Corey Kluber scattered a run and seven hits over seven innings of work and got big contributions from Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez in an Indians’ 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers from downtown Cleveland on Tuesday night.
Making his second start of the season against the Brewers after taking a tough loss in Milwaukee during an earlier series in May, Kluber kept the ball in the yard and limited the damage that his opposition could do against him, despite giving up seven hits on the night.
The 32-year-old right-hander was able to work around a one-out single in the first inning by Christian Yelich, getting former Indians first base prospect Jesus Aguilar to ground into a double play in a tough night at the plate for the reformed slugger. After the Indians went down in order in their half of the first, Kluber struck out the side in the second.
The Indians would put up their biggest inning of the night against Brewers starter Junior Guerra in the bottom of the second. Edwin Encarnacion drew the always-beneficial leadoff walk and a single to right by Yonder Alonso through the shift put two on. Jason Kipnis lined out sharply to right for the first out, but Yan Gomes dropped in a single to center in front of Lorenzo Cain to load the bases. Making his first trip to the plate since being activated from the disabled list, Chisenhall sent the second pitch that he saw back up the middle into center field, scoring both Encarnacion and Alonso to put the Tribe on top, 2-0. Guerra would prevent further damage with two on by getting Greg Allen to ground into a double play.
The Brewers responded with a run in the third to cut the deficit in half. Manny Pina doubled to the left-center gap with one out and moved to third on an infield single near the foul line by Orlando Arcia. Cain delivered the RBI-single to right to score Pina before Yelich lined out and Aguilar struck out swinging to waste a big scoring opportunity.
Cleveland would get its final run of the game in the third inning, coming from an all-too-familiar power source in the heart of the order. After Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley were retired to start the inning, Ramirez cleared the wall in right with a solo shot to push the Indians lead back out to two at 3-1.
Kluber would allow hits in each of the next three innings, but escaped with no additional base runners, errors, or other blunders that could threaten his lead. Ji-Man Choi singled with two outs in the fourth, Cain did the same with two down in the fifth, and Ryan Braun followed suit with a single to center in the sixth. The Tribe offense, however, could not put more runs on the board despite their own steady stream of base runners against Guerra, as Kipnis doubled with one out in the fourth, Brantley had a two-base hit with two outs in the fifth, and Kipnis added a base hit in the bottom of the sixth after two outs were recorded.
That would be the final frame for Guerra in his quality start. Kluber returned for the seventh, throwing a 1-2-3 inning with two groundouts sandwiching a line out before turning the game over to his bullpen. Neil Ramirez retired the side in order in the eighth, but trouble threatened briefly in the ninth when closer Cody Allen gave up a solo shot high off of the right field foul pole to Travis Shaw to make it a 3-2 game. With the pressure on, Allen got Braun to fly to right, Choi to ground to second, and Jonathan Villar to strike out looking on a four-seamer down and in to wrap up his tenth save of the year.
The Indians improved to 31-28 with the win, inching back up to a three and a half game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division. The win ended a three-game losing streak. The Brewers dropped to 37-24 on the year, but their two-game lead over the Chicago Cubs remained intact. The Brewers have dropped two in a row and three of their last four.
Kluber improved to 9-2 on the year with the win and realistically should already be at double digits, had it not been for the eleven-run implosion of the bullpen in his solid start against Houston two outings ago. He worked seven innings, allowing a run on seven hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. It was his 13th start of the year and his 13th quality start. He has not walked a batter since the last time he pitched against the Brewers on May 8, when he issued a free pass to Domingo Santana.
Guerra was the tough-luck loser, allowing just three runs over six innings of work in another quality outing from the 33-year-old righty. He has made three straight quality starts and has thrown one in four of his last five outings, but he dropped to 0-2 on the year and in his career against the Indians. He previously lost his matchup with the Tribe on May 9 in a 6-2 defeat, when he allowed four runs on six hits in five innings despite striking out nine.
The Indians offense froze up after the early run production, capitalizing on the bases loaded opportunity in the second for two of its three runs on the night. Several runners were left stranded in scoring position as the club went 2-for-8 in those situations and abandoned five on the night. Kipnis was the only batter to have more than one hit for the Indians and he has now hit in three straight games. Ramirez hit his 19th home run, remaining one off of the pace in the American League. Encarnacion’s double in the eighth inning off of Corey Knebel extended his hitting streak to eleven games, his longest stretch in a year.
Chisenhall was activated prior to the game, but it came at the cost of a job for Bradley Zimmer, who was optioned to Triple-A Columbus in a corresponding roster move. Chisenhall drove in a pair on the night, while Zimmer will head down I-71 to alleviate some pressing strikeout concerns at the plate with the Clippers. The young outfielder is hitting .226 on the year and has struck out 44 times in 114 plate appearances at the Major League level.
Aguilar, making his return to Progressive Field for the first time as a visiting player, did not create any new memories to cherish. He went 0-for-4, striking out three times while grounding out once to drop his batting average to .301 on the year. Cain, a longtime Kansas City Royal, went 2-for-4 with two singles in his return to Cleveland. He drove in one run, while Shaw, the Kent State product and son of former Tribe reliever Jeff Shaw, hit his 14th homer of the year in the ninth.
It is an incredibly quick turnaround for the two clubs, who will play an afternoon matinee on Wednesday in a 1:10 PM ET start, available on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Wisconsin for the broadcast audience. Both clubs have off days on Thursday before short road trips to Detroit (Indians) and Philadelphia (Brewers).
Carlos Carrasco (6-4, 4.50 ERA) will take his turn in the rotation and look to stop a personal rough stretch on the mound that has included eleven runs given up over his last two starts. His best outing of the year came against Milwaukee, when he threw a complete game while allowing two runs and striking out 14.
Chase Anderson (4-4, 4.45) will take the ball for the Brewers. The 30-year-old right-hander out of Texas will face the Indians for the second time in his career, following a loss against them in his rookie season in 2014 while with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He lost his last outing, allowing four runs (three earned) in five and two-thirds innings in Chicago against the White Sox.
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