'Human' Corey Kluber just one part of Freaky Friday at Progressive Field

There were balks, there were errors, there were shirts

Alex Hooper
June 15, 2018 - 11:08 pm
Jun 15, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes (7) talks with starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) as they leave the field during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – It would be plenty within a sportswriter’s ego to think that two sportswriters showing up in the exact same shirt would shape the events of an unrelated baseball game, but something was definitely off on Friday night at Progressive Field.

For the seemingly inhuman Corey Kluber, there may not have been a rift in the atmosphere, but even he admitted something was up. The right-hander allowed more than three runs for the first time since July 29, 2017, ending a streak of 26 starts of three-or-fewer earned.

For the first time in over a month, the reigning Cy Young winner walked a batter, a 4th-inning free pass to Eduardo Escobar. Kluber’s 46 1/3 inning streak was the longest such run in the Majors since former Indians starter Bartolo Colon went 48 1/3 during the 2015 season with the Mets.

It was the culmination of something more, physically if not cosmically, that led to Kluber allowing four earned on two home runs.

“Just out of whack a little bit mechanically,” he admitted. “Obviously didn’t make good pitches to a few guys. Made some mistakes and they took advantage of it.”

The outing was the first time Kluber looked fallible in a regular season game in almost a calendar year, and apparently Manager Terry Francona decided he did not want to watch this seemingly unbelievable event unfold.

Despite only 65 pitches on the night, the skipper lifted his ace after five. The assumption was immediately worst-case, the league’s leader in innings pitched leaving with such a low pitch count.

Furthermore, Kluber had also been involved in a wonky double-play attempt where a Francisco Lindor throw tailed away from the pitcher covering first, forcing the righty to lunge. The next batter, Brian Dozier, plated the would-be winning run with a two-run homer.

It proved to be the former case, not the latter, for Kluber’s exit. Depending on how much one believes in a good conspiracy theory, it was either a reason to exhale or a veiled lie covering the truth of a soon-to-be chronic back issue.

 “Oh, I think he could have kept going,” Francona said. “We lean on him so heavily and we plan on a lot more that on a night when he had a couple misfires that proved he’s human that why make him go out for two more and run his pitch count up to 100, where we’re down four and it’s not like we’re not trying to win but save some of his bullets because if we want to get where we want to go, he’s going to have a major part in that so on one night when he didn’t command his best, try to give him a little break.”

Kluber also maintained that the awkward play at first did not force a physical issue. He had already given up a solo shot to the red-hot Eddie Rosario in the 2nd, and issued his streak-breaking walk a play before the attempt at a Twin-killing.

Ironically, Francona used some of his pregame availability to speak on the importance of not showing your hand if a pitcher feels they are off their game, something he used Kluber to illustrate.

Kluber admitted that it was indeed just one of those days.

“I think there are days where you feel off but you’re able to make the correction and get things back to where you want them,” Kluber said. “And then there’s days where something feels off. You try different things and your body for whatever reason that day, you can’t find that feeling or that delivery that you want. There are different cases, obviously, you’re always trying to—if it does feel off—adjust to it and get the job done.”

The 32-year-old was not the only star to have an uncharacteristic, near-implausibly bad day. Francisco Lindor picked up an error on the aforementioned Kluber-at-first play, and another error on a routine double-play ball in the 6th, all in an 0-for-5 night.

Dan Otero balked in a run. With a b. Jose Ramirez was called out on a video review that clearly showed he was safe.

Things were weird on this Freaky Friday.

Call it a day.

Do your laundry.