CLEVELAND, Ohio- The Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers kicked off their four-game series at Progressive Field on Monday evening on a chilly day at the ballpark. Corey Kluber took the mound for the third time in 2018, as he squared off against Francisco Liriano. Kluber had yet to earn a victory on the year, but had already pitched a complete game on Opening Night and held a 2.40 ERA heading into the AL Central showdown.
It was a low-scoring affair, as the only runs brought across home plate came from a Bradley Zimmer two-run shot in the fifth inning off of Liriano. Zimmer caught ahold of a slider and sent it for a ride straight to center field. The score would stand put at 2-0, giving the Indians their first back-to-back wins of the 2018 season.
Let's look at the three takeaways from the victory.
1. Kluber Gets Run Support, First Victory Of 2018- It was another solid outing for Tribe ace Corey Kluber, who went eight innings strong without allowing a run. Kluber got going early with four strikeouts through two innings and never looked back. If it wasn't for the 103 pitches thrown through eight frames, Kluber could've easily finished his second complete game based off of the stuff he was throwing at the Tigers' hitters all night.
Unlike his last two starts though, Kluber finally received some run support with Zimmer's dinger in the fifth inning. It wasn't much, but it was surely enough to secure the victory.
2. Zimmer Provides Spark- Bradley Zimmer was one of many Indians hitters that were struggling mightily heading into Monday's contest. Zimmer was batting just .154 through eight games and only mustered four hits in twenty-seven appearances. Monday was a nice boost for the second-year pro and could help kickstart his production rate going forward.
The center fielder put a beautiful swing on a slider from Francisco Liriano in the fifth inning that would head straight to center field. The long ball would stand as the game-winning play, as the Indians duo of Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller stifled the Detroit offense over the course of nine innings.
3. Saving The Bullpen's Arms- One of the perks of "Kluber Day" is the fact he goes extremely late into ballgames. What that means for the Indians pitching staff is rest.
Though it is early on in the season, preserving bullpen arms is never a bad thing. After coming back from a West Coast trip that featured an extra-inning game against the Angels last Wednesday, Cleveland has been able to limit the relievers' work to only three innings including Monday's victory and though it doesn't seem too crucial right now, those innings not needed to be logged now will come in handy come late September.