Former Cy Winners Kluber and Price Duel in Game 2 in Cleveland
Bob Toth | On 07, Oct 2016
With a checked swing called third strike in the dirt to Boston’s Dustin Pedroia, the Cleveland Indians notched their first postseason win since October 16, 2007.
They will look to make it two in a row over the Red Sox on Friday afternoon as Corey Kluber and David Price face off in a battle of former American League Cy Young Award winners and a rematch of the Opening Day starters for each club.
The ball was flying out of Progressive Field on Thursday night, spelling doom for starters Trevor Bauer and Rick Porcello, who both failed to complete five innings on the mound. The good news for Cleveland was a strong, albeit unconventional, usage of their top three bullpen arms to hold the Red Sox to just one run over the final four and one-third innings on the night. The Boston bullpen was equally in control, throwing three and two-thirds scoreless innings after Porcello’s exit.
GAME TIMES AND PITCHING PROBABLES
Thursday, 10/6/16 – Cleveland 5, Boston 4
Friday, 10/7/16 (4:38 PM ET in CLE) – LHP David Price (17-9, 3.99) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14)
Sunday, 10/9/16 (4:00 PM ET in BOS) – RHP Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (8-10, 4.78)
Monday, 10/10/16* (TBD in BOS) – TBD vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-7, 4.71)
Wednesday, 10/12/16* (TBD in CLE) – TBD vs. TBD
TV (all games) – TBS
Radio (all games) – Indians Radio Network; WEEI 93.7 FM, ESPN Radio (Boston)
All eyes will be glued to Kluber and his bulky right quad that brought a premature end to his 2016 regular season. While still remaining a top Cy Young candidate when his season ended, he has not fired a pitch in a game since the day the Indians clinched the American League Central crown.
At the time of the injury, Kluber was full steam ahead to his second piece of top pitching hardware in three seasons. After some bumps in the road in a 9-8 first half with a 3.61 ERA but stellar 1.01 WHIP, Kluber went 9-1 down the stretch with a 2.52 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He made 32 starts in total on the year, going 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 215 innings of work. He finished in the top five in strikeouts in the AL for the third straight season, posting 227 K while issuing a slightly-higher-than-normal 57 walks (2.4 per nine innings). He was also named an All-Star for the first time in his career this season.
Against the Sox, Kluber is 2-3 in nine career games (eight starts) with a 4.78 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He made two starts against them this season, taking a win and a loss.
PRICE HOPES TO END POSTSEASON START WOES
Price has made eight postseason starts – and lost each of the first seven until a no-decision in his final start of the ALCS last season while with the Toronto Blue Jays. He did earn a win in the postseason last season, claiming his second playoff win of his career with three innings of relief against the Texas Rangers in the ALDS despite allowing three runs on six hits.
In 14 total playoff appearances dating back to 2008, Price is 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and one save.
Price has been dominant against the Indians throughout his career, but has never faced them on a stage like this. In 14 career starts against Cleveland, he is 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with one complete game shutout. He took home a win in his only start against the Indians on the rescheduled Opening Day, allowing two runs on five hits with two walks and ten strikeouts in six innings of work.
It feels surprising to note that, of all Indians players on the active playoff roster, Lonnie Chisenhall owns the top average against Price. Defying traditional lefty-lefty splits, the Indians right fielder is 4-for-11 in his career with two singles, a double, a homer, and is tied with two others for the team lead in RBI off of Price with three.
Playing more to the customary splits, Price’s former teammate in Tampa, Brandon Guyer, has hit for the career cycle against the southpaw. In 18 plate appearances, he is 4-for-14 with a single, double, triple, and homer with three RBI. He will likely be in the Tribe lineup on Friday afternoon.
Carlos Santana is 10-for-31 (.323) against Price with four doubles and two RBI. Jason Kipnis is 8-for-26 (.308) with a pair of doubles and Mike Napoli has a team-high two homers against Price while joining the trio of players with three RBI against him.
Against Kluber, MVP candidate Mookie Betts is a .400 hitter with a double, homer, and a pair of RBI in eleven trips to the plate. Second-year man Travis Shaw is 4-for-11 (.364) with a solo homer, while Brock Holt, Hanley Ramirez, and Aaron Hill are all .333 lifetime hitters against Kluber.
While some have had great success against Friday’s probables, there are those who have yet to figure out the opposition.
Jose Ramirez is just 1-for-9 in his career with a single against Price and has uncharacteristically struck out in five of ten plate appearances. Catcher Yan Gomes is just 1-for-18 (.056) versus Price with a single and an RBI.
Pedroia, who seems to find success against everyone, is just 2-for-16 (.125) against Kluber with a single and double and two RBI. Xander Bogaerts has fared even worse, going 1-for-11 (.091) with a double and one RBI.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGEOUS
Progressive Field played for the Tribe as a home sweet home throughout the season. The Indians won 53 games on their home turf, tied for the second-most wins in baseball this season (behind the 57 by the Chicago Cubs) and tied with the Texas Rangers for the best mark in the American League.
Only Colorado (508) and Boston (477) put up more runs at home this season than Cleveland (452). The Indians also put up the third-best home batting average (.288), on-base percentage (.359), and slugging (.469).
Ramirez was one of the top home hitters in the game, putting together a .347/.408/.544 line in 78 home contests with 32 doubles, eight homers, and 49 RBI. Francisco Lindor was just a hair behind him with a .344/.401/.493 slash with 23 doubles, two triples, six homers, and 47 RBI.
Napoli was third in all of baseball with 71 RBI at home. He was tied for fourth in MLB and second in the AL with 22 dingers at Progressive Field.
The series will move to Boston for Game 3 on Sunday afternoon with a scheduled first pitch time of 4:00 PM ET, but the game will have a Texas feel on the mound.
The Red Sox will start the 32-year-old Texan Buchholz. The right-hander made 21 starts and 16 appearances in relief during a tough year in the center of the diamond, but brought his best to the mound in September when he went 3-0 in five starts with a 3.14 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.
The Indians will look to their 31-year-old Tyler, Texas, native Tomlin and hope that he continues the strong run that he ended the regular season on and not the slump that he fought through during much of the second half. After being bumped briefly from the starting rotation after he went 0-5 in six starts in August with an 11.48 ERA and 1.95 WHIP, he responded with a 2-1 record in September/October with a 1.69 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in five games (four starts).
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images