Kluber’s 14 Whiffs Tosses Tribe into Final Week Race; Indians 7, Twins 2
Mike B. | On 21, Sep 2014
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? Yes! After falling behind 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning on a Chad Herrmann RBI-double, Corey Kluber settled down to carve up the Minnesota Twins, giving the Indians a 7-2 victory. Kluber’s amazing season continues to climb its way into the Indians’ record books.
The Indians benefitted from Minnesota’s defensive miscues and a balk for a three-run inning in the fifth to take control of the game. After relinquishing a run in the bottom of the fifth, Cleveland put the contest to bed with two more in the top of the sixth inning.
The Tribe pounded out 14 hits on the afternoon, including eight from the top three hitters in the order. Cleveland now enters the final week of the season still with a chance to make an amazing run into the postseason.
WP: Kluber (17-9) LP: Swarzak (3-2)
Key Inning: Top of the fifth inning. Leading 2-1, Cleveland took advantage of what Minnesota gave them. With one out, Michael Bourn reached on a bunt single and Jose Ramirez singled to center field off Twins’ starter Anthony Swarzak. With two on and only one out, Michael Brantley hit a ground ball to Brian Dozier at second base. Dozier tried to start a double play, but instead threw the ball wide to Danny Santana. Santana made matters worse, by chucking his throw to first out of play. The two errant throws allowed Bourn to score and Ramirez to advance to third and Brantley to second base. After Carlos Santana was intentionally walked to set up a force play, Swarzak balked, allowing Ramirez to score and ending the force play. After Swarzak intentionally walked David Murphy to re-load the bases, he was relieved with the Indians up 4-1.
Ryan Pressly came on to face Yan Gomes who lofted a sacrifice fly to left field, which allowed Brantley to score and give the Indians a 5-1 lead at the midpoint of the game. It was a lead the Indians would not relinquish with Kluber on the mound.
Player of the Game: Kluber put together another amazing start. He struck out two Twins in each of the first six innings. That, combined with the seven innings of two strikeouts in an inning, built a 13-inning streak where Kluber struck out two hitters in an inning. The feat is a Major League record.
Kluber gave the Indians eight strong innings on 120 pitches, allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out 14. His back-to-back 14-strikeout games are the first since 2004 when Randy Johnson did it and only the second in Indians history. Sam McDowell did it twice in 1968. He now has 258 strikeouts on the season, good for most in the American League, currently ahead of David Price’s 255. His 17 wins is the most since Cliff Lee won 22 for the Indians in 2008.
They Said It: “Magnificent. A horse as always. He went eight innings and 120 pitches. That’s what you want from your ace.” Bourn to STO’s Katie Witham on Kluber’s performance.
Standings: The Indians trail Kansas City by 3.5 games for the final Wild Card spot. The Royals won 5-2 Sunday to salvage the final game of their three game series with Detroit. Seattle is 1.5 games behind the Royals for the final spot after losing to Houston, 7-3. The Indians are 81-74 on the season and with four games against the Royals this week, still have a chance at the playoffs.
Etc.: The Indians had eight hits from Bourn, Ramirez and Brantley in the top third of the batting order. It’s amazing how the Tribe offense is so much more productive when Bourn is getting on base and starting the offense in front of Ramirez and Brantley. It gives Indians manager Terry Francona the ability to try and manufacture runs before getting to Brantley and Santana in the middle of the order.
Overshadowed by Kluber’s performance on Sunday was Brantley’s outstanding series. Brantley had seven hits in the series, including three in today’s game, giving him 193. With seven games remaining, Brantley has a chance at 200 hits.
Analysis: Some how, some way, the Indians refuse to go quietly into the night and remain in the chase for a Wild Card spot with seven games to play. It seems improbable, but if Cleveland can take three or four games from Kansas City this week, the Indians will have T.J. House, Kluber and Carlos Carrasco available for their final three games next weekend against Tampa Bay. It’s their three best pitchers in the last two months going in the final three days of the season. Monday suddenly seems like a day that can build some serious momentum for the rest of the week if the Feisty Featherheads can find a way to get two wins against Kansas City.
Up Next: Cleveland has the chance to secure four wins in three days against the Kansas City Royals. The Tribe has a chance to lock up two wins on Monday when they will complete a suspended game that originally began on August 31 in Kansas City. The Indians led 4-2 in the 10th inning when heavy rains forced the cancellation of the game for that evening. Cleveland has left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett on the mound, looking to secure three outs for the win. The game is scheduled to resume at 6:05 p.m.
After the first game is ended the Tribe and Royals will play tomorrow’s regularly scheduled game at 7:05 p.m, or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65) will take the mound for the Indians. Kansas City, trying to survive in the Wild Card race, will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42).
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images