Long Ball and Kluber K’s Send Tribe to Fourth Straight Win; Indians 6, Rays 3
Mike B. | On 09, May 2014
Hitting in the clutch is usually a key to winning baseball games. That wasn’t the case Friday evening.
Jake Odorizzi struck out 11 Indians in the first five innings, stranding baserunner after baserunner. Cleveland struck out eight times with runners in scoring position, but three home runs against the Tampa bullpen was enough for Corey Kluber to strike out nine of his own and send the Tribe to a 6-3 victory. The win now gives the Indians four triumphs in a row.
The Tribe had a golden opportunity to take an early lead on the Rays and Odorizzi in the third inning, but could not plate Michael Bourn after his leadoff triple. Bourn started the inning with a three-bagger to right, center field but Nick Swisher and Michael Brantley struck out and Carlos Santana popped out to shortstop to end the inning. Odorizzi was sharp, striking out seven Indians in the first three innings.
But in the bottom of the fourth inning, Tampa was able to do the little things to move a runner around the bases and score. David DeJesus started the frame with a double to right field off Kluber. Ben Zobrist grounded out to first base and advanced DeJesus to third base. He was able to hustle home when James Loney hit a sacrifice fly to left field and give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Cleveland had another chance to score in the top of the fifth inning when Nick Swisher hit a ground rule double with one out. However, Odorizzi struck out Brantley before walking Santana to put two on and two out, but David Murphy became the 11th strike out victim of the game. The Tribe stranded another would-be run without putting the ball in play.
Tampa again was able to execute after the Indians could not. Matt Joyce started the bottom of the fifth inning with a single. Kluber struck out Brandon Guyer before giving up a single to Logan Forsythe. With two on and just one out, it looked like the Indians could get out of the jam when Kluber struck out Ryan Hanigan, but DeJesus doubled for the second time in the game and the Rays made it 2-0.
Odorizzi’s night was done after just five innings. He allowed no runs while giving up five hits and two walks. His 11 strikeouts were the storyline, and likely the reason for his early exit. He tossed 101 pitches in just five innings. Brad Boxberger took over for Tampa in the sixth inning.
Asdrubal Cabrera welcomed Boxberger to the game with a solo home run to right field. Cabrera’s third homer of the season cut the Indians deficit to 2-1. After Yan Gomes got a base hit and Lonnie Chisenhall was hit-by-pitch, Mike Aviles bunted the two runners to scoring position. Tampa went to the bullpen for left-hander, Jake McGee. McGee struck out Bourn and got Swisher to line out to left field to end the inning and waste another scoring chance for Cleveland.
After starting the game 0-for-10 with eight strike outs with runners in scoring position, the Tribe bats came alive in the seventh inning. Joel Peralta (1-3) came on to pitch for Tampa and Brantley quickly tied the game with a solo home run. Brantley’s team-leading seventh home run was the first tally of the inning, but far from the last. Santana walked and after Murphy flied out, Cabrera singled to put a pair on and end Peralta’s night. Cabrera is now 9-for-10 in his last 10 at-bats.
Brandon Gomes came on to face Yan Gomes and it was Yan getting the better of the battle with a single to right field. Santana scored and the Indians took the lead 3-2. After a passed ball advanced Cabrera and Gomes to scoring position, Aviles hit a two-out, three-run home run, blowing the game open to a 6-2 lead for the Tribe.
Kluber allowed a single to Ryan Hanigan in the bottom of the seventh and left the game after getting two outs. Kluber (3-3) pitched six and two-third innings, allowing two runs on nine hits while striking out nine. Marc Rzepczynski finished the inning on the mound, although the final out was retired when Gomes threw out Hanigan trying to advance to second base.
Rzepczynski retired Ben Zobrist to start the eighth inning before giving way to Bryan Shaw, who finished the inning. John Axford pitched the ninth inning in a non-save situation, allowing a run on a pair of hits and two walks after retiring the first two hitters. Axford was removed for Cody Allen with the bases loaded and the winning run at the plate for Tampa. Allen got James Loney to fly out to right field for his first save of the season. It could soon be Allen’s new role as Axford continues to struggle.
The win is Cleveland’s fourth victory in a row. The Indians are now winners of six of their last eight games.
Saturday the Indians will look to take the second game in the three game series when Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.18) takes the mound. Tampa will counter with veteran, left-hander Erik Bedard (1-1, 4.35). The game will be broadcast nationally on FoxSports1 at 7 p.m.
Photo: Brian Blanco/Getty Images