Eighteen final thoughts on where the Indians go from here if David Murphy and Nick Swisher are headed to the disabled list.
1. Outfielder Murphy didn’t know if his sore right side is an oblique strain, but he will find out either Sunday morning in New York or during Monday’s off day in Cleveland. Murphy is unfamiliar with this type of injury and said while it had bothered him for about a week, he thought it would come around with treatment.
2. “I’ve had plenty of times in my career where my hamstring or quad or groin haven’t felt great, but there’s ways to kind of compensate. Then all of a sudden you wake up one day and they’re completely better,” Murphy said. “You get in the training room and you do a little treatment. That’s what I was hoping would happen with this.”
3. Losing Murphy to the 15-day disabled list would be a blow to the Indians’ chances of getting one of the American League’s two wild cards. Going into Saturday’s games, Murphy was second in the AL with a .386 average with runners in scoring position. The Indians have to hope Murphy came out of the game before his injury got to the point of the one that kept second baseman Jason Kipnis out for a month and is still limiting him now.
4. Mike Aviles replaced Murphy in left field in the sixth inning. The Indians hope they will have center fielder Michael Bourn back from his rehab assignment in a week or so, but Bourn won’t play every day after recurring hamstring issues that have plagued him since spring training. Michael Brantley, who has moved from left to center in Bourn’s absence, also has tired legs.
5. Outfield candidates at Triple-A Columbus include Carlos Moncrief (.274, 10 homers, 57 RBI), Tyler Holt (.311, 15 RBI), Matt Carson (.256, eight homers, 26 RBI) and Elliot Johnson (.247, four homers, 30 RBI). Holt has been up and down with the Indians this season, most recently optioned to the Clippers on Tuesday. Johnson was last seen with the Indians on May 3, when he was designated for assignment. (The clubhouse music would certainly improve if Johnson returned with his loaded iPad.) Johnson was a spring training favorite, but the Indians might prefer to go with a younger player now.
6. Manager Terry Francona said the Indians also had to discuss Swisher’s “barking” right knee. Designated hitter/outfielder Swisher has been on the DL once this season with a hyperextended left knee and had shots in both in late May. Swisher, 33, has been limping around the clubhouse and hinted that he’d been dealing with injury issues when I talked to him Friday.
7. Swisher is batting only .208, so another trip to the DL might be a relief for the Tribe and for Swisher’s aching knees, despite what he’s costing the Indians with his four-year, $56 million contract.
8. If the Indians merely want a designated hitter, they can recall first baseman Jesus Aguilar, hitting .282 with 15 homers and 65 RBI at Columbus. But they like Carlos Santana’s play at first base, so he will get the bulk of the playing time there, forcing Aguilar to sit perhaps more than the front office would like.
9. Ryan Raburn was called on to take over for Swisher in right in the sevent inning Saturday, but he’s hitting just .205.
10. Corey Kluber may have only last six innings against the Yankees, but every performance is special to watch. Kluber threw 109 pitches, 72 for strikes in his shortest outing since July 11. “That’s not like him. Normally we’re wearing sneakers down there on the days he pitches,” closer Cody Allen said of the bullpen.
11. Kluber said he enjoyed pitching at Yankee Stadium for the first time. “It’s cool to pitch here, even though it’s new Yankee Stadium it’s still Yankee Stadium. You’ve got Monument Park out there, all the history and stuff. It’s got that aura that not many other places have,” he said.
12. Kluber’s most impressive inning was the sixth, when Derek Jeter beat out a single to third and Jacoby Ellsbury blooped one over shortstop Jose Ramirez’s head that three Indians failed to get to. Kluber came back to strike out the side, getting Carlos Beltran looking and Chase Headley and Stephen Drew swinging.
13. “The one inning, they get a swinging-bunt single. The ball that falls between short and left, and then he just gets right after it,” Francona said. “That was really impressive."
14. “I don't think he pitched any different really than he has the last couple outings,” Francona said. “That's just a veteran lineup. They either fouled pitches off or got some deep counts, so he had some 20-pitch innings as opposed to maybe some quick ones. But, every time they had runners in scoring position, I think they had nine, and he had seven strikeouts.” Kluber struck out 10 on the day, giving him seven double-digit strikeout games this season. That’s only been done by six Indians pitchers, with Dennis Eckersley the last in 1976.
15. Kluber didn’t seem fazed by the fact that the Yankees made him grind.
16. “That’s historically kind of their approach,” he said. “Knowing they’re more patient than a lot of teams we face. I just stick to the game plan. The goal is to throw strikes and get ahead in the count, although in some instances I fell behind.”
17. In the fourth inning, Jeter was retired on an unassisted play at first, then Kluber gave up a double to the right field corner by Ellsbury. Afterward, trainer James Quinlan came out to check on Kluber.
18. “When I was running over to first I rolled my ankle and little bit. I was stretching it and James saw me stretching it and he wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong,” Kluber said.