day with a 15.6 strikeout rate—by far the lowest in the major leagues. Oh, about that fastball…

Kluber7 140724

Kluber8 140724

He’s second in the game when it comes to FIP, among pitchers with at least 120 innings, carrying a mark of 2.59 . He’s fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.76). Of the pitchers in the top five in FIP, Kluber has been the unluckiest, boasting an BABiP of .316. Felix Hernandez has a BABiP of .267.

Kluber9 140724

Kluber10 140724

Corey Kluber is a badass. Pop that collar, brother.

Indians dropped by Twins fill-in starter Anthony Swarzak

This trippy combo picture froze on my screen as I was looking at pics from yesterday’s game.

(I apologize for the lateness of this recap. I’m filling in for TD today.)

I had to look up Anthony Swarzak’s name three times. Apparently Carlos Santana did too, according to Alex Smith of MLB.com. His game story says that Carlos Santana had no idea who was pitching yesterday 90 minutes before it was scheduled to start. The Indians never seemed to get to know him yesterday either. In five innings, the usual reliever Swarzak only gave up two hits while allowing one run via a Jose Ramirez double that scored David Murphy. The Indians mustered only three more hits across five relievers to fall 3-1 in a daytime game. [Read more...]

Second-half Storylines: What are you watching?

Nick Swisher

The Cleveland Indians started things off with a relative bang, taking three of four in Detroit. As we close in on the month of August, the Tribe stands 4.5 games behind the Tigers and will need to piece it all together heading into the fall if postseason play is to happen for the second consecutive year. There are copious amounts of storylines to look at for the second half of the season, but which ones are we watching? Take a walk with us as we plan for the next 10 weeks of baseball.

[Read more...]

Tribe weekend recap: Kipnis…back? King Kluber, The Carrasco effect, and rotation rotation

Jason Kipnis

If your Cleveland Indians were going to get back in the thick of the AL Central and Wild Card races, coming out of the blocks strongly is of the utmost importance. An 11-game, three-city road trip against three divisional foes was on the schedule. Things got started in Detroit with four games in three days. I wouldn’t say this was a make-or-break weekend for the Tribe, but how they played would go a long way into deciding whether the front office would be buyers/holders, or sellers with the trade deadline looking at the end of the month.

Getting swept by the first-place Tigers would be a killer, but a series win could put the Tribe back on the map. We all know their faults, but we also know that when they do put it all together, they are tough to beat. Friday and Saturday, the Tribe looked like a team that has to be taken seriously. The Wahoo Express steamrolled through Detroit, taking three of four to move to within five and a half of the Tigers and two of the second Wild Card spot. They looked primed for a strong second half push.

The train is coming, people. This weekend in Detroit was a great start. So what did we see?

[Read more...]

The Indians at the break: The Good

Tribe celebration47-47. .500. The middle. Average. Not great, but not bad. This is what our Cleveland Indians are as we sit here at the All-Star break.

Heading into the season, Terry Francona’s group had to deal with something that was not on the docket a year before; heightened expectations. Coming off of a 92-win, Wild Card season and bringing back essentially the same core group, the Tribe now wore a bulls-eye. They were not going to sneak up on anyone. And they haven’t.

Many expected the front office to build on the playoff experience and add some more veteran talent via the free agent market, but with big raises due to likes of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, and Asdrubal Cabrera, the financial wiggle room just wasn’t there. Instead, they tinkered, adding outfielder David Murphy to platoon in right field with Ryan Raburn. Twice deposed closer John Axford was brought on with hopes of a resurrection at the back end of the pen. Big years were expected from that core group of young position players moving towards their prime years. Starters Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir walked into free agency and found greener pastures in Baltimore and Oakland respectively. The Indians counted on youngsters Danny Salazar and either Carlos Carrasco or Josh Tomlin would replace them.

The first half has brought moments of greatness and despair, moments of disappointment and exuberance. Certain guys have broken out, while others have taken huge steps backwards. We’ve seen regression to the mean from a few Indians as well. Hall of Fame Football coach Bill Parcells famously said “you are what you record says you are,” and the Indians are 47-47. All of this has added up to what they are; an average baseball team. [Read more...]

Kluber trailing in All-Star Game Balloting with one day remaining

Corey Kluber is among the five finalists to be added to the AL All-Star roster via fan vote, but so far things aren’t looking great, despite Terry Francona’s best efforts.

Here’s the national vote:

AL All Star Voting

Kluber has garnered 11.3% of the vote nationally, which only proves that people haven’t read enough about DIPS, FIP, and the wonders BABiP.

Ohio looks to be well-represented among the Klubots, but the national battle appears to be coming down to Chicago’s Chris Sale and Detroit’s Rick Porcello.

To vote now, visit MLB.com. Also, here’s some inspiration before you go-go. Let’s make this happen:

Hall_Oates

 

 

NBA Musical Chairs, ClevelandRox, and Losing My Voice, While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

Happy Tuesday WFNY! I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. Now it’s time to get back to business.

It’s July 8, 2014…exactly four years after the original Decision. I don’t expect the 2014 Decision to happen today, but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on what it was like around this time in 2010. There were so many emotions involved in those final days of the 2010 free agency process. It’s interesting to look back at the roller coaster I went on back then. On July 7, when we found out about Wade and Bosh going to Miami, I wrote this. I still was feeling confident. I just couldn’t believe he would join Wade and Bosh in Miami.

On the morning of July 8, we woke up to the horrible reality that LeBron was going to Miami. But even then, I still wanted to hold on to hope. Even in the face of overwhelming reports of LeBron going to Miami being a virtual certainty, I just couldn’t allow myself to give up. Then, after the aftermath of The Decision, I wrote on July 9 that loyalty in sports was dead.

It’s a little tough to go back and re-read the things I thought on those days. It’s funny to see how much my perspective on sports has changed in the four years since. Of course, a lot of that is probably a direct result of everything that happened on the night of the Decision. Just remembering how raw the emotions of that night were, it makes it seem even crazier to me that there seems to be a chance LeBron could return. I have no clue what’s going to happen in these next few days. I honestly feel like all of these recent reports and optimism have all come from external sources. By all accounts, LeBron has shut himself off from everyone. I remain pretty skeptical that he’s going to come back to Cleveland. But if nothing else, this week has been fun. Unlike last time, the Cavaliers have nothing to lose. And that has been a very fulfilling point to keep in mind.

*****

The NBA’s game of Musical Chairs

If nothing else, the NBA’s free agent market this offseason is starting to feel like a fun little game of Musical Chairs. Or maybe “Duck, Duck, Goose” is the better game. With so many rumors swirling, you wonder which free agents and which teams are going to be safe inside the circle, and who might potentially be left out.

As of Sunday, the Knicks were pretty confident that Carmelo Anthony would be returning. They were reported to be expecting Carmelo to announce his return on Monday. However, on Monday afternoon the Rockets reportedly offered Chris Bosh a max contract. This is where things get interesting. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was on Mike & Mike in the Morning on Monday morning, and he said that LeBron has cut off communication to pretty much everyone, including people with the Heat. He said there have been a few texts between the Big 3, but beyond that, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are just as in the dark as everyone else regarding what LeBron is going to do.

With the uncertainty of LeBron’s future, Chris Bosh is now said to be at least considering taking the Houston deal, even though his preference remains to return to Miami with LeBron. But now Carmelo has held off on announcing anything. Some speculate it’s because he remains torn between the Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks, but others have suggested that perhaps Carmelo is now waiting to see if Bosh takes the Houston deal. If he does, then Carmelo could see if he could sign with the Heat and bring LeBron back.

Of course, knowing this, Bosh seems likely to wait and see what LeBron does first before deciding what he’s going to do. But what if in the meantime Carmelo goes back to Houston and, seeing how much they offered Bosh, says he’ll take that deal? In that way, Carmelo could actually put pressure on Bosh to act first or risk losing out on the Houston deal and possibly seeing LeBron sign somewhere other than Miami.

Phew. Did you get all that?

I’ve said from the beginning and I continue to maintain that I think these rumors have gotten out of hand and that the odds of LeBron returning to Cleveland are being blown way out of proportion. In reading the tea leaves, it just seems like the source of all this speculation comes from external sources on the periphery of LeBron’s inner circle. In other words, some of the Akron/Cleveland people who want LeBron to return are using the media to put pressure on LeBron to do just that. By all accounts, LeBron has gone completely ghost. So I just don’t trust all these reports. Windhorst said there’s only three people he believes when it comes to info about LeBron’s future: one is LeBron and the other two are unnamed sources presumably in his extreme inner circle. Windhorst said he hasn’t heard anything about LeBron returning from any of those three.

I fully admit there seems to be something weird going on. I think when Bosh and Wade opted out, they fully believed that they were working with LeBron. But there have been reports that Wade and Bosh are a little confused by LeBron’s silence and isolation. There are reports that Miami is starting to feel a little uneasy and unsure. But at the end of the day, Pat Riley is going to get his face to face with LeBron, and I have a feeling Riley will get the job done and secure LeBron’s return. I think LeBron will have a hard time saying no to Riley and perhaps to a greater extent, a hard time saying no to Dwyane Wade after Wade opted out of $42 million just to facilitate keeping the Big 3 together. From there, Bosh and Wade will return, as will Ray Allen most likely. That gives them a core of LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Allen, Norris Cole, Josh McRoberts, Danny Granger, and Shabazz Napier. Udonis Haslam would probably return as well.

That’s not the greatest team to project going forward, and the Heat will always have trouble finding cap space to sign free agents. But it’s good enough to walk through the pathetic Eastern Conference the next couple years, and from there, the Heat would be playing for a Championship every year. There are plenty of good reasons for LeBron to return to Cleveland, but Dan Gilbert continues to be one gigantic reason for LeBron not to. And you better believe Pat Riley will spend a good portion of his meeting with LeBron making that exact point, while illustrating the obvious differences between himself and Dan Gilbert. I want LeBron to return to Cleveland, but as long as Gilbert owns the team, I just don’t see it happening.

*****

Guess who’s back?!

One of the most beloved Cavaliers of all time is finally back in the NBA…sort of. Delonte West has seen his shares of ups and downs. Recently Slate.com ran this amazing feature on Delonte, asking the question ‘Why isn’t Delonte West in the NBA?’. Well, it appears Delonte is being given a chance:

Now, obviously, being on a Summer League roster isn’t the same thing as being on an NBA roster, but it’s a start. And this is the beautiful thing about the Summer League. In addition to rookies and undrafted free agents trying to make their way into the league, the Summer League also offers a chance at redemption for players who have somehow found themselves adrift from the league.

I think I speak for almost all Cavs fans when I say I wish Delonte the absolute best of luck and I truly hope that this can lead to a future back in the league for Delonte.

*****

#ClevelandRox!

I think this is one of the more interesting PR campaigns I’ve seen in quite some time. For anyone who may have missed it, the Indians and Rockies are teaming up to ask their fans to vote for Corey Kluber and Justin Morneau for the final All-Star spots in the AL and NL, respectively. The campaign is using the hashtag #ClevelandRox.

The Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies have teamed up to get Tribe starter Corey Kluber and Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau into the All-Star Game through the All-Star Game Final Vote.Fans can vote online at Indians.com or MLB.com/vote through Thursday, July 10 at 4PM ET. Votes on Twitter will count on Thursday from 10AM-4PM; fans are encouraged to use #VoteKluber, #VoteMorneau and #ClevelandRox.

I don’t know if it will be effective or not, but it’s just fun to see these two small market teams combining efforts to try to get their guys voted in.

*****

Album of the Week

Finally, we have our new music release of the week. Now, I know this is going to look like favoritism, but my vote for new album of the week goes to WFNY’s own Craig Lyndall, whose new album “Losing My Voice” is out today under his band’s name, The Company Line.

Yes, Craig is a good friend of mine so I’m hardly objective here, but in case you guys haven’t figured out by now, I take music discussions seriously. I wouldn’t recommend this album if I didn’t think it was up to par. To begin with, you need to read Craig’s backstory on how and why this album came to be:

During that consultation the surgeon casually mentioned that part of the surgery would temporarily relocate a nerve connected to my vocal cord and that one of the risks of surgery was that I could lose my voice.As a singer and songwriter, this was terrifying to me. I am not prolific as a songwriter, but I always go back to it when I have something I really want to say. It was eating me alive that I had unrecorded songs that could be lost forever so I decided to do something about it. A week before surgery, I recorded these six songs to document that moment in time when I thought I might lose the ability to ever sing again.

And that’s my favorite thing about this album. I absolutely love music that carries a purpose, and Craig delivers on allowing that sense of urgency to carry through. There’s a great dichotomy between the fragility of the future of his vocals and the way he pushes his vocals to the limit on some of these songs.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success and Craig’s worst fears weren’t realized. But there’s still a very real and raw power in this songs. Despite his simple setup of just an acoustic guitar and his voice, you can hear his resolve in his delivery and the lyrics themselves.

I hope you guys at least read the backstory and then listen to some of the songs. I hope some of you will enjoy it, and if you guys want to learn or hear more, you can check out the following links:

Backstory | iTunes | Amazon MP3 | Spotify

*****

Anyway, that’s it from me this week. Between the Cavs Summer League games starting on Friday and the free agent market coming close to reaching it’s resolution, I have a feeling we’ll have some more good stuff to talk about next week!

Dr. Smooth: All Star; #VoteKluber, and gauging the trade values of Masterson and Cabrera

Corey KluberThese are interesting times for our Wahoos. While most of you were on LeBron and Dan Gilbert Plane Watch or worrying about Johnny Manziel’s July 4th in Las Vegas, your local nine was taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Big crowds came out Friday and Saturday as the Tribe split the first two. They recovered nicely to take Sunday’s rubber match 4-1.

The team is kind of in limbo right now. Where are they? Who are they? Is this a contender or a team that should start selling off veteran pieces? 2013 proved you shouldn’t count a Terry Francona managed team out, but the defensive issues and the sluggish bats make you think this isn’t “the year.”

Nevertheless, there is a lot of baseball to be played and the Indians just won a big series against a team they are chasing in Kansas City. There was plenty more going on not just on the field, but off of it as well this weekend. So as we do every Monday morning, let us dive into the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Indians hitters make history with back-to-back one hit games

Cabrera

It wasn’t Kluber’s fault.

Corey Kluber entered the game with a streak of 10 straight scoreless innings. He was superb again, allowing just one run on six hits in six and two-thirds innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Kluber ran into a jam in the fourth. With one out, Adrian Gonzalez beat the infield shift with a grounder down the third base line. Chisenhall made a nice play to get to the ball keeping Gonzalez to a single. After a Matt Kemp double, Kluber struck out Andre Ethier and induced a harmless fly ball to Bourn in center. He escaped a man on second and third with one out situation.

Leading off the bottom of the seventh inning, Andre Ethier hit a ball to deep left center that Michael Brantley was able to get to at the wall, but couldn’t come up with the catch. He had to flip the ball to Michael Bourn after falling down hitting the wall. Ethier was able to get all the way around to third on the play. Cabrera looked Ethier back to third and threw out Juan Uribe on a grounder up the middle. Kluber then froze Ellis on a 3-2 breaking ball right on the outside edge of the plate. After an intentional walk to Hanley Ramirez, Clint Robinson pinch-hit for Haren and singled up the middle (for his first ML hit). It snapped Kluber’s string of scoreless innings at 16. It came on a 3-2 count to boot. Kluber was a strike away from pitching around a lead-off triple and keeping the game scoreless. Instead, the Dodgers scraped out a run and took an insurmountable 1-0 lead.

One hit. [Read more...]

Indians 6, Diamondbacks 1: Kluber shuts down snakes

Corey KluberThe worst bit going in Tribe circles heading into last night was the “what’s wrong with Corey Kluber” question. The answer: absolutely nothing. So he hadn’t won a game in the month of June. So what? By now you should all know how meaningless the win statistic is. Sure, Kluber was absolutely dominant in May, when his team won five of his six starts (2.09 ERA, 60 K’s in 43 IP) and in the Tribe’s only loss, he gave eight innings of one run ball. But it’s not like his June was, say, Masterson-2014-esque.

“I don’t think there’s been much of a difference in the way I’ve pitched [from month to month],” said Kluber. “It’s been a pitch here or there, but it’s about being consistent.”

Kluber had two off starts to start the month, but followed that with back to back two run outings which included a seven inning, six K, one walk performance against the Tigers where he got by solely on guts. Last night in Phoenix, the dominant one returned.

[Read more...]

Royals 9, Indians 5: Poor defense returns as Tribe drops opener in KC

Corey KluberDuring the Cleveland Indians’ previous 10 games—where they won nine of them—one usual complaint when quiet: The poor defense. They floundered to start the season, while averaging an error per game and leading the American League in unearned runs. But in the midst of the recent hot streak, the defense tightened up. It reminded me of a football offensive line. You only really hear about them when they aren’t doing their jobs.

Last night in Kansas City, the iron gloves returned in what would be a 9-5 loss.

Tribe ace Corey Kluber was on the mound and even he could not stem the tide for the ill-timed defensive mistakes. With two on and one out in the third, Jarrod Dyson sent a sharp ground ball right at second baseman Jason Kipnis. It was a tailor-made double play ball even with the speedy Dyson running. Kipnis fired a strike to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera who flat out dropped the ball. Not in the transfer—he just dropped it. It was Cabrera’s 11th error on the season.

Asdrubal’s drop caused the flood gates to open. The Indians should have been out of the inning, instead, the bases were loaded. Kluber still had a chance to wiggle out of it and looked like he might. Omar Infante blooped a single to center putting the Royals on top 1-0. He was followed by Eric Hosmer, who sent a one hopper to Carlos Santana at first. If he fields it cleanly, he can start a 3-6-1 double play with ease, or fire home for the second out. Instead, Santana bobbled the ball before recovering and stepping on first for the second out. You can never assume the double play, but this was the another that should have been turned to end the inning. Billy Butler’s two-out single to right scored two more runs and the Royals had a 4-0 lead. [Read more...]

Indians 7, Red Sox 4: Breaking out the brooms at 2 AM

Asdrubal Cabrera

$1 hot dogs. Michael Bourn Bobbleheads. Johnny Freaking Manziel (and Justin Gilbert too!). Two hour and 28 minute rain delay. Bunting. Strikeouts. Leads. Preening Papi. Comebacks. Replays. Carlos Freaking Carrasco. More bunting. Edward Freaking Mujica. Walk off homer at 2:02 AM.

What did I miss? The details, my friends….the details.

How about your Cleveland Indians, ladies and gentlemen? Left for dead by so many after being swept by the Oakland A’s to the tune of 30-7 two and a half weeks ago, the Tribe has managed to not just gain their mojo back, but a whopping seven games in the standings. After last night’s 7-4, 12-inning win to sweep the Boston Red Sox, the Indians have raced back to within three and a half games of the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers, who are suddenly reeling, losing four straight and seven of 10. [Read more...]

Indians come through at home with sweep of Rockies

Bourn walk off

When Michael Bourn drilled a letter-high fastball over the fence in right center, the Indians completed another three game sweep with a home plate celebration. It was the fourth walk-off win for the Indians this season, and Bourn’s first ever walk-off home run.

After getting swept by the White Sox in Chicago, the Indians returned home with the worst road record in the American League at 9-19. Only Miami (8-17) has a slightly worse road winning percentage in all of baseball.

When Miachael Bourn’s ball landed in the seats, the Tribe had an 18-11 home record, which is tops in the American League.

The Rockies came to Cleveland scuffling a bit, losing five of their last seven but were still three games over .500. Their line-up has been outstanding, but the Tribe pitchers had them guessing and whiffing all series long.

In fact, the Indians struck out 38 Colorado batters during the three game series. That’s a big number. The big hitter in that Colorado line-up is Troy Tulowitzki. He has 14 home runs and a .350 average to lead the National League. Indians’ pitchers fanned him 5 times and allowed just a single against the Rockies’ top slugger. [Read more...]

Corey Kluber joins exclusive company in win over Rockies

Photo

As you may have heard, the Cleveland Indians beat the Colorado Rockies, 5-2, behind another stone cold start from right-hander Corey Kluber.  Kluber pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs—both on a mistake to Carlos Gonzalez’s in the fourth—on just five hits. He struck out 12 Rockies batters while walking only one.

To put Kluber’s start and month of May in perspective:

  • He struck out 60 batters in May, going  4-0. Since 2005, only one other pitcher has had 60 strikeouts in a month—All-Star and perennial Cy Young contender, Texas’ Yu Darvish, who did so last August.
  • Per Elias, Kluber became just the fifth Cleveland pitcher since 1914 to have 60 strikeouts in any month, joining Bob Feller (8 times), Sam McDowell (8 times), Dennis Eckersley (once) and Herb Score (once). Not bad company.
  • Kluber’s 60 strikeouts in May are the most by an MLB pitcher in May since Curt Schilling had 62 in May of 2002. That year, Schilling was second in NL Cy Young voting, losing out to teammate Randy Johnson.

Kluber’s start snapped a four-game losing streak for the Tribe. In eight starts since April 19, Kluber has gone 5-1 with 76 strikeouts and just 12 walks—four of which came in the lone loss.

(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

‘Bauer Outage’ could spark subpar Tribe starters

bauer acab

Trevor Bauer finally looks like he’s getting his pro career on track and living up to the expectations that come with being the No. 3 overall draft pick. Ranked as the ninth best prospect by Baseball America after the 2011 season, Bauer sank to 83rd after a disappointing 2013 campaign in which the re-tooling of his windup made many scratch their heads over the acquisition of the former UCLA phenom from the Arizona Diamondbacks two winters earlier.

[Read more...]