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Indians’ weaknesses exposed in Game 1 loss to Astros

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  • ALDS-Indians-Astros-Baseball-2

    Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber, center, is pulled from the game during the fifth inning.

    Associated Press

  • ALDS-Indians-Astros-Baseball

    Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman hits a solo home run against the Cleveland Indians’ Corey Kluber.

    Associated Press

  • ALDS-Indians-Astros-Baseball-1

    Houston Astros’ George Springer celebrates his solo home run against Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber.

    Associated Press

  • ALDS-Indians-Astros-Baseball-7

    Houston starting pitcher Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Friday.

    AP

For the first time in the past three postseasons, the Cleveland Indians will have to play from behind in the American League Division Series after falling 7-2 in Game 1 on Friday against the Houston Astros.


ALDS-Indians-Astros-Baseball-2

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber, center, is pulled from the game during the fifth inning.


Associated Press

Enlarge

Just about everything went wrong for the Indians on the mound and at the plate, with Houston making them pay for every misstep along the way.

Here are three takeaways as Cleveland gears up for Game 2 on Saturday:

1. Justin Verlander was as advertised. This is the first time the Indians faced their old Central Division foe since he was traded to the Astros last season. From 2014-17, the Indians seemingly had his number. In 17 starts against Cleveland during that period, Verlander was 3-10. But in this one, he put together 5⅓ innings in which he allowed just two earned runs on two hits and struck out seven, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth.

2. Hits are at a premium. Houston had the best team ERA in baseball this year at 3.11, which means there aren’t going to be many opportunities for the Indians to steal offensive momentum. The closest Cleveland came was in the sixth inning, when it scored both runs, but ultimately as a team they had just three hits. That’s not going to get it done unless the Houston bats go cold, which brings us to our third point.

3. The Cleveland pitching staff has to be perfect to win against this Houston lineup. For as dominant as the Indians’ staff has been the past few years (Corey Kluber in particular), they were not able to get it done in this one with a practically non-existent margin for error. Kluber picked up his first loss in any postseason Game 1, allowing three homers.  But even without the home runs, Kluber struggled through some long at-bats and with staying ahead in the count. The bullpen piled on after Kluber left in the fifth, with Cody Allen allowing two earned runs and another homer.

Contact Ashley Bastock at: abastock@theblade.com, 419-345-5214, or on Twitter @AshleyBastock42.





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