A mini soap opera episode might be brewing between the division rival Indians and the Detroit Tigers following the Tribe’s Labor Day Massacre Monday at Progressive Field.
A day after the visiting Tigers opened the four-game series by crushing the host 12-1 - and chasing Tribe ace Corey Kluber after 2 2/3 innings - a scoring change benefiting the home team was made that shaved three runs off Kluber’s original season worst five-run outing.
But what makes the change by official scorer Chad Broski such a big deal is that not only did it make a third-inning hit become an error on Indians right fielder Mike Aviles, it took away a hit away from Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera. Thus, the move is likely to elicit an appeal by Detroit that would send the matter to Joe Torre - Major League Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations.
For now, Kluber’s ERA dropped from 2.72 to 2.58 and Cabrera’s batting average dipped to .304. But in the meantime, Aviles passed testing for a possible concussion after making an ill-advised dive for a ball in the first inning Monday. But he didn’t escape harm all together.
“He doesn’t feel great, and he’s got the whiplash symptoms, but he’s ok,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We’ll keep him around to let the doc look at him again and go from there.”
As for Kluber, whom many thought might be hurt or fatiuging as he nears a career-high 200 innings, Tribe pitching coach Mickey Callaway believes the pair has already figured out the problem that’s led to three consecutive losses.
“(Kluber) played catch (Tuesday pregame), stayed a little tall on his backside and felt the difference,” said Callaway, who helped identify Kluber collapsing on his backside and thus getting under the ball during his delivery. “He was on top of the ball and his arm slot was a little higher. He was able to drive the ball and keep the ball down.”
Callaway admitted he’d noticed the slight mechanical issue recently before it became obvious to all, but wasn’t going to make a big deal about it while Kluber was cruising from one victory to another.
“The legs could be tired and you don’t even know it,” Callaway said. “He probably feels great and doesn’t even realize those things could be happening…The tough part with him is we’d been kind of seeing that trend, but he was still dealing. When he goes seven innings, gives up three runs and punches out 10, (it’s not the time to) say anything to a guy yet. Talking about it (Tuesday) after (Monday) night was probably good timing.”