The Cleveland Indians are taking care of business. If they find a way to sneak into a playoff spot, no one is going to be able to accuse them of backing in. With Sunday’s win, the Indians won their fourth game in a row en route to sweeping the Astros out of Cleveland and increased their lead in the AL Wild card race to 1.5 games ahead of the free-falling Texas Rangers.
Corey Kluber pitched great on Sunday afternoon and continued the trend that had developed throughout the series against the Astros. He allowed only two runs to cross the plate in 5.1 innings of work. He also struck out six and walked only one as he picked up his tenth win of the season. For Kluber, the start helps make the case for why he deserves a spot on the Indians playoff roster. Whether or not he gets a spot, however, remains the question.
Meanwhile, the Tribe’s offense finally showed up for the first time since leaving Chicago. After being held to 2, 2, and 4 runs over the past three games, the Indians erupted for 9 runs on Sunday and gave the Tribe faithful a comfortable and relatively stress free game to watch. How and why the Astros were able to shut the Indians down for so long will probably always be a mystery, but at the same time you can’t argue with the result. Getting the four game series sweep couldn’t have played out any better.
The Indians fell behind early when Chris Carter connected for his second solo home run in as many nights in the top half of the second. Houston then scored a second run to go ahead 2-0 in the top half of the fourth. The Astros loaded the bases, but once again were unable to make the Indians pay. The lone run came thanks to a double play ball hit by Trevor Crowe in which the Indians exchanged the runner at third for two outs.
From that point on it was all Indians. They put three runs up on the board in the fourth thanks to an RBI double by Carlos Santana and then RBI singles from Michael Brantley and Mike Aviles. By the time the inning had ended, the Indians were up by a score of 3-2 and looked every bit in control following the shaky first few innings. They weren’t done, though.
In the sixth, the Indians put a four spot up on the scoreboard. Brantley delivered another RBI single to stretch the lead to 4-2. Then, needing one big hit to bust things open, Michael Bourn delivered. He smacked a triple to right that allowed both Yan Gomes and Brantley to score. Finally, Nick Swisher delievered an RBI sack fly to bring home Bourn and make it a 7-2 game.
The Indians eventually added two more runs. The first came off of the bat of Mike Aviles in the in the seventh when he singled home Matt Carson. The second, and the exclamation point for the game itself, came when Carlos Santana drilled a solo shot to right in the bottom half of the eighth inning. The home run made it a 9-2 ball game.
With the win, the Indians improved their record on the year to 86-70. More importantly, they were able to dominate the Houston Astros and take advantage of a team that is very much in the middle stages of rebuilding. The Indians will have the day off today, but will look to get back into the swing of things as they welcome the Chicago White Sox to town for a two game series starting on Tuesday.