Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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No matter where this world takes us or what we do with our lives; consistency will always be the key. Just ask the Cleveland Indians. After sporting a terrible 12-21 record in the early part of May, the Tribe went on a 12-5 run to finish off the month and now sit only six and a half games back in the American League Central Division. Don't get me wrong, the strong play of Michael Brantley, Brandon Moss and the resurgence of the bullpen has been a contributing factor, but there is no way the Indians would be back in the mix if the Brothers K weren’t having their way with the game of baseball.
Cleveland's own Corey Kluber and Jason Kipnis were arguably the two best players in all of baseball during the month of May, and it seemed to come as a bit of a surprise. After signing a six-year, $52.5 million contract extension with the Indians at the beginning of the 2014 season, Kipnis finished with his worst season yet as a pro, posting career lows in batting average (.240), on-base percentage (.310) and runs batted in (41). Many wondered if 2015 would be any different for Kipnis, or if the 2014 Kipnis was the kind of player they would be seeing for the remainder of his contract.
Unlike Kipnis, Corey Kluber had a very memorable 2014 where he went 18-9, with 269 strikeouts, an earned run average of 2.44, and oh yeah, a Cy Young Award to cap it all off. The breakout performance earned him a five-year, $38.5 million extension with Cleveland right before the 2015 season started, and just like every other Tribe fan out there, I was ecstatic! But that feeling went away fairly quickly as Kluber started the season off with a horrendous record of 0-5 and a 5.04 ERA, which was not worthy of his latest payday. Just like Kipnis, we all started to wonder if Kluber’s best days were already behind him and we just paid him for what he had done, not for what he was going to do.
Well, it’s pretty safe to say that all of the doubters were shut up pretty quickly. Kipnis recorded one of the best Mays in Indian’s history with 17 RBI, 30 runs scored, a .429 batting average, an on-base percentage of .511 and even broke “Shoeless” Joe Jackson’s franchise record with 51 total hits. Don’t worry; Kluber has been no slouch either. Since May 13, Kluber is sporting a 3-0 record with 50 strikeouts and has only allowed two walks and five earned runs in 32 innings of work. One of those wins even came against the league-best St. Louis Cardinals, where he allowed only one hit and struck out 18 batters through eight innings. Not bad.
When Sports Illustrated crowned the Cleveland Indians the 2015 World Series Champions before the season started, I thought it was completely stupid and would never happen. Even though I will always be a diehard Indians fan, I still think that World Series aspirations are a year or two down the road, but for the Wahoo Warriors to live up to the SI prediction, Kipnis and Kluber have to be the backbone of this team and keep playing just like they are. No question.
Jason Kipnis and Corey Kluber put together a month that will go down in history as one of the best ever, but as an Indians fan, this past month is just a small sample of what our future looks like at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.