The Cleveland Indians continued their playoff push by defeating the New York Mets by a final score of 8-1 on Friday night.
The Indians Scott Kazmir (8-7, 4.17 ERA) was dominant in shutting the Mets out for 6 innings and striking out a dozen in improving their record to 75-65.
The big blow for the Indians came in the bottom of the 8th inning. With the Indians leading 4-1 Nick Swisher belted a grand slam to give the Tribe the comfortable 8-1 lead.
The loss went to Zach Wheeler whose record falls to 7-4 with a 3.88 ERA.
The Detroit Tigers maintained their 6.5 game cushion over the Indians in the AL East as they defeated the Kansas City Royals by a final score of 16-2.
The Tampa Bay Rays continue their free fall dropping their game to the Seattle Marines by a final score of 5-4. Both the Indians and the Baltimore Orioles who defeated the hapless Chicago White Sox 4-0 now trail the Rays by a mere 2 games. The New York Yankees lost an 8-3 lead and were defeated by the Boston Red Sox by a final score of 12-8 remain 2.5 games behind the Rays.
Scott Kazmir was dominant holding the Mets scoreless through the first 6 innings allowing only 4 hits striking out 12 hitters and walking 0. He threw 97 pitches of which 74.2% (72 of 97) were strikes.
He threw 61 two-seam fastballs with an average velocity of 94.17 mph and a maximum velocity of 96.55 mph. His 61 fastballs generated 16 swing and misses, his 26 change ups generated 6 swing and misses, and his 9 sliders resulted in 2 swing and misses. All together he compiled an impressive 24.7% whiff rate (24 swing and misses out of 97 pitches).
The 12 strikeouts were one short of his career high set back on August 25, 2007 while a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. The opponent that night was the Oakland A’s and Kazmir struck out current Indian Nick Swisher twice that night.
While with the Rays in 2007 he also had 4 games with 11 strikeouts. The last being September 15, 2007 against the Seattle Mariners. His season high with the Indians was 10 back on May 9th against the Oakland A’s.
The Indians opened the evening with a record of 54-23 when scoring first and in the bottom of the first inning they quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Back to back singles from Micheal Bourn and Nick Swisher and a walk to Jason Kipnis loaded the bases with nobody out. Carlos Santana plated Bourn with a sacrifice fly but Zach Wheeler came back to strike Jason Kubel and Asdrubal Cabrera popped out in foul territory to end the inning.
The Tribe increased their lead to 2-0 in the 2nd inning. Lonnie Chisenhall drew a 1-out walk and advanced to 3rd when Wilmer Flores threw wildly on a Drew Stubbs ground ball. For the second consecutive inning a sacrifice fly, this time off the bat of Micheal Bourn, plated a run.
Drew Stubbs led off the bottom of the 5th inning with an infield single and stole second base to get into scoring position and Michael Bourn followed with a walk. Nick Swisher followed with a deep fly ball to right that allowed Drew Stubbs to tag up and move to 3rd. Wheeler struck out Jason Kipnis but Carlos Santana delivered the 2-out single to drive in Stubbs and give the Indians the 3-0 lead.
Zach Wheeler worked the first 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits striking out 3 and walking 5. He was replaced by Gonzalez Germen to begin the 6th inning.
Yan Gomes greeted Germen with a double off the wall in left and Lonnie Chisenhall doubled off the right field wall to score Gomes and push the Indians lead to 4-0. There was some confusion on the base paths which resulted in Chisenhall being thrown out at 3rd.
Scoring the 4th run of the night is a key to victory for the Tribe in 2013. When scoring 3 runs or less the Indians record is 14-48 but when scoring 4 or more their record improves to 60-17 including a 12-7 record (.632 win%) when scoring exactly 4 runs.
Cody Allen came in to replace Scott Kazmir and allowed a 1-out solo home run to Justin Turner to cut the Tribe’s lead to 4-1. Juan Lagares followed with a double over Drew Stubbs head in right but Allen retired Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores on fly balls to end the inning.
The Indians threatened again with 2-outs. Carlos Santana walked and moved to 3rd on a Matt Carson single. Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate for the 3rd time with 2-outsand runners in scoring position and grounded out to end the inning.
Joe Smith came in to work the 8th inning and gave up an infield single to Eric Young but Smith picked him off for the first out. He then retired Daniel Murphy on an infield pop out and struck out Josh Satin to end the inning.
The Indians put the game out of reach in the bottom of the 8th inning. David Aardsma opened the inning on the mound for the Mets and struck out Yan Gomes for the first out but walked Lonnie Chisenhall and gave up a double to Drew Stubbs which advanced pinch runner Jose Ramirez to 3rd.
Lefty Tim Byrdak came in to face Michael Bourn but issued the walk to load the bases. Nick Swisher put the game out of reach by delivering a grand slam to give the Indians an 8-1 lead.
Matt Albers came in to work a scoreless 9th inning.
The Good: Kazmir Picking up His Defense
Only 1-runner reached 3rd base against Kazmir. In the top of the 5th inning Juan Lagares reached base on an infield single. With 1-out Yan Gomes tried to pick off Lagares with a poorly thrown snap throw that got past Nick Swisher and allowed Lagares to advance to 3rd base. Kazmir responded by striking out Wilmer Flores on a 95 mph fastball and retired Eric Young on a ground out to Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Bad: Missed Opportunities
Asdrubal Cabrera was unable to deliver key hits with 2-outs stranding 4 runners in scoring position. He also appeared frustrated as he jogged down the first base line after grounding the ball to second. It may be time to give Asdrubal a few days off.
Are You Kidding Me?
Kazmir struck out the side in the 6th inning and needed only 11 pitches (10 fastballs and 1 change up). He reached back and hit 95 mph on the radar gun to get Daniel Murphy swinging, he threw a 94 mph fastball past Josh Satin , and reared back and got Andrew Brown swinging through a 95 mph fastball.
The Indians will send Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54 ERA) to the mound Saturday night at 6:05. It will be his first start since hitting the disabled list with a sprained finger on August 6th (last pitched August 5th). He will be on a limited pitch count around 9o pitches. He will be opposed by Jonathon Niese (6-6, 3.66 ERA).