Stephanie Storm’s six final thoughts about the Indians 6-3 win over the host Tampa Bat Rays at Tropicana Field.
1) It was a good win for the Indians, even if it came with a struggle. Corey Kluber pitched well and the Indians offense made Rays starter Jake Odorizzi work for his career-high 11 strikeouts, then quickly got to work against the Rays bullpen once he was gone.
2) Asdrubal Cabrera may or may not have had a cycle Thursday, but there’s no doubt that the Indians shortstop has busted out of his early season slump. Cabrera had four hits Thursday and added three more Friday, including a sixth-inning home run that marked his eighth hit (including five of the extra-base variety) over his pervious nine at bats. Just how well is he seeing the ball right now? Consider that before his current hot stretch, Cabrera had hit just five extra-base hits in his previous 87 at-bats.
3) Mike Aviles has done an outstading job stepping in for the injured Jason Kipnis (right quad strain). Not only is he an undselfish team guy who gets his role, he’s producing in place of the All-Star Kipnis. Consider that Aviles chose to sacrifice bunt two runners into scoring position in the sixth even after the bunt sign had been taken off. Then, he goes out and hits a three-run home run to left field in the sevnth that capped the Indians five-run inning.
4) Aviles is playing so well, after the game Kipnis joked in a tweet that when he comes back he’ll ewnd up being a glorifed pinch hitter when he comes back. Aviles said he and Kipnis traded a couple text messages after the game and when Kipnis said as much to Aviles, Aviles joked “who said you’re coming back?” Gotta love a guy with a humble attitude, solid bat, good glove and sense of humor – whose not even an everyday starter.
5) Alright, now on to the not so good part. With the Indians owning a four-run lead entering the ninth inning, embattled closer John Axford came on to get a little work. But after getting the first outs quickly via strikeout, he couldn’t finish off the Rays. Instead, he allowed a run then loaded the bases with two doubles and a walk before being releived by set-up man Cody Allen, who got the job done to earn his first save of the season.
6) Afterwards, Axford agreed he’s experiencing command issues, but also brought up feeling “fatigued.” That’s not a good sign for a closer a little over a month into the season. Good thing for the Indians, they have their answer in Allen. It may take a little more time for the Indians to turn that way being how patient manager Terry Francona can be with struggling players. But if Axford’s issues continue, the young Allen ought to be next in line for the closer’s job.