Steve Nesius/AP
August 14, 2017

Corey Kluber beat the Rays on Sunday, retaining Cleveland’s 4 ½-game lead atop the AL Central. Kluber allowed three runs on four hits in the game, striking out nine and firing seven strong innings and helping his bullpen out during the dog-days portion of the season.

This, of course, was a massive disappointment.

What else can you say about a pitcher who, in his previous start, became just the sixth pitcher ever to strike out 11 or more batters in five straight starts (the others were Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Chris Sale and J.R. Richard)? What else can you say about a pitcher who’d twirled consecutive complete games in his previous two starts, when only three other American League pitchers had tossed two or more complete games all season long?

Chris Sale has been an alien in 2017, swooping into stadiums, sucking out hitters’ souls and turning his starts into acts of intolerable cruelty. Otherwise Kluber would be sailing toward his second Cy Young award. A shot at World Series Game 7 redemption, though, remains very much on the table.

5. Arizona Diamondbacks (65–52, plus-108, LT: 6)

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