Player of the Game
Corey Kluber has been the Indians most dependable pitcher of late and he remained so tonight, throwing five innings of shut out baseball against the Twins. Kluber allowed just five base runners (all of which reached after two were out) and struck out six before being removed due to some hip pain after throwing just 93 pitches. He was unable to earn the win, despite leading 2-0 when he left the game as Rich Hill and Lonnie Chisenhall combined for a blown save that was attributed to Bryan Shaw.
Zach McAllister threw a bullpen session before the game started today and has been cleared to make the start next Tuesday against Seattle. This is great news as the Indians have been playing with a four man rotation (plus spot starts by Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar) since McAllister went down on the third of June.
Jason Kipnis continues to lead his Indians and he knocked in the Indians first two runs with an opposite field two run home run in the sixth. Kipnis leads the Indians in RBI, steals, runs, doubles, triples, average, OBP and SLG. The home run placed him just one behind Mark Reynolds who still leads the team with 15.
Corey Kluber had some issues after two outs were recorded multiple times tonight and it lead to a high pitch count and early exit from the game. In each of the first three innings, Kluber retired the first two batters then allowed at least one runner to reach. Because there were two outs, he was easily able to get out the situations without any runs scoring, but he still gave the Twins a few chances early on.
You don't have to play good defense to win, but you can't play bad defense when you aren't hitting at all. Tonight Lonnie Chisenhall had another error that lead to an unearned run and Jason Kipnis had a rare fumble at second. This is the second game in a row that the Indians have scored just two runs and had an unearned run make up the winning margin.
The Indians bullpen has not been as bad overall as they have been described this year, but Rich Hill has been. One benefit of my 'Player of the Game' system is that it records whether a player has a good (score of .01 or more) or bad (-.01 or less) game each time out. Hill leads all Indians pitchers with 16 bad games and just 23 good. To compare, the Indians best reliever, Chris Perez, has had 22 good games and just five bad. These bad games include a team high 14 inherited runners scored and just 17 stranded. His walk rate of 5.4 per nine innings is the highest on the team and more than half of his walks have come against left handed batters, the very batters he is supposed to be matching up against. Today he simply allowed a walk and single without retiring a batter, before Terry Francona woke up and pulled him from the game. Hill has no right to be pitching in any Major League game at all, especially not in a close game for a team that is trying to win a Division title.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 2 - Minnesota Twins 3