Kluber and Kottaras Set Franchise Records in Tribe Loss; White Sox 4, Indians 3
Danny Madden | On 04, May 2014
Having depth is pretty nice. Having good luck is even better.
After an outstanding performance by Corey Kluber and two home runs from George Kottaras, John Axford gave up a three-run homer to Dayan Viciedo in the ninth inning, allowing the Chicago White Sox to steal the last game of the series, 4-3. With Yan Gomes on the paternity list following the birth of his first child, Kottaras was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to replace him. Also, with Michael Bourn being bothered by a hamstring injury following yesterday’s contest, Nyjer Morgan was also recalled with Nick Hagadone being optioned back to Columbus. These guys took advantage or their opportunities. Kottaras slammed two home runs in his first two at bats while Morgan went 2-for-4 with a double in the fourth inning, and these weren’t even the highlights of the afternoon.
Kluber set a franchise record by striking out seven consecutive batters. The last pitcher to accomplish such a feat was Bob Feller who had six consecutive strike outs back in 1938. The guy on the mound for the White Sox was Andre Rienzo who made his major league debut against the Indians last season.
The White Sox would score first thanks to Jose Abreu, who hit his league leading 12th home run of the season. Abreu now has five hits against Indians this season, four are home runs. The Indians would come back to threaten in the second with a walk from Asdrubal Cabrera and a single from David Murphy, who broke an 0-for-6 slump. Jose Ramirez flew out to center to end the threat.
In the top of the third inning is where Kluber began to make history. After giving up a single to Leury Garcia and then a sacrifice bunt to Alejandro De Aza, Kluber went on to strike out the next two batters. For the Tribe, Kottaras came up to the plate for his first at bat of the season. He took advantage of a poorly placed pitch and drove it out to the White Sox bullpen to make the score 1-1. Following the home run, Morgan tried to bunt his way on, but instead flipped the bat into his legs and ended up tumbling on the ground all the way to first. After having a good laugh at himself he jogged his way back to the dugout to get some pats on the back and laughs from manager Terry Francona.
The Indians then went on to get a two-out hit from Michael Brantley and a walk from Carlos Santana to put two runners on for Lonnie Chisenhall. Taking advantage of the playing time that he has had, Chisenhall came into today’s game batting .360 and only one run batted in. He then was able to gain his second RBI after a bloop single to left field to drive in Brantley and bring the score 2-1 Indians.
Kluber then came back in the fourth to strike out the side after facing Adam Dunn, Viciedo, and the hot hitting Alexei Ramirez. In the bottom of the fourth, with two outs, Kottaras came up to the plate and hit his second home run of the day. This is the first time that an Indians player has hit two home runs in his first two at-bats of his Indian career and brought the score to 3-1, Cleveland. Rienzo would not make it out of the fifth inning and was replaced by former Indian pitcher Zach Putnam.
Having five consecutive strike outs coming into the fifth, Kluber got two more to make it seven consecutive strike outs and nine for him in the game. His streak would get busted after giving up a two out walk to Garcia. He then struck out De Aza for the second time today giving him ten strike outs in five innings.
The Indians were able to get a single from Chisenhall and a walk from Murphy, but came up empty in the fifth. Kluber continued to mow down the White Sox hitters by inducing two ground outs and getting strike out number 11 in the sixth. The Indians went 1-2-3 for the first time in the game in the sixth.
In the seventh inning, Kluber gave up a leadoff single to Viciedo, but was able to erase the runner after getting a double play and then he struck out Jordan Danks to get his twelfth strike out. His previous career high in strike outs was eleven, achieved in his last home start on April 24.
Coming into the eighth inning, Kluber was at 102 pitches and he was still out to pitch one more inning. During the inning, he induced two more ground outs and his thirteenth strikeout. Kluber was absolutely electric and now has two back-to-back starts of striking out eleven or more batters. The Indians again threaten in the eighth with Daniel Webb (2-0) pitching after he gave up a walk to Kottaras and a single from Morgan, but a ground out from Nick Swisher went on to end the inning. Swisher has been struggling all season long, but has especially been struggling with runners in scoring position as he’s batting .189 (10-53).
With the score standing at 3-1 Indians, American league saves leader John Axford (0-2) was summoned from the bullpen. To lead off the ninth, Axford walked Gordon Beckham and Dunn, but struck out Abreu. With Viciedo at the plate and two men on, he served up a three-run, home run to make the score 4-3 White Sox. Axford wouldn’t make it out of the ninth as lefty Marc Rzepczynski came in to replace him for the last out.
In 2013, the Indians were great at getting walk off wins, most notably against the White Sox. With Brantley, Santana, and Chisenhall due up in the inning, the possibility of a walk off looked pretty good. Brantley and Santana bounced out to second, and Chisenhall was able to get a single up the middle with two outs. It was all for naught though as Cabrera struck out to end the game.
The Indians again had a low amount of offense as two of the three runs came from Kottaras. They had their chances to score more, but didn’t take advantage of the opportunities.
On a positive note, the Indians did not have any errors for the first time in five games. Axford’s struggles continue against Chicago, however. After having a solid outing in yesterday’s game, he couldn’t close out the series just like when the Indians faced the White Sox in Chicago and gave up a walk-off home run to Alexei Ramirez. Kluber was stuck with a no decision, a very unfortunate result after such a stellar outing.
The Indians will hope to regain momentum tomorrow with Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.82) on the mound facing Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson (3-2, 4.34). The game is slated to start at 7:05 p.m. at Progressive Field.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images