CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – The beauty of the Indians pitching staff over the past three games has been that they do not need a whole lot of run support. Considering they have gone 4-4 in a stretch where the offense is producing 19 runs over 8 games, the timing has been appreciated to say the least.
Following back-to-back shutouts from Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger, ace Corey Kluber was not on his best form. In those past two days, it was the pitching that made up for a lack of hitting, on Sunday it was an offense stepping up for a pitcher that usually makes things easy for them.
Kluber allowed three earned runs over seven innings, the third time he has allowed three earned in his last 11 starts, and the fourth time since coming off of the disabled list on June 1st.
Sitting at exactly 100 pitches following the 7th inning, Manager Terry Francona said he was not going to send Kluber out for the 8th regardless of the score. Luckily for Francona and Kluber’s stat-line, left fielder Austin Jackson homered to right field to make the right-hander the pitcher of record.
“It’s nice to pick him up. Not that he pitched bad, he gave up three. But the two-run homer, it’s nice to see. That’s two games in a row where they come back and score when he’s out of the game. If anybody deserves it, it’s him.”
Jackson has had a knack for turning in big moments just at the right time, with a game-tying single that led to a Yan Gomes walk-off home run over the Colorado Rockies on August 8th. The 30-year old’s latest clutch moment was all Francona needed for his bullpen combo of Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen to shut the door.
Despite multiple trips to the disabled list, Jackson came into the day slashing .307/.381/.471 over 51 games, reminiscent of his career-year in 2012. That year, the speedy outfielder was able to play 137 games.
“He’s been a huge part of this team, and I’m sure he’ll continue to be, but it’s not just one side,” Kluber said. “It’s both offensively and defensively, and I think he’s shown when he’s healthy, he’s got a lot left.”
The veteran has also moved into the team lead in pitches per plate appearance, putting up those gaudy slash lines while seeing and average of 4.39 pitches over 176 trips.
“He’s had so many good at-bats,” Francona added. “He kind of pulls his hands in and hits the home run. He’s been a blessing for us.”
Lonnie Chisenhall returned to the diamond on Sunday in a rehab game with Double-A Akron as he recovers from a calf strain he sustained in early July.
Chisenhall was the Rubberducks’ designated hitter for six innings against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, singling in three at-bats.
The left-hander was placed on the disabled list on July 14th, five days after leaving a game against the Detroit Tigers. He was slashing .305/.376/.578 with a team-leading 51 RBI at the time of the injury.
Reports say Chisenhall will play innings at his original position, third base, while on assignment in order to maximize the acquisition of incumbent right fielder Jay Bruce.