Indians lead big early, hold on late, and beat Padres 8-6 in Tuesday's series opener.

Jason Miller

Waiting an extra day for the Indians isn't so bad if they'll play like this.

Game 7: Indians 8, Padres 6

First, the bad news: Vinnie Pestano doesn't look like he's capable of helping the team right now. He came in for the 9th inning tonight, staked to an 8-3 lead, and things went downhill quickly. He gave up a home run to the first man he faced, and also gave up a triple and a single, and John Axford had to come in to record the final out. Pestano's velocity is down ~3 MPH from where it was in 2012, and he's allowed at least 1 earned run in all 3 of his appearances. I have to think he's the 8th man in the bullpen right now, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him sent to Columbus in the next few days. It's sad to see someone who did so much to help the team not so long ago now looking overmatched, but that's the way of things sometimes.

Also, Nick Swisher went 0 for 4 and made 2 errors in the field. That's not a big red flag or anything, but since I was getting the bad news out of the way, I thought I'd mention it.

Alright, on to the good news...

Corey Kluber gave up 3 runs in 6 innings Tuesday night, which is the bar to clear for what is officially considered a "quality start." He was better than that elementary look at his night would have you believe though, so let's try that again: Corey Kluber struck 8 batters in 6 innings Tuesday night, without walking a single hitter or allowing a home run. More than a strikeout per inning, no free passes, no long balls, that's a great game. The main reason Kluber gave up 3 runs was probably bad luck, as half the balls into play against him dropped in for hits, which is a very high percentage. If you're not already familiar with batting average on balls in play (BABIP), you should familiarize yourself, so that you can keep up with what the cool kids are talking about.

I did some digging around during the late innings, and found that in the 2000s (entering tonight) there have been 623 games in which a starting pitcher went 6+ innings with 8+ strikeouts, without any walks or home runs. In 76% of those games, the starter allowed 0 or 1 earned run; in 16% he allowed 2 earned runs, and in only 8% did he allow 3+ (poor Matt Cain allowed 7 earned runs in one such game last season). Anyway, that's a lot of digital ink over his pitching line, but it points towards a basic point I want to make, which is that after a rocky first start of the season, Kluber looked much better tonight. He looked like a guy we'll be happy with.

Meanwhile, the offense managed to take advantage of most of its opportunities, and gave the team a comfortable lead fairly early. Yan Gomes and David Murphy led off the 3rd with back-to-back walks, followed by Morgan making it aboard on a throwing error. After another ground ball and a sacrifice fly, all three of them had scored. Three runs without a single hit in the inning, you don't see that very often.

In the 4th innings Murphy hit his first home run as an Indian, putting the Tribe ahead 6-2. Murphy later doubled in a run in the 6th, and then scored his third run of the game on Morgan's third hit of the night. Morgan is playing really well, so there's no need for the Indians to rush Michael Bourn back (he was finally able to play in his second rehab game; he went 0 for 4 in Columbus this evening). Jason Kipnis didn't have any hits tonight, but he drew 2 walks, drove in a run with a long fly ball, and stole his third base of the season.

Tomorrow brings a doubleheader (the second of the season already), with Zach McAllister scheduled to start the first game (12:05 ET) and Trevor Bauer having been called up to start the second (which will begin 20-30 minutes after the completion of the first game. A couple more like the first 8 innings of this one sure would be nice.

Box Score

Win-expectancy chart:


Source: FanGraphs

Roll Call:

Game Thread

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