Ten final thoughts for a 5-1 Indians win that, thanks to Corey Kluber, took only 2:15.
1. This was the Kluber was the Indians were waiting for all year. He was just about perfect Thursday—he pounded the strike zone, he induced a ton of ground balls. Had it not been for an error on Nick Swisher on a very easy play, it would have been a complete-game shutout. This was exactly what a Kluber outing is supposed to look like.
2. It was the first complete game of his career. After the game he couldn't even tell reporters when his last one was at any level. He's the first Indians pitcher to throw a complete game with at least 11 strikeouts and no walks or earned runs since Len Barker's perfect game in 1981.
3. Basically, you could argue that no Indians pitcher since May of 1981 has had an outing as efficient as Kluber's. Some have been better, but not more efficient.
4. Thursday is why Kluber is a SABR darling, among that crowd. He attacks the strike zone, doesn't walk anyone and gets ground balls.
5. The bullpen has been among the best in baseball but considering the Indians didn't have a day off, at least them giving them a free day is a nice boost right before a West-Coast swing.
6. Carlos Santana actually used his bat today. He had a double and another fly-ball out to deep left-center field. Said Francona, "That's good. If you stay in the middle of the field, good things will happen."
7. David Murphy had another hit to the opposite field against a lefty with the bases loaded. Even when the guy is supposed to get out, he "waffles" a hit to left, as Francona said. Francona said it's Murphy's great hands that allow him to go the other way, even when almost off balance. He came through again Thursday. He and Brantley have been the two most reliable non-bullpen players so far.
8. The Indians are now 11-11 and just won three-of-four over the Royals, who most picked to finish ahead of Cleveland. They're 1.5 games behind Detroit for the AL Central lead. But by the sound of sports-talk radio, the Tribe sound to be 1-11. It's not all sunshine in Cleveland, but goodness.
9. The two major question marks are still the two young starters, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. Justin Masterson, Kluber and Zach McAllister have stabilized. The bullpen is terrific. The bats are starting to hit. It's amazing that how far the Indians go could be up to those two.
10. Carrasco gets the start Friday. Salazar not long after that. If the Indians can get more out of the back of the rotation, the Indians and Tigers can separate themselves.