Offense shut down in loss as Kluber exits early

After scoring one run in first, Indians held hitless until ninth

April 3rd, 2019

CLEVELAND -- When the bats are as cold as Cleveland’s have been through the first five games of the season, a 3 1/3-inning, six-run outing by ace Corey Kluber leaves very little opportunity to walk away with a victory.

The Indians’ offense started to show signs of coming together in the ninth inning of their 8-3 loss to the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field, but it was far too late. Carlos Santana got the Indians on the board in the first inning on an RBI single to right field, but the Tribe’s bats were then completely shut down by Carlos Rodon, who went six innings, and Cleveland didn’t record a hit again until the ninth inning when Santana picked up his second hit before Hanley Ramirez launched his second homer of the season.

“His breaking ball really gave us a tough time,” said Indians manager Terry Francona, who signed a two-year extension on Wednesday. “We’ve seen that before. We’ve had games where we’ve done better, but the breaking ball really got us -- he’s got enough fastball to go with it, and it really did give us fits.”

Through 45 innings of the 2019 season, the Tribe’s offense has tallied a run in just seven of those frames thus far, two of which came on Wednesday. The team has scored 13 runs overall. In addition, the Indians have hit an MLB-worst .160 this season and have struck out 58 times, which sets a franchise record through the first five games. The previous mark was set in 2009 and '10, when the team was fanned 46 times in that span.

“We have a very good, talented team,” Santana said. “I know we aren't hitting well right now, but it's a long season. We're fighting. Any day, any game. And we'll see what happens later. Right now, we have to rely on younger players and we're fighting. We're fighting. Tomorrow is a new series and we'll see what happens.”

Kluber roughed up
In his second start of the year, Kluber labored through 3 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks while striking out four. In the first, Kluber walked Yoan Moncada and gave up back-to-back singles to Yonder Alonso and Eloy Jimenez to load the bases before walking in a run for the first time in his career. He then allowed an RBI single and a two-run double to Jose Abreu in the second and fourth, respectively.

“I think that obviously I didn’t feel normal out there, and the results weren’t very good, so you kind of go back and dissect it, and I think that I kind of found what was off,” Kluber said. “So just like every other start whether it was good of bad, I’ll use these next four days ... and hopefully get to a spot where it feels better next time out and give our team a better chance to win.”

“I told someone after he came out that I feel bad for the next team that has to face him, because he’s probably going to show up pretty hard,” Rodon said. “That’s a special arm.”

The Tribe’s ace had experienced great success against the White Sox prior to Wednesday’s outing, having gone 9-0 with a 1.81 ERA in his last 11 starts against them, dating back to the start of the 2016 season.

“First pitch of the game is hit for a base hit and he’s pitching out of the stretch,” Francona said of Kluber. “He never found a comfort zone. He scattered a lot of his fastballs, put him in some tough counts. The hope is is that he’ll find it. One, because you want him to find it and give us a chance to win. And two, to not go through our entire bullpen. So at least he got far enough where you don’t have to make a roster move, things like that.”

Santana stays hot
The offense may be cold, but Santana has been quite the opposite, hitting .471 with five RBIs on the year. Remove his bat and the rest of the team has hit a combined .133.

“Right now, I feel comfortable,” the 32-year-old said. “My body feels comfortable. Mentally, I feel strong. I know it's the start of the season. It's a long season. I have to keep it up.”