After taking five of six games on the road in Minnesota and Chicago, the Indians traveled back home to Cleveland on Tuesday to take on the West leading Astros for a three-game stretch to face the bellwether of the AL in the early goings.
Dropping game one after a strong performance by former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, the Tribe rebounded on Wednesday night for a 7-6 win that took everything the Wahoo’s had to finish out.
1. Allen Leaves No Doubt– Slamming the doors for a four out save against the heart of the injury-plagued Houston lineup, Allen notched his fourth save of the season and struck out a pair to raise his season total to an eye-popping 17 K’s in eight innings of work. With a 1.13 ERA so far, Allen has allowed just one run this season and has been as sharp as possible in his outings.
2. Bullpen’s Impact– The only pitcher more impressive in the Indians’ pen this season has been Andrew Miller, but he isn’t the only guy who has turned heads this season. Building off his work in the 2016 post season, Miller has a 0.00 ERA in 10 innings of use this season and masterfully worked out of jams, including a bases-loaded one out situation on Wednesday after an error by first baseman Carlos Santana. But Miller isn’t the only one in the pen with a 0.00 ERA as Nick Goody, Terry Francona’s go-to guy for early relief, has been a big bright spot early on. Match that with the efficiency of Boone Logan and Bryan Shaw this season and the Tribe bullpen should continue to keep games out of reach with the lead late into ballgames.
3. Counter Punches– Jumping on Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. for three runs in the first, the Indians gave starter Trevor Bauer, who was 5-0 lifetime against the Astros coming in, a lead to work with. Against a Houston team averaging around four runs per game and depleted from the injury bug, the Astros just kept coming back. Three times in the game the Astros trailed, but pulled within a run as the Tribe needed clutch hitting to come through. Having a big day to aid the team was Michael Brantley with an RBI double in the first and a clutch single in the fifth to score Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor. Fitting in nicely at the leadoff spot still, Santana’s RBI double in the sixth scored Jason Kipnis and Abraham Almonte to push the Tribe lead to 7-4. Despite bleeding in another two runs on Shaw’s watch, the Indians hung on.
4. Sloppy Defense– Over the past three games, the Indians have slipped from one of the best defensive teams in the league to a pedestrian group. Committing seven errors since Sunday, the Tribe have stumbled from fourth best just a week ago to 19th with 14 errors out of the AL Central leaders. Still very early, the no. 1 defensive team in the league is Central foe Kansas City, who sits at the basement with a 7-14 record and losers of their last seven games.
5. Kluber for the Rubber Match– No one else you’d rather see out on the hill for the Tribe than ace Corey Klubler. Fresh off a complete game three-hitter against Chicago, Kluber will face off against Mike Fiers (0-1 5.40) with first pitch at 6:10.