Records: Kansas City 10-11, Cleveland 11-11
The Indians pounced on the Royals' Bruce Chen for 5 runs in the fifth inning of Thursday afternoon's contest, and never looked back as they picked up the series-clinching victory in fine style, coming out on top 5-1 winners.
The story of the day was Corey Kluber, who had an absolutely dominant performance on the mound. Kluber pitched the first complete game of his career, and it took him just 101 pitches to do so. He was sublime and had every pitch in his arsenal working. He finished the day with all 9 innings pitched, 0 walks, 0 earned runs, 4 hits, and 11 strikeouts. I said in my pre-game notes that to be successful he would have to rely on his arm and not on the Indians error-prone defense and he took my advice literally, striking out KC hitters at will. Kluber's performance this afternoon was easily the best Indians pitching performance of this young season so far.
The Tribe's offensive heroes for the day were the only guys on the team who seem to get hits with any regularity. Michael Brantley got the ball rolling when his single up the middle brought home Carlos Santana to make it 1-0 to the Indians in the bottom of the fifth. Credit to Santana for breaking his slump with a double to get the rally started. Brantley had a highlight play on defense earlier in the top of the fifth inning, when he gunned down Alcides Escobar trying for third base. It seems like major league teams still don't know that Brantley does in fact have a pretty good arm from the outfield and should not be tested.
David Murphy, the RISP machine that he is, was the next to strike. After Ryan Raburn walked and Yan Gomes singled to load bases, Murphy came through in a big spot yet again. He slapped a single down the left field line to score Raburn and Brantley to make it 3-0 Indians. That gives Murphy 17 RBI on the year, just two behind the team-leading Brantley.
An unlikely hero was the next Indians player to make an impact. Still in the fifth inning, Asdrubal Cabrera took the first pitch he saw from the struggling Bruce Chen and ripped a double down the left field line to make it 5-0. We fans give Cabrera a hard time, because let's be honest, he makes some bone-headed plays out there. However he was excellent today and had an impressive defensive play in the first inning, when he dived for a certain Eric Hosmer single and turned it into an out from his knees. I have to admit it was nice to see Cabrera have a positive effect on the team for a change.
The Royals scored their only run in the top of the seventh inning, when a sharp ball down the first base line got past Nick Swisher far too easily, allowing Omar Infante to score. Swisher was charged with the error and it went down as an unearned run for Kluber. Swisher's performance was the only negative on an otherwise perfect day for the Tribe. He really struggled at the plate again, going 0-4 with 3 strikeouts in a row.
With today's victory the Indians capture the series win over the Royals, taking three out of the four games. Tomorrow the Tribe head out west to take on San Francisco, which means first pitch in tomorrow's game starts at 3 a.m for me here in England. I think I might have to give that one a miss...
Win expectancy chart
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10:15 p.m. ET (STO, WTAM)