Indians Offense Shows Kluber Lots of Love; Indians 10, Tigers 1
Bob Toth | On 23, Apr 2016
The Cleveland Indians offense did something that they had not done in Corey Kluber’s first three starts this season by erupting for ten runs off of Detroit pitching in knocking off the Tigers at Comerica Park on Saturday afternoon, 10-1.
The Tribe did it by putting up more offense in the first inning than the Tigers would get in nine innings against Cleveland pitching.
The Indians spotted Kluber a rare big lead by jumping out on Anibal Sanchez in the first inning. Jason Kipnis singled to center with one out and moved to second on a walk from Francisco Lindor. After a strikeout from Mike Napoli, Yan Gomes started his big day with a 1-2 single to center, knocking in Kipnis with the first run of the day. Jose Ramirez fouled off several pitches before singling to center to score Lindor. With Lonnie Chisenhall at the plate and runners on the corners, Ramirez attempted to steal second and a throwing error by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia allowed Gomes to score and Ramirez to take third on the play. Chisenhall grounded out to second, but Cleveland and Kluber had a 3-0 lead.
Kluber gave up his first hit of the game in the second, when J.D. Martinez singled to left with one out, but he was erased on a double play ball to third to end the inning. The Tribe offense then got back to work in the top of the third and ripped the game wide open. Lindor led off with a single and stole second before Napoli singled, moving him to third. Gomes then parked the first pitch of his at bat over the wall in left-center to give the Indians a 6-0 lead. Chisenhall tripled to deep right center with one out and scored on a single from Rajai Davis, knocking Sanchez out of the game. Davis was picked off by reliever Kyle Ryan, but a Tyler Naquin double was followed by an RBI-double from Carlos Santana to give the Tribe a commanding 8-0 lead.
Paced with his biggest lead of the season, Kluber locked in, allowing just a one-out base runner on an error in the third inning and a solo home run by Saltalamacchia with two outs in the fifth. After the lone run of the game for Detroit, Kluber retired ten straight to wrap up his outing with eight innings of two-hit ball on the mound.
The Indians padded that eight-run lead in the seventh, after Napoli singled to lead off the inning and Gomes doubled him home for his third hit of the game. Davis later doubled Gomes in with two outs off of reliever Alex Wilson.
The Indians have now won two straight and pulled back over the .500 mark at 8-7. The Tigers have dropped three straight to fall to even at 8-8.
Kluber (1-3, 4.67 ERA) pitched ahead and was nearly untouchable on the mound for the Tribe. He threw 64 of 100 pitches in eight innings of work and was first pitch strike to 14 of 26 batters faced. He allowed just two hits, one run, did not walk a batter, and sat down ten on strikes.
“To score early, and then to add on in the third inning, and you could tell [Kluber] was on top of his game,” said manager Terry Francona after the game. “It’s nice for him to be able to pitch where, the ball to Saltalamacchia doesn’t cost him a game or we’re still tied. He threw a bunch of strikes with a lot of different pitches, different speeds, kept them off-balance. And our offense did a really good job.”
It was the first time this season that Kluber has pitched with more than a 1-0 lead. The ten runs spotted to the Tribe starter are the most by the offense in one of his starts since July 29 of last season, when they gave him a dozen in a 12-1 complete game victory over the Kansas City Royals. The offense has scored in double digits in his starts just three times in the last three seasons.
“A bunch of good things happened in the last couple of days,” said Gomes in a postgame interview. “We got some clutch hits yesterday. We had an unbelievable performance by Tomlin. Same thing, [Kluber] piggy-backed right from where Tomlin had it and pitched unbelievable, kept our offense going. It was quick innings. We were swinging the bat right out of the get-go. Once that happens, it’s really good to have those shutout innings and Kluber did.”
KLUBER EXTENDS RECORD
With his ten strikeouts and no walks in the ball game, Kluber registered his 17th career start with ten or more strikeouts and one walk or less. Bob Feller is the next closest pitcher on the Indians list with such a performance, doing so eight times in his career.
SANCHEZ A SHORT OUTING
Sanchez (2-2, 7.00) could not escape the third inning, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts. It was his first start this season of less than five innings on the mound and comes on the heels of his first loss, when he allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings against Houston. Sanchez has now lost each of his last three starts against the Indians, dating back to the 2014 season.
Miguel Cabrera saw just nine pitches at the plate in three at bats and was held hitless again. His batting average for the season has now fallen to .210. He is 2-for-24 in his last six games with one walk and two RBI.
Santana entered this series against the Tigers hitting .174. Penciled in to the leadoff spot for Friday’s game, he has a pair of multi-hit games in the back-to-back Cleveland wins. In his small sample size as the Indians leadoff hitter, he is 4-for-9 with two doubles, a homer, one run scored, and one RBI, pushing his season average to .218.
“There’s no crystal ball. I know we never try to throw stuff at the wall and hope it sticks,” said Francona regarding Santana in the first spot on the lineup card. “We’ve given stuff a lot of thought. Again, I think the idea is sound. You look at the lineup and you want to make sure there’s some balance and, then when you’re in the middle, you feel like if we have guys on base that we have some guys that are gonna do some damage.”
JOIN THE HIT PARADE
By the third inning, each member of the Indians starting lineup had registered a hit off of Detroit pitching. Gomes led the march through Detroit with three hits and five RBI on the afternoon, falling just a triple short of hitting for the cycle while matching a career high in runs driven in. Kipnis, Napoli, Santana, and Davis chipped in two hits each.
CUTTING DOWN THE K’S
Despite the win on Friday night, the Indians struck out a dozen times at the plate. On Saturday, those results were completely opposite, as only Lindor, Napoli, and Naquin struck out on the afternoon.
MAKING UP FOR FRIDAY
Gomes and Napoli combined for seven of the Indians’ 12 strikeouts on Friday night while going 0-for-8 at the plate. They went 5-for-10 with five runs scored and five RBI with just one K on Saturday.
“I thought it was good on a number of fronts. He swung the bat really good,” said Francona of Gomes’ effort at the plate. “We get a 3-0 lead and all of a sudden on one pitch, we spread it out. He took a really good swing.”
“Nap and I had a nice little competition today,” said Gomes. “We didn’t quite contribute yesterday, but today we wanted to show that the four and five hole, sometimes, you gotta take some swings. We had a nice little game between each other going today and I think I won today, but I’m sure he could turn it around quick.”
The Indians will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon in the 1:10 PM ET scheduled first pitch. Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (2-0, 2.79) will throw for the Tribe, while Shane Greene (1-1, 7.15) will oppose for the Tigers.
Photo: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio