Tribe Snakebitten in Arizona in Third Straight Loss; Diamondbacks 3, Indians 2
Bob Toth | On 09, Apr 2017
Arizona’s rookie manager Torey Lovullo could not have scripted a better beginning to his managerial career as his Diamondback improved to 6-1 to start the season with a 3-2 win on Sunday to complete the sweep over the reigning American League champion Cleveland Indians.
The former Indians player and minor league manager has his team rolling. His offense, while extremely slow to start, makes up for it plenty in the middle and late innings. The D’Backs outscored the Indians 21-7 in the three-game series and are the most productive offense in the game with 48 runs scored on the young season. Their pitching has gotten the job done as well, as combined with the run production, the Diamondbacks have the top run differential in baseball.
Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin stepped up big for the Diamondbacks, who were going up against last year’s third place finisher in the AL Cy Young voting in Corey Kluber. The Indians got a quality start from their right-hander, but the D’Backs got six scoreless from their former All-Star starter.
It took the Indians eight batters to get their first base runner of the afternoon as Austin Jackson doubled to right off of Corbin in the third. He would be stranded there, as Kluber flied out and Carlos Santana grounded out to end the brief threat. They had another opportunity in the fourth when Francisco Lindor singled to start the fourth and moved to second with one out on a walk by Edwin Encarnacion, but a force at second and a grounder to short left the go-ahead run standing at third base.
The Diamondbacks took advantage in the bottom of the fourth with more two-out runs. After just a Paul Goldschmidt first inning single through the first three and two-thirds innings, Jake Lamb got things going with a single to right. Another single from Chris Owings and a third straight from Daniel Descalso led to the first run of the game crossing home plate. A double steal, compounded by a throwing error by catcher Yan Gomes, allowed the second run of the inning to score and the Diamondbacks took a 2-0 lead.
Cleveland would again leave a runner in scoring position in the fourth, when Gomes walked and Kluber singled with one out to put two on, but Santana grounded into an inning-ending double play as Corbin once again worked out of a jam.
Owings would come up big again in the sixth as he batted with one out against Kluber. Not normally much of a home run threat, he relocated Kluber’s 0-2 offering out of the park to left to extend the Arizona lead to 3-0.
The Indians would chip away in the late innings, showing that never-say-die attitude but they just ran out of innings.
Andrew Chafin came on for Lovullo in the seventh and promptly got into trouble. Yandy Diaz singled to center and moved to second on a wild pitch before a walk to Gomes had the Indians in business. The rally appeared quickly short circuited, however, as Jackson grounded to second. Brandon Drury flipped high to Owings at second and his return throw to first was wild for an error. Manager Terry Francona challenged the call on the field that Owings had touched the base and after review, the play was overturned. Diaz scored and runners stood at first and second with no outs. A sacrifice by Michael Martinez, pinch-hitting for Kluber, put the first out on the board and moved the tying runs into scoring position, but Santana and Lindor were retired and the threat was squelched.
After wasting a one-out single by Encarnacion in the eighth, the Indians went to the ninth against closer Fernando Rodney. Gomes grounded to third baseman Lamb, but his throw to first sailed high, allowing the Indians catcher to move into scoring position. A grounder from Jackson advanced Gomes to third and a single from Abraham Almonte made it a one-run game. With the tying run on, Santana and Lindor could not deliver again, as Santana flied out to right and Lindor struck out swinging to end it.
Corbin earned his first win of the season while Kluber took his first defeat. Rodney’s save was his second of the year.
At 6-1, the Diamondbacks sit atop the NL West. After dropping the final three games of its season opening six-game road trip, Cleveland (3-3) is in third place in the AL Central, two games behind the 5-1 Minnesota Twins.
QUALITY KLUBER NOT ENOUGH
Once again, the home run ball proved to be a big difference in a Kluber start. After allowing three in the season opener to Texas, he allowed one on Sunday, but it proved to be the deciding run in the final score.
Kluber worked six innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts on 90 pitches.
CORBIN CONTAINS DANGEROUS TRIBE LINEUP
Corbin’s first start to the season left a little something to be desired as he had lasted just four innings against the San Francisco Giants.
He looked a completely different pitcher on Sunday as he shut down the Indians over six scoreless innings, giving up just four hits and two walks while striking out three to improve to 1-1 on the season with a 1.80 ERA.
HELPING HIS OWN CAUSE
Kluber entered a career .118 hitter over 21 plate appearances in his career with a single in 2014 and a double last season (he also singled in two plate appearances in the World Series). After flying out in the third inning, he singled to center in the fifth, but would be erased on the double play ball from Santana.
Through their first seven games, the Diamondbacks have amassed just one run of offense over the first three innings. After that first trip-plus through the order, their lineup has produced in mass quantities, scoring 47 runs from the fourth inning on.
KIPNIS MAKES HIS DEBUT
Hitting second and playing designated hitter, Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis made his rehab debut on Sunday afternoon with the Double-A Akron RubberDucks. He went 1-for-3 in the contest with a single to his credit.
He is expected to play second base on Monday when the ‘Ducks host the Trenton Thunder.
Lonnie Chisenhall did not play on Sunday, as expected, but looked ready in his brief warmup with the Columbus Clippers in Louisville against the Bats. After getting a single in four at bats while DH’ing in his debut on Friday, he went 4-for-4 with three singles, a double, one stolen base, and two runs scored in Columbus’ ten-inning 9-8 win over the Bats on Saturday. He played right field in the game and left after six and a half innings for defensive replacement Erik Gonzalez. He would appear likely to be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday when the club hosts the Chicago White Sox from Progressive Field.
TAKE ME HOME
With their six-game road trip to start the season completed, the Indians will take Monday off before opening the home schedule with a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday afternoon. Carlos Carrasco will get the start for the Tribe in the ball game against Sox right-hander James Shields.
The Diamondbacks, with their seven-game homestand complete, will head to San Francisco to rematch the Giants in three games beginning Monday afternoon.
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images