Remember a few years back when Stephen Strasburg was being called up and he made one of his first starts in Cleveland? The Indians countered with their stud-call up of Carlos Santana and the two went head-to-head on Sunday. It was called Strasburg-Santana Sunday and honestly, I barely remember that the Nationals won or if the Indians even won that series.
What I do remember is that Travis Hafner hit a home run of Strasburg. It was the lone run the Indians scored in the game off Strasburg. The game turned into more of a slug-fest from there, with part of the problem being that David Huff started for the Indians. This game on Sunday, in which Strasburg made his return to Progressive Field, and from the disabled list, was yet another one-run effort. This was a bit of a different type of game, and of course, outcome.
NATIONALS - 0 | INDIANS - 2
W: Corey Kluber (5-4)
L: Stephen Strasburg (3-6)
S: Vinnie Pestano (1)
Funny thing is that the last time out, Strasburg went just a tad over five innings, only gave up two hits and struck out eight, but walked five hitters.
What did he do yesterday? He went five innings, gave up one run off one hit, struck out four, but walked four. And David Huff wasn't the guy he pitched against.
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It was Corey Kluber, who pitched his second straight eight inning masterpiece. This one a little more tip-toe like than what he did earlier against Texas, but the best thing about it? He didn't walk a single hitter, and he got out of several tight jams late. He was, clutch.
After giving up a double to Saturday's jerkface Anthony Rendon, Kluber would go through the next few innings with little excitement. He got a double play, struck some dudes out, bailed his team out from an error, and was just efficient. Then came the sixth, which was the first of his three exciting innings. In the sixth he gave up two singles to lead off the inning, only to come back and get a Ryan Zimmerman strikeout and an Adam LaRoche double play.
In the seventh a crap double from Jayson Werth and hitting Ian Desmond put him right back in the same spot. With pinch hitter Steve Lombardozzi bunting one up in the air, it looked like Kluber was going to find his way into getting a quick out and maybe two, but the dive on the popped up bunt came up empty and the bases were loaded. No problem, this weird named Jhonatan (Jhonny is that you?) Solano hits a rocket to Reynolds, who catches the out and gets Lombardozzi off the base for two outs, Bernadina grounds out and you have another big escape.
The eighth was a little more subdued, but what does it say about Terry Francona's confidence in him to send him out there with 102 pitches and having just pitched in two stressful innings, in a one run game?
A whole heck of a lot.
"He was so good all day," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "From pitch one, he was aggressive with his fastball. I don't think he even threw a changeup today. Even versus left-handers, he just was in attack mode. That was really fun to watch. I wish we could have had about five [runs] just to give a little cushion, but that was really fun to watch."
National's hitter Jayson Werth said it was "top five stuff" that the Nationals have seen all year. And what's that saying if he didn't even utilize his changeup that much and just threw them fastballs? It says his fastball is really good. And do you want to know why?
He has command of it.
"Once we got into those jams," Kluber said, "I was just trying to take it pitch by pitch and not get ahead of myself and get too far into the inning, just worry about executing each pitch and pitch to the situation. I'm not out there trying to ramp it up or strike guys out in a certain situation or anything."
Shocker, a pitcher with good command of his fastball having success. Do you want to know why he got out of those jams? Because he threw strikes. He didn't top toe around those guys. He threw strikes where he wanted to throw them. Sometimes they got hits, but more times than not, you're going to have success when you throw the pitch where you want. The reason he was able to go into the eighth despite those two jams?
The reason he was able to go so deep, while striking out eight hitters?
Remember that strikeout per walk ratio I was boasting about a few weeks back in regards to Kluber? Whaddaya say we check up on that, even though he's still not qualified?
After his start against Boston, it was 6.14 which would have been good enough for fifth in the majors, and while it has gone down, his 5.41 strikeout to walk ratio would be good enough for seventh. Still better than the likes of Matt Harvey, Cliff Lee, Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman, CC Sabathia, and Chris Sale.
His walks per nine innings? 1.33, good enough for seventh again. His strikeouts per nine? 7.2 and he's averaging a strikeout for every inning pitched. Adam Wainright and Yu Darvish on different levels right now with whatever it is they are doing. Wainwright isn't so much racking up the K's, but being incredibly efficient and going deep into games. Darvish on the other hand is just racking them up.
But right now. Is there many hotter strikeout pitchers than Corey Kluber?
John McDonald made his first start for the Indians since rejoining the team. He made an error at third base, playing there because Reynolds moved over to first with Swisher sitting. Also was 0-for-2 with a walk, but one of his outs was a hard hit liner to left that Bernadina made a great play on to track down. That being said, if Swish is out longer, the Indians can't really have Johnny Mac as their regular third baseman.
Not to be outdone of course, Mark Reynolds had an error of his own. Again, it didn't hurt because Kluber was amazing, but Reynolds simply missed catching a ball. It was ruled a single and error, because the runner advanced to second on the missed catch, but that kind of blatant missing is not going to cut it.
Jason Kipnis really worked to get that initial run in the fourth inning. After reaching safely on the walk he stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw. That of course set up a one-single from Carlos Santana (off Strasburg, imagine that) that gave the Indians the only lead they would need on the day.
Kipnis came back later on in the eighth by knocking in Michael Bourn from third with a sac-fly. That opportunity was created by Mike Aviles' sacrifice bunt. Aviles is doing a good job wherever Tito puts him, but the way Kipnis is hitting, it may make sense hitting him third with Aviles up top, especially if Swish is out.
Random Rundown? Try, Injury Rundown...
Last week, Terry Francona said they don't have a timetable for the return of Lonnie Chisenhall and his return to the majors. That may not matter anymore. Despite saying they want him to go down to get right and work out everything to the point where he doesn't need to go back, an injury may force their hand.
Nick Swisher sat on Sunday, a day after it was reported he could be headed to the disabled list due to a shoulder injury. Francona had no update on Swisher and said he didn't expect him to play today, but that they would update everyone on his condition. Swisher's issues stem from his fifth inning at-bat on Saturday.
"I'm grinding," said Swisher, who has started every game since May 23. "I want to be in there every day, regardless of what I got going on. Obviously, it's starting to physically show a little bit. I've been kind of battling this shoulder thing all year, which has been super frustrating for me because I've never had something like this before."
Grinding. Okay. Anyway, Swisher said he doesn't have that "thump" in his swing. Something that strikes me is that I remember remarking how much he played in his career. There hasn't been a year he has had less than 131 games played in and that was his first full season. You could count on him missing no more than 10-15 games a year. In 68 games he's missed 7 so far. So despite the earlier battle with the shoulder, the baby, he's still on track. If he hits the disabled list though, that will pretty much dent that trend.
Chris Perez is back in action after a long layoff from his own shoulder strain. Perez was back around the park, working out with the Indians this past week and could be right back around this week after his successful rehab outing with the Captains on Sunday.
Perez tossed one scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one to start the game for the Captains. Perez was scheduled to throw one inning or 25 pitches. It may not be long before he's back now as all he had to do was knock off the rust.
"No pain or anything -- just a little rusty," Perez said Saturday. "We'll see how it goes tomorrow. If I throw like I did yesterday, I'll probably need another appearance ... I wasn't very sharp yesterday. It felt like my first appearance of the year, in Spring Training."
Judging his outing from afar, the two hits may not be up to his standards, but who knows. He may be tired of all the commercials on SportstimeOhio. What he did admit is that while he wasn't hurt, he wasn't himself after May 11th when he had some discomfort. It all came ahead of course in Boston when things broke down, but we should see a fixed Perez when he returns.
He also mentioned, like when Pestano was returning, a change to his routine, now that he's an older player and things don't work as well as they do without any care.
"Hot tub, stretching, a bunch of stuff, nothing nobody else doesn't do," Perez said. "It's kind of different for me, because I don't pitch until later in the game, so some of it's actually in the bullpen. I'm going to start doing, you know, band exercises and stuff just to make sure I'm warmed up so I don't get these strains anymore."
Pestano earned his first save in Perez's absence, his first real opportunity to do so. And the first save for the Indians in 21 games. It may be the last for him depending on how quickly the Indians move to activate him. Vinnie was a little irritated at Saturday's loss, which saw a huge comeback to tie the game wasted because of a solo shot he surrendered to Anthony Rendon. Then again, had the defense come up with that foul pop up, the inning would have been over.
But it didn't, and Pestano took blame for not being able to get the pitch and showed a little frustration in the way he's he's been pitching.
Vinnie came through on Sunday though, so hopefully that edges into his confidence and he can go out there and be regular Vin-man from now on.
The Indians hope to have Asdrubal Cabrera back, not as soon, but real soon. Cabrera is on track with his rehab process, progressing nicely through his quadriceps strain.
Cabrera has always been a a guy who's followed his injury return timelines. He's been a quick healer. Hopefully it's the case here, as he's already two weeks out from the injury, and could be back before the end of the month is over.
Also on the active trail is Zach McAllister, the right-hander who hit the DL at the turn of the month due to a finger sprain is playing catch. McAllister is hoping it isn't very long, but as he noted, he can't control what happens. The Indians need him back though, so hopefully, the sooner, the better.
No surgery for Lou Marson, as he now begins a long rehab process, that will include him continuing to sit for awhile. We won't see Marson for a bit. But that won't stop the Indians from keeping Carlos Santana as fresh as possible, and it all has to do with the play of Marson's replacement, Yan Gomes.
Carlos Carrasco will be starting today against Kansas City as his suspension has run out. Hopefully he doesn't hit anyone tonight. What he did do while waiting it out was throw a 80-pitch simulated game on Thursday in the Carolina's with the Mudhens. That pushes Ubaldo Jimenez back, who asked for an extra day. You give him that extra day the way he's been going lately.