Looking to continue his recent run of success, Tribe starter Corey Kluber took the mound on Saturday night against a Twins team with a history of roughing him up. Fortunately, this is a different Kluber than the Twins have seen in the past and it showed once again. Kluber wasn’t nearly as sharp as his previous two starts, but he did enough to put the Tribe in a position to win yet again. He went 5.3 innings and gave up eight hits, two of which were homers, but he only allowed three runs. When he stepped off the mound in the sixth he did so handing over an 8-3 lead.
Despite their best efforts, the bullpen was able to maintain the lead that the offense had built up for Kluber. Nick Hagadone, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Rich Hill, and Vinnie Pestano combined to pitch 3.1 innings allowing five hits, three runs, and two more home runs. The biggest offender of the near collapse was Pestano who once again struggled in the bottom half of the ninth inning.He allowed two runs and coughed up yet another home run, leading many in attendance to have Vietnam like flash back to Chris Perez.
Meanwhile, the offense got off to a quick start on Saturday night. After falling behind 2-0 in the top half of the inning thanks to a two-run home run by Joe Mauer, an offensive onslaught took place. Jason Kipnis doubled to score Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles who had reached base on a walk and hit by pitch respectively. Three batter later, Jason Giambi walked with the bases loaded to score the Indians third run of the game. Two batters later, following a Lonnie Chisenhall fly out, Drew Stubbs walked to plate the fourth run of the inning. Closing out the scoring, Michael Bourn singled to score both Mark Raynolds and Giambi.
After the Twins got a run back in the top of the fourth thanks to a Oswaldo Arcia, the Indians struck for two more of their own in the bottom of the fifth. Giambi walked and Chisenhall doubled to start things off. Stubbs and Bourn followed with back to back RBI singles making it an 8-3 ball game. And it’s a good thing they did because the Twins had no interest in rolling over on Saturday night.
Trevor Plouffe drove in the Twins fourth run of the game in the top of the seventh with an RBI single off of Hagadone. An inning later, Chris Parmelee homered off of Bryan Shaw to make it 8-5. Finally in the top of the ninth, Arcia came through with an RBI ground out and Parmelee homered off of the aforementioned Pestano to cut the lead to 8-7. Luckily, Pestano was able to overcome the adversity and strike out pinch hitter Josh Willingham to end the game.
The Good: Corey Kluber was solid yet again. Good, but not great. His 5.2 innings were enough to earn him the win and just enough for the bullpen to do their job. He is now 6-4 on the year and showing no sign of slowing down.
The real good, though, was the performance of Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis. Together they combined to go 6 for 8 with 2 runs scored, 5 RBI, 2 walks, 4 singles, a double and a triple. Bourn has been outstanding all season long hitting .303/.355/.399. Kipnis, who started off the year in a terrible funk has raised his slash line to .275/.351/.474 thanks in part to a red-hot month of June.
The Bad: The bullpen. I know the Indians got the win, but they did their best to try to make things interesting. Also, what is going on with Vinnie Pestano? He has gone from virtually unhittable to getting roughed up on an almost daily basis. Is he still hurt or is pitching the ninth inning to blame? The Indians had better figure it out.