Twelve final thoughts for the 12 runners the Indians stranded in a 4-3, historic-in-a-way loss to the White Sox.
1. The one thing you cannot do as a closer is give up walks. John Axford had a bit of a problem with walks earlier in the year but it wasn't talked about as much because he was still converting his saves. If the ball Dayan Viciedo hit for the game-winner doesn't get caught up in the wind and ends in a flyout, nobody really remembers Axford walked two hitters before it.
2. But he did, and a closer who walks too many guys will eventually get beat. Axford has been terrific but with a minor control problem. He's nine-for-11 in save chances this year and is still one of the more relievers in the league.
3. He also owned up to the mistakes, saying, "Those walks, putting guys on, giving them free passes, that's something I definitely need to cut out. Today, I just couldn't find it." He later said he'd "chew" on it tonight, maybe watch some film on it, then come back tomorrow like it didn't happen. That's exactly how most managers will say closers need to handle blowing saves. Many have said you identify the problem when it happens, try to fix it and move on the next day.
4. Axford has handled both his blown saves much better than a former Cleveland closer.
5. Corey Kluber can be scary good when he brings his "A" stuff. Eight innings, career-high 13 strikeouts and he broke a franchise record of seven consecutive strikeouts held by some guy named Bob Feller and a few others. Even his one mistake, a home run ball to Jose Abreu, Francona said wasn't a bad pitch.
6. Kluber might not fit the profile of an ace, but he's becoming one of the most reliable pitchers in the league. He's a very strong No. 2 at this point.
7. How about George Kottaras? First player in franchise history to homer in his first two at-bats with the team, and he actually did it with his first two swings with the team.
8. Even more remarkable: Kottaras was 2-for-25 this season at Triple-A Columbus. He had as many hits in a month of Triple-A baseball as he did in a 45-minute span on Sunday in Cleveland. And both of his hits at Triple-A were singles.
9. But the number that overshadowed Kluber's 13 and Kottaras' 2 was 12: the number of Indians left on base. The Tribe had a few rally chances, but they often came with two outs and the hits didn't come when needed. Lonnie Chisenhall (3-for-4, RBI) and Kottaras were the only bright spots.
10. One of the best ways of predicting a better-than-normal year for a player is when he's in a contract season. That is not happening with Asdrubal Cabrera. At all. He's now hitting .218 with one home run in 31 games. He has 22 strikeouts compared to 24 hits. Today, he left five men on base by himself, going 0-for-4 in those situations with three strikeouts.
11. Cabrera is hitting .266 with nobody on base. With runners on: .176. With runners in scoring position: .185. The only time he reached base today was with nobody on base, when he walked.
12. A lot of people will say Axford ruined Kluber's great start. The Indians had 12 men on base and only brought three home, only one in a runner-on-base situation. That's the bigger culprit.