Corey Kluber may not have added a third complete game shutout to his tab this month, but he still pitched well for Cleveland as the Indians took advantage of plenty of mistakes from the Braves on the way to their 11th consecutive victory.
Things got off to an ominous start for Atlanta in the very first frame, as Cleveland immediately let the Braves know that they were going to be a problem on the basepaths this evening. The Tribe was already up by one and had runners on first and third when Jose Ramirez tried to steal second. A.J. Pierzynski’s throw caromed off the glove of Erick Aybar, and with the ball laying prone in the infield near second base, Francisco Lindor raced home to make it 2-0 Cleveland. It went down as a double steal, and those were the first two of four stolen bases in just the first three innings of the game for the visitors.
It seemed as if this was going to be another one of those magnificent efforts from Cleveland ace Corey Kluber — and to be clear, he did pitch extremely well (with a line of eight innings pitched, seven strikeouts, and only one walk being evidence of that). The Braves only had one baserunner for the first five innings, and Kluber managed to retire 14 consecutive Braves before Erick Aybar broke through for the hosts’ first hit of the evening.
This ended up being a watershed moment for the Braves, because Emilio Bonifacio followed Aybar’s lead by hitting a single, and then Matt Wisler bunted the two runners into scoring position. With two outs, Ender Inciarte ended up being the final batter of the inning, but before he was thrown out at second for trying to stretch a single into a double, the center fielder managed to loop one into center. Both runners scored, and the Braves went from being potential victims of a no-hitter to tying the game up in a matter of minutes.
In the meantime, Matt Wisler recovered from a rocky first three innings and ended up having a pretty solid start. He left the game with a career high of nine strikeouts over six innings, and finished his night on the mound with a strikeout of Kluber to end the sixth.
The game remained deadlocked until the ninth inning, which is when Arodys Vizcaino entered the game. Vizcaino immediately ran into trouble by walking the first two batters he saw, and eventually Carlos Santana made the Braves pay for Vizcaino’s shakiness by hitting a smooth single into right field to put Cleveland back in front. The Braves had a chance to get out of the inning with just a one-run deficit, but Erick Aybar committed a costly error while trying to handle a grounder from Francisco Lindor. Santana made it to second base thanks to a wild pitch, so he ended up sauntering home following Aybar’s error. Jose Ramirez then hit one into center field for an RBI single, and that ended the night for Vizcaino and the Braves went into the bottom of the ninth in a three-run hole.
Jace Peterson did hit a solo homer off of Cody Allen in the bottom of the ninth to make it 5-3 and Freddie Freeman also hit a two-out triple, but the Braves were unable to get an extended rally going and Cleveland managed to pick up win #11 in a row. Also — because the Braves seemingly can’t go one night without getting into some sort of drama via the instant replay system — Jeff Francoeur was thrown out of the game from the dugout following a close call on an Ender Inciarte grounder going Cleveland’s way after review. It was that kind of night for the Braves, and now they’ve got no choice but to focus on avoiding a sweep tomorrow night.