May 3, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher John Axford (44) pitches against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Axford's Blown Save Spoils Kluber's Dazzling Performance

Kluber Strikes Out 7 Straight Sox in Loss

On Sunday afternoon, Corey Kluber fanned 13 White Sox, including a club record seven straight.  To say that he was dominant would be an understatement.  George Kottaras became the first Indians player to ever homer in his first two at-bats with the club.  But despite jarringly awesome performances from these two players, one swing of the bat was enough to turn the game around in the ninth inning.  After being unable to muster a comeback in the bottom half of the inning, the Tribe ultimately fell to Chicago by a score of 3-4.

Key Innings

Bottom of the 3rd, Indians Down 0-1

George Kottaras kicked off the inning by launching a 3-2 pitch into the bullpen in right field.  After soft groundouts from Nyjer Morgan and Nick Swisher, Michael Brantley singled up the middle and Carlos Santana drew a walk.  Lonnie Chisenhall then blooped a single into shallow left field to score Brantley from second.  Asdrubal Cabrera struck out swinging to kill the rally, but the Tribe had taken the lead by a margin of 2-1.

Top of the 9th, Indians Up 3-1

After walking Gordon Beckham, closer John Axford recovered by striking out home run leader Jose Abreu.  But he looked sloppy again when he issued a walk to left slugger Adam Dunn.  After the Sox pulled Dunn for pinch-runner Moises Sierra, Dayan Viciedo stepped up to the plate and smashed a four-seamer from Axford out of the ballpark to put Chicago up for good.  Axford struck out Alexei Ramirez, but was pulled in favor of Marc Rzepczynski.  Scrabble then got Jordan Danks to fly out to end the inning.

The Positives

Lonnie Chisenhall had another great performance, getting a hit in 3 out of 4 at-bats.  Corey Kluber looked better than ever, going eight innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts.  Nyjer Morgan hit a single and a double and keeps proving that he’s capable of standing in for Michael Bourn when injury strikes.  Oh, and George Kottaras was a pleasant surprise.

The Negatives

John Axford, obviously.  He admitted himself that he didn’t challenge the hitters as much as he should have, which led to a pair of walks before he finally challenged the wrong batter at the wrong time.  Let’s hope this is a random hiccup and not a sign of other things to come.  Carlos Santana is back to slumping, hitless in his last 8 at-bats.  I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but I can speak for a lot of fans when I say we’re running out of patience.  And Nick Swisher continues to be absolutely horrendous for the price the Indians are paying.  After another 0-for-4 on Sunday, he’s batting .203 on the year.  The Indians also left 12 runners on base.  Bad news.

Check It Out

-Between Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana, the Indians have a third of their regular lineup hitting under .220 and playing average to below-average defense.

-Corey Kluber broke a Cleveland Indians record by striking out 7 batters in a row.  The previous record of 6 was shared by four Indians, including Bob Feller and Bartolo Colon.

-The White Sox have already beaten the Indians twice as much as they did all of last season.

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