Power was the key to the Indians’ win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. Corey Kluber delivered yet another quality start, allowing two runs and nine hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out nine, walked none, and kept the Tribe in the game until the lineup finally came to life. Rays starter Jake Odorizzi mystified Cleveland’s hitters, striking out a career-high 11 batters in five innings. Once he was out of the game, the Tribe used the long ball to grab the lead from Tampa Bay’s bullpen.
Top of the 7th, Indians trail 1-2
Michael Brantley hit a bomb of his own to lead off the seventh inning, this time against Joel Peralta. Peralta then walked Carlos Santana and gave up a single to Cabrera before he was pulled in favor of Brandon Gomes. Yan Gomes responded with an RBI single that gave Cleveland the lead, and with two on and two out later in the inning, Mike Aviles stepped to the plate and launched a 3-run home run to make it 6-2.
Bottom of the 9th, Indians lead 6-2
The ninth inning started out as a non-save situation, before John Axford allowed a run to score and proceeded to load the bases, despite striking out the first two batters he faced. Cody Allen came in to face James Loney, and after a lengthy battle, Loney popped out to right fielder David Murphy. Allen was credited with his first save of the year.
Cabrera seems to be breaking out of his slump. He had his third multi-hit game in a row, including two home runs. Sure, it’s a very small hot streak, but it’s a good sign for a player who looked helpless at the plate throughout April. Aviles has also been a pleasant surprise in his new role as the everyday second baseman. He’s done an admirable job of filling in while Jason Kipnis is on the disabled list, with nine hits in his last four games.
Santana still isn’t hitting. That phrase has been repeated so many times this year that there’s almost nothing left to say about it, except that his average is down to .139 and he’s only had one hit in his last 24 at-bats. Also, Axford turned what should have been an easy outing into a bases-loaded jam, which forced Terry Francona to bring in Allen. Allen can’t be both the setup man and the rescue-the-closer guy, so Axford needs to turn it around in a hurry.
Check It Out
- Allen has already pitched in 18 games this season and has only allowed three earned runs, all of which came on a home run by the Giants’ Brandon Hicks. He also has allowed only one of ten inherited runners to score.
- Kluber has struck out 57 batters in 51 2/3 innings. He’s walked just 12.
- Tampa Bay and the Indians are trending in opposite directions – the Tribe has won four straight, while the Rays have lost their last four.