Indians offense provides Kluber rest, Kontos opportunity

Plus more on Jason Kipnis

Alex Hooper
June 20, 2018 - 5:56 pm
Jun 20, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians relief pitcher George Kontos (70) reacts with catcher Yan Gomes (7) in the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Baseball is not a game of optimum rest, but the Cleveland Indians gave themselves some time off on Wednesday in a rout of the Chicago White Sox, with a day off on Thursday to boot.

Because of an 11-0 lead, the American League Central leaders gave their ace a second consecutive short outing. Though the first instance was not under optimal circumstances, allowing an uncharacteristic four runs over five innings, Corey Kluber has only had to throw 161 pitches over his last two outings.

That could be a bit of a relief for the man who was off of the ML lead in innings by 2 1/3 innings entering Wednesday, despite one less start than Justin Verlander at the top.

“Yeah hopefully in the long run there’ll be a benefit to it,” Kluber said. “It’s hard to say immediately, but the idea is to try to ... when the game is sort of out of hand like that, if he has the opportunity to kind of save guys a couple bullets, then why not?”

The rest for the righty was just a cherry on the top of an offensive outbreak, but certainly an addition that rounded out the whole quite nicely. While 12 runs was not necessary due to just how quality Kluber was in the game, seven innings allowing just a hit and a walk, Manager Terry Francona was glad to put more innings in his back pocket.

“Boy, I mean, it seems like every five days you try to come up with maybe something different to say, but my goodness. (Kluber’s) level of consistency is so high that, man, it's just fun to watch. And it's nice. We scored,” he said. “We spread it out. So, you don't have him reaching back going 115. Not that he can't, but it's nice to maybe save an inning here and there, because he'll need it later.”

In Kluber’s stead, the Indians took the opportunity to get a first look at their newest member of the bullpen, former Giants and Pirates reliever George Kontos. The right-hander walked two and struck out three in his 8th inning appearance, which was made to happen by the quality of the team he joined.

“That's a great situation to try to get in a guy a first time,” Francona said. “We got him mainly to, hopefully, to get some right-hand hitters out. And I think the way he pitches, that that could happen. It looks like there's some deception. Cutter, breaking ball.”

Kontos sat in the high-80s, just around his season average, with his fastball. His cutter and slider were his main offerings.

The three White Sox Kontos struck out were all right-handers, while he walked the two lefties he saw.

“There's always two or three right-handers in everybody's lineup and you want somebody that can spin the ball a little bit,” Francona added. “And he's a veteran and he knows how to do it, so we let him face everybody today because of the score. But, I think getting right-hand hitters out, he's got a chance to be pretty effective.”

Flashes of the past

Jason Kipnis has struggled since the start of 2017, whether due to injury or otherwise. Luck has often not been on his side, either.

Hours after Indians President Chris Antonetti said there have still been ‘flashes’ of the two-time All-Star being the player he has been in the past, Kipnis showed those signs again. They were coupled with more bad luck.

The lefty came away from the game 1-for-5, the one being a three-run home run in the 6th that left the bat at 99.3 mph. He also lined out at 91.9 mph and 90.2 mph in the 1st and 4th innings, respectively.

“I do think he's taking more good swings,” Francona said. “Even the lineout today before the home run. I think there's more good swings. I think he looks more confident. It looks like when he swings now there's more conviction in going to get the ball. I think he'll be just fine.”