Tonight, Kluber did not look like one of the league's best, turning in an uninspiring performance and giving the White Sox three different leads over the first five innings.
And yet he came away with his first win against Chicago this season, because every time he cracked in the top of an inning, Hector Noesi bailed him out in the bottom of the frame. And Noesi's innings were even more painful, because he saved the worst for two outs.
Second inning: The White Sox strung together a series of nice at-bats against Kluber. Conor Gillaspie doubled, moved to third on an Alejandro De Aza single, and scored on Adrian Nieto's double for a 1-0 lead. De Aza then busted it home on a weak grounder by Leury Garcia for a crooked number.
Fourth inning: Nieto led off with a single to left, and was replaced by Garcia on a fielder's choice. That actually worked out well, because when Adam Eaton came through with a double to the left-center gap, Garcia had the wheels to score all the way from first for a 3-2 lead.
Then Noesi walked the leadoff batter, allowed a single, and after retiring two batters, issued two two-out walks to bring in the tying run.
Fifth inning: Well ...
Noesi did get something of a raw deal the third time, after an Adam Dunn solo shot gave him a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth With Asdrubal Cabrera on first, an 0-2 count to Lonnie Chisenhall and two outs in the fifth inning, Cabrera took off for second on a low slider. Chisenhall took it for a ball, but Nieto made an incredible throw to second in time to get Cabrera. Alexei Ramirez caught it, but his swipe tag was too fast, with his glove passing in front of Cabrera's foot before Cabrera's foot touched the bag.
Dan Iassogna initially ruled Cabrera out, but a replay showed no tag, and so the inning continued, much to the Sox' chagrin. On the very next pitch, Chisenhall reached out and poked a changeup to center to drive in tying run, and Nick Swisher then gave the Tribe a two-run lead by belting a grooved two-seamer for a no-doubt homer to center field.
Noesi deserved better in the inning, but he didn't deserve much better on the evening. Even if Ramirez did apply the tag, it's hard to envision Noesi holding the lead for much longer. He allowed six runs on seven hits (two homers) and four walks over 4⅔ innings, only striking out two. The Indians tacked on a run against Andre Rienzo, who was pitching for the first time in two weeks, while their bullpen shut down the Sox completely -- nine up, nine down, five strikeouts.
*Garcia, starting for the slumping Gordon Beckham, did have a nice game with the glove, starting three slick 4-6-3 double plays. He committed an error in the seventh when he tried to charge a chopper with a runner on third and booted the ball, but his effort kept the runner frozen, and he never crossed the plate.
*Eaton was also charged with an error, as his attempt to throw out Chisenhall at the plate got away from Nieto. Noesi wasn't backing up to account for the angle of the throw for some reason.
*Nieto provided the sampler for his season -- two nice opposite-field hits, a strong throw, an overmatched strikeout and a passed ball with Rienzo on the mound.
*In the seventh inning, Robin Ventura was late to pull Rienzo after he allowed an RBI double to Carlos Santana, which brought the left-handed Chisenhall to the plate. Rienzo missed with a cutter for ball one, and then Ventura went out to the mound to bring in Eric Surkamp. Chisenhall dropped down a sac bunt, and then Ventura replaced Surkamp with Daniel Webb before Surkamp threw another pitch.