August 24, 2013
When this season is recapped, I believe the biggest emphasis should be placed on the development of Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister into major-league starters. The biggest weakness on this club a year ago was the starting staff, and that's putting in mildly. McAllister and Kluber took their lumps against major league pitching last year, and the only reason why they were kept in the rotation was because the Indians were out of the race and had nobody else to pitch. But now it certainly appears that they have made their adjustments and have started to utilize their stuff to consistently get hitters out.
McAllister missed a big chunk of the season, but he's making up for lost time now. In his last three starts, he's allowed two or fewer runs and has gone at least six innings. That's nothing for Indians starters of late, which is the reason why the Indians are still in the Wild Card race. Tonight McAllister allowed just six base runners in 7.1 innings of work, almost never falling behind in the count. It was a workmanlike effort, without the pizazz of Jimenez in the middle innings last night, but in this case boring innings were good.
That's because the Indians finally gave an Indians starter some room for error. The Tribe bats jumped on Twins starter Liam Hendriks early and often, starting with Carlos Santana's two-run no-doubt bomb to seats in right field. Santana's homer followed a Jason Kipnis two-out single, a hit that broke another long hitless streak for the Tribe second baseman. Kipnis followed up the single with a two-run homer of his own in the third, a line drive that just barely cleared the wall and dropped into the bullpen beyond the fence. That gave McAllister a 4-1 lead to work with, and he took it from there.
The offense wasn't done yet, though. On his T-shirt night, Nick Swisher had a big hit of his own, a two-run double the hit the gap in right-center. Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn were on second and first, and by the time Stubbs had rounded third (he had held to make sure the ball would drop), Bourn was just a couple strides behind. The two crossed plate within seconds of each other. Even Michael Brantley, in the midst of his worst offensive slump of the season, pitched in when he hit sinking liner to left that Oswaldo Arcia couldn't quite bring in. That base hit drove home the seventh run of the game, just third time this month that the offense had scored that many runs in a game.
So because McAllister pitched into the eighth and the offense had given the pitching staff a comfortable margin, the Indians finished the game off with Bryan Shaw and Scrabble, who allowed just one
single double between them.
The Indians needed the win to keep pace with the wild card leaders, who both won. Boston/Tampa Bay each won to stay 5 games ahead of the Indians for the first spot, and Oakland won to stay 2.5 ahead for the second spot. However, the Indians did actually gain a game on someone, as the A's were playing the Orioles. So the Indians jumped past Baltimore to take over the first spot behind Oakland.
American League Wild Card Standings
*Boston/Tampa Bay do have different W/L records, but their winning percentage is very close.