|W: C. Kluber (2-4) L: F. Liriano (6-12)|
Game two of the Indians three-game series against the Chicago White Sox kicked off Tuesday afternoon. On the surface, the game did not appear as if it would favor the Tribe considering the White Sox were sending left-hander Francisco Liriano to the mound, and we all know how the Indians fare against left-handers. In an effort to maximize their offensive output, the Indians stacked their lineup with six switch-hitting or right-handed bats. The Tribe’s approach paid off as the Indians were able to take advantage and build an early 4-0 lead against the Sox. The early offensive burst was enough to knock Liriano out of the game, but the Indians unfortunately were unable to muster any offense for the game’s remainder. While the White Sox did eventually crawl back into the contest, the Indians were able to hold on for a 4-3 win to improve to 64-91. Chicago’s loss coupled with the Detroit Tigers 2-0 win over the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night means that Chicago and Detroit are now tied atop the AL Central.
Russ Canzler: 1B, Indians: Don’t look now, but Canzler has raised his average to .296, hit three home runs and driven in 10 runs, all in just 20 games. The plate discipline has been as advertised (2 BB/13 K), but I’m really starting to think that there might be a spot for Canzler on next year’s team; at least as a right-handed option off the bench. On Tuesday, the right-handed hitter finished 3-for-4 with a home run, double and a RBI. At the very least, the 20 games that Canzler has played do seem to indicate that he can be no worse an option than Shelley Duncan. His home run Tuesday was also his second in as many games.
- Canzler’s grand audition: I already mentioned how good Canzler looked on Tuesday, and there are definitely reasons to believe he will be a part of next year’s team. One other aspect to like about Canzler is how he seems to immediately pull the trigger when he sees a pitch to his liking. Obviously, there is a yin and a yang to this tendency, but it certainly worked Tuesday as Canzler saw only eight pitches in the contest, yet he recorded three hits.
- Kluber picks it up: It’s been hard to really judge Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber since he joined the rotation. He’s been somewhat of a mixed bag, but he put together his best effort at the Major League level Tuesday. The right-hander went seven innings and allowed just two earned runs. He seems to have gotten better down the stretch, which could bode well for the young pitcher as he continues to audition for a spot in next year’s rotation.
- Choo gets a pair off a lefty: Shin-Soo Choo only collected two hits for the Indians in the game, but they both came off of the lefty Liriano. Those two hits have to be looked at as somewhat of an achievement considering that Choo has managed a futile .183 line against left-handers this year.
- Pestano rebounds: Just one day after allowing a three-run home run to Adam Dunn, Tribe setup man Vinnie Pestano came back with a very nice performance. The right-hander did allow one hit, but he needed just 12 pitches to make it through the eighth inning to allow Chris Perez to have an opportunity at the save.
- Role of spoilers: The White Sox obviously would love to take care of business against the Indians and go ahead with their plans to claim the AL Central, but the Tribe has other plans in order. The Indians’ hopes for a division title ended a long time ago but perhaps the team can continue to play spoiler in these final few games. They have one more opportunity in Chicago today before closing the season out against the team next week.
- Pitching, pitching, pitching: From top to bottom, the Indians had some very solid pitching in Tuesday’s contest. Aside from Chris Perez having some issues in the ninth inning, the Indians pitching staff was outstanding, The team followed the same blueprint that had been so successful in the early going this year: quality start, Pestano in the eighth, followed by Perez shutting the door in the ninth.
- Offensive offense: Yes, the Indians did manage to take a 4-0 lead following a three-run fourth inning, but aside from that, the offense was pretty much inconsistent. The Indians were unable to score any more runs for the game’s remainder, which could have really come in handy as Chicago continued to chip away at the lead. The team should be thankful that they were able to score the amount of runs that they did, otherwise we would probably be looking at a very different outcome.
- Shaky Chris Perez: It had been more than five days since Perez had last pitched, but still, his scary performance really cannot be excused. In earning his 37th save, Perez threw 20 pitches (9 strikes), allowed a solo home run to Paul Konerko and walked two batters. Imagine if one of those walks came before the home run? Perez was not at his best by any means, though he ultimately did get the job done, which is really all that counts in the end.
- Clumsy Cabrera: Asdrubal Cabrera recorded his 19th error of the season in Tuesday’s contest after the shortstop recorded 15 in all of last year. The error did not come back to bite the Indians or anything, but that high number has to decrease. The Indians are just not a team that is good enough to consistently overcome mental miscues.
The Indians will conclude their series with the White Sox tonight at 8:05 ET. Indians right-hander Justin Masterson is scheduled to pitch for the Tribe while left-hander Hector Santiago will be throwing for the White Sox. The Indians will then return home for the season’s final home stand with series against the Royals and White Sox, respectively.