Kluber bounces back; Indians edge D-Backs, 3-2
Tribe leaves Arizona riding high with another win
Player of the Game: Corey Kluber (7 innings, 5 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB / 7 SO)
It couldn't have been a better spring year in the City of Goodyear.
The Indians offense wasted little time in their final ballgame in Arizona Thursday afternoon, jumping out to an early lead on a RBI infield single by Nyjer Morgan in the second inning.
An frame later, All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis drove in another run on a base-hit of his own off D-Backs starter Wade Miley, before outfielder David Murphy launched a RBI double to the gap in right-center to put the Indians up, 3-0 in the fourth.
For awhile it looked as though that would be all the run support Tribe starter Corey Kluber would need, as the right-hander shutout the Diamondbacks with six innings of scoreless baseball surrendering just three hits.
He would run into some trouble in the seventh though, as Arizona cut the Indians lead to one on a pair of RBI base knocks in the seventh.
KLUBER BOUNCES BACK
For the first time all spring, the Indians rotation finally looked like they have finally found a decent No. 2 starter.
After giving up seven earned runs on 11 hits in his previous start, Kluber went a dominant seven innings on Thursday, allowing just two runs on five hits.
As was said all spring, Kluber has big shoes to fill with Ubaldo Jimenez soaking up his new paycheck in Baltimore. The right-hander hasn't allowed a run through the first four innings in back-to-back starts.
It was a great way to end the spring season for Kluber, as his next start will be in Oakland on April 1 where he will toe the rubber against former Tribe starter Scott Kazmir.
MORGAN MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Whether he's a poor man's Michael Bourn or not, center fielder Nyjer Morgan continues to impress in the batter's box, on the field and of course, on the basepaths.
Thursday at Salt River Fields was no different. After giving his team the early lead on a RBI single, Morgan used his wheels in his second at-bat, legging out a base-hit by sliding into first base.
One of the more popular and unique personalities in the game over the past several seasons, there's no question Morgan aka "Tony Plush" will already be a fan favorite come Opening Day.
He hit .294 with 11 homers and 51 RBI in his first ever season in Japan last year. I've said it once and I'll say it again, I wouldn't be shocked at all to see Morgan steal more bags than Bourn in 2014.
--Utility man Mike Aviles was scratched from the lineup Thursday due to lower back soreness. Manager Terry Francona also gave the day off to left fielder Michael Brantley who was in the original starting lineup.
--After collecting at least one hit in his first six Cactus League games, outfielder Ryan Raburn has now gone hitless in two of his last three games. The right-handed slugger went 0-for-3 Thursday.
-- It was reported late Thursday that Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and his team have reached an agreement on a 10 year, $292 million contract extension. I have only one thing to say...good luck.
Cleveland improves to 19-7-2 with the victory, as they close out the spring season in Arizona in first place in the Cactus League standings, with just two exhibition games remaining.
With one more spring win, the Wahoo's will reach 20 spring training victories for the first time since 2006.
Up next for Indians: The Tribe breaks camp in Arizona and travels to the University of San Diego to take on the Padres at 9:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Zach McAllister will get the start against 21-year old San Diego pitcher Matt Wisler.
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Was a good article up on the Tribe's site about his struggles after his previous start. While his overall numbers looked terrible...most of the damage against him was coming in the last inning of so of each outing. Francona put it best:
"Like normal springs, there's been some inconsistencies," Francona said. "Klubes has actually been pretty consistent in the fact that, in his last innings of his outings, he seems to get a little tired and leaves some balls over the middle. That's actually, I think, a good sign. Every outing, he carries his stuff, it seems like one inning farther. That's good. That's progression. That's what pitchers do. That's part of Spring Training."
....and then after this he finishes with 6 shutout innings before allowing 2 runs in his 7th inning of work. At this rate...we're looking at 7 shutout innings come next week and him working into the 8th :)
One amazing thing about Kluber's spring...in 27.1 innings....walked just 3 batters. Makes his walk rate an amazing 0.99 per 9 innings...