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Second Thoughts Game #60: Red Sox 4, Indians 7

Bullpen holds down the fort as Cabrera wins it with 3-run extra-innings blast

Second Thoughts Game #60: Red Sox 4, Indians 7
The Indians mob Asdrubal Cabrera at home plate after his walkoff winner. (Photo: AP)
June 5, 2014
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A phenomenal home stand ends with a bang as Asdrubal Cabrera becomes the latest walk-off hero with a three-run line drive homer in the twelfth inning of Wednesday's late-night duel between the Tribe and Red Sox. The Indians complete not only the three-game sweep of the reigning World Series champs, but also the sweep of the home stand overall with their sixth straight win and ninth straight victory at Progressive Field.

With the win and another Tigers loss, the Indians are now well within striking distance of the division leaders at three and a half games back. They are now finally back at the break-even mark at 30-30, which by the way is the same position they were in a year ago after 60 games.

Needless to say, baseball is once again reminding us that it's a 162-game season.

Player of the Game: Indians bullpen (5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 10 K).

Believe me, I thought about this a lot after the game and although Asdrubal Cabrera absolutely deserves the credit for winning the game and ending a long night, I think the Tribe bullpen was the most valuable factor in the victory, considering the fact that they were working short-handed with Cody Allen and Marc Rzepczynski unavailable and that they had no margin for error.

Scott AtchisonNick HagadoneJohn AxfordJosh OutmanBryan Shaw and Carlos Carrasco combined for a shutout effort from the seventh inning and into extra innings all the way to the twelfth up until Cabrera's walk-off blast. Axford, Hagadone and Carrasco were especially impressive given their struggles in the past. Between the three of them, no base runners were allowed other than a hit batter by Carrasco in the eleventh while striking out seven.

Some credit also goes to Terry Francona for his maneuvering in the bullpen in order to make sure Allen and Rzepczynski got much-needed rest.

Kluber's Human Side

Yes, despite the rumor and his robot-like demeanor, Corey Kluber is human and he showed a bit of it on Wednesday against the Red Sox. But when we're saying that a start of six and a third innings with four runs allowed is one of his worst of a year, it only further shows how good of a season Kluber is actually having.

The first five innings were business as usual for Kluber as he worked around base runners and kept Boston off the board. However, in the top of the sixth, David Ortiz got ahold of a fastball down the middle and planted it in the right field seats with authority to put the Sox ahead 2-1 at the time. Fortunately the Indians came right back to take a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the frame.

Now I don't know if it was the long wait in between the sixth and seventh innings while the Indians pushed three runs across, but Kluber's command dropped off a bit in the seventh as he allowed the tying runs to score in the next third of an inning. The bullpen got out of the inning, though, so he walked away with a no-decision.

Not that any of this should be concerning, but it is interesting that for the first time in nearly two months, Kluber lost and wasn't able to regain the upper hand in a start. Aside from the strikeouts being down, the right-hander hit two batters and threw a wild pitch, both of which he had only done twice this year prior to Wednesday.

In a way, maybe this is a good thing for Kluber in the long run. Now some pressure is off and he knows he doesn't have to be perfect in every start.

The Clutch Factor

I was looking over various Indians stats and it may surprise many to know that Michael Brantley is actually the fourth best clutch hitter on this ballclub right now. Heading into play on Wednesday, David Murphy led the team with a .370 batting mark with runners in scoring position this season. Not all that surprising there, but next on the list is actually Michael Bourn at .351 followed by Lonnie Chisenhall at .323 and then Brantley at .321.

Now of the four of them, Dr. Smooth is still the most likely to become an All-Star this season due to his overall play, but these stats just go to show you never really know who's going to be the go-to guys in scoring position from year to year.

Both Murphy and Brantley came through on Wednesday as the Tribe left fielder got it started with an RBI single in the first. Brantley would finish the night 3-for-5 with an RBI. Murphy really came through, as he has many times this season in the bottom of the sixth with a bases-loaded RBI single, which plated two runs.

What's been impressive about the clutch hitting of Brantley, Murphy and Chisenhall, in particular, is how they get it done without trying to do too much.

Brantley has muscled in some more power this season, but he's still perfectly content with a single up the middle with a runner on second and/or third. Muphy's slap-hitting approach has become notorious on this team and his 2-run single on Wednesday was just another example of it as he punched it over the infield into right field. And I can't say enough of how completely turned around Chisenhall's approach has become this season. No longer swinging for the fences and taking what the pitcher gives him.

It will be nice to get Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana healthy and back on track, but at least for now, the offense is making do without them.

Up next: Indians (30-30) vs. Rangers (29-30) @ Globe Life Park. First pitch at 8:05 pm ET (Friday).

The Indians prepare for another long road trip as they travel to Texas on their day off on Thursday for a four-game series against the injury-riddled Rangers. For the first game, Trevor Bauer will take the hill against Rangers ace Yu Darvish. Bauer is coming off a sharp outing against the Rockies where he pitched six innings while allowing only two runs and striking out eight. The right-hander is facing Texas for the first time in his career.

Not surprisingly, Yu Darvish was also dominant in his last start pitching eight shutout innings with a dozen whiffs over in Washington over the weekend. In his brief big league career thus far, Darvish has pitched twice against the Tribe, but has been saddled with a loss in each one despite allowing only five runs (four earned) in 12 innings of work.

On a side note, it will be the first time this season that David Murphy will get to return home and face his former club, something he is excited to do, per his recent comments. However, many of the guys he got to know on that team are either gone or injured.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

Berdj J. Rassam
June 6, 2014 - 12:55 AM EDT
Indians are playing .500 ball so far this season - great at home, and horrible on the road. Bullpen has been problematic - Axford, Salazar...
Hermie13
June 5, 2014 - 5:20 PM EDT
No lineup with Giambi in it is better than a lineup with Santana and/or Swisher in it. Sorry
Walter
June 5, 2014 - 4:05 PM EDT
Tigers got swept by the Blue Jays. Indians are now down to 5 games on loss column. They need a good road trip to get back into contention. Wont be easy in Texas, KC and Boston.
C L Who
June 5, 2014 - 3:45 PM EDT
Hawk, I believe CC is capable of being a plus long reliever and possibly a closer. I also believe there is a negative feed between CC and TF......TF rarely pitches him and CC's confidence falls even while he's not pitching; then when pitching he pitches up (down?) to TF's low expectations. Whatever ACab said to him last night seemed to help. Maybe TF should tell him that too, once in a while?
Hawk1228
June 5, 2014 - 12:07 PM EDT
Andrew I have been an advocate of Carrasco closing before last nights game. And it has been more than one good outing, he has had several since his move to the bullpen this year as well as last year. Some pitchers are just better pitching out of the stretch and in the pen, I feel Carlos arm is better out of the pen and in particular closing. Closing with Carlos lengthens the pen and reduce the innings for Shaw and Allen. We can find arms to pitch more than an inning.
Johnny Manziel
June 5, 2014 - 11:12 AM EDT
No Swisher or Santana equals a better line up offensivley and defensively....please dont rush them back.
Andrew
June 5, 2014 - 11:09 AM EDT
Let's not jump the gun on Carrasco.. it was one good outing and suddenly people want him to be closer. Let me remind all of you that right now we have a pretty dang good one... Cody Allen.
hawk1228
June 5, 2014 - 10:39 AM EDT
A few days back I posted that Carlos Carrasco reminded me of a closer of another time. Jose Mesa great stuff million dollar arm with the mental capacity of a gnat. Tony Pena would go out pop him in the head and he would straighten right up. Did anyone notice Cabrera walk on that mound with fire in his eyes said something to Carlos and 9 straight strikes. Carlos can and could be that guy who closes out games, Has a great fastball and slider.
Matthew
June 5, 2014 - 10:39 AM EDT
Yeah, that bunt was awful. It lowered the run expectancy of the inning by almost 10%. Over-managing at its finest.
Tbone
June 5, 2014 - 10:37 AM EDT
Plus, it was the 9th anniversary of the Indians huge eight-run comeback past the Blue Jays on June 4, 1995 on a two-out, two-run homer by Paul Sorrento in the ninth. Not being melodramatic but that win opened some eyes and turned that season around and the franchise itself for a long time. Maybe we just did it again.... just sayn'
shy
June 5, 2014 - 10:31 AM EDT
"Oh no" . I was more like "Aw ####" Maybe Carlos grew up a little bit last night. Now "wash, rinse, repeat!"
Walter
June 5, 2014 - 10:28 AM EDT
It was also good to see Hagadone have good back to back appearances. Small sample size,but if he has turned the corner that would be huge shot in the arm for bullpen depth.
Tbone
June 5, 2014 - 10:26 AM EDT
That was the first time Carrasco pitched in over a week I believe. Not bad....
Tony
June 5, 2014 - 10:25 AM EDT
I absolutely hate the decision to bunt Chisenhall in the 11th inning. Kipnis gets on with a leadoff walk.....then they bunt one of their best hitters. That's just sleepwalking managing. How about a hit and run with Kipnis and with Chisenhall's rather good contact of late? Or just stealing second outright? Or just letting Chisenhall hit? But bunting him with a guy on first? No way. I could live with the decision a few innings ago with guys on 1st and 2nd and no out....but even that was borderline questionable.
GSon
June 5, 2014 - 10:18 AM EDT
@Hawk: When Carrasco started the 11th, (no one on..no one out) and he plunked Gomes.. my first thought was.. "..oh no.". The bunt by Drew.. showed he doesn't bunt well.. not like Lonnie's beautifully deadened bunt up third base line. CC- Lite then proceeded to mow everyone else down until Droob's heroics..
Hawk1228
June 5, 2014 - 9:54 AM EDT
Nice outing by Carrasco last night, I still believe he has the stuff and makeup to be an excellent closer

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