CLEVELAND — The Indians might have come to the plate in the eighth inning still trailing 1-0 on Wednesday night were it not for Corey Kluber's apparent ego.
Kluber, an amazing pitcher, had none on and two out in the eighth when Brock Holt drew a walk in an excellent at-bat, after Kluber held a 1-2 advantage in the count.
The next batter, Eduardo Nunez, pulled ahead 2-0 before taking a mighty swing at a breaking ball. Nunez fell to one knee and looked rather silly, but Kluber, apparently, thought the swing was insulting.
The next pitch from Kluber hit Nunez in the left elbow pad. Nunez glanced out at Kluber and walked rather slowly but there were no further developments in terms of animosity. (Chris Sale, who threw behind Manny Machado earlier this year is on the mound for the Red Sox on Thursday.)
“For pinpoint control, I think that was fairly obvious a message,” Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday of the pitch that hit Nunez.
Farrell also said he didn’t think there was an unwritten rule for swinging too hard.
The batter after Nunez, Mookie Betts, made Kluber pay with a single that extended the lead to 2-0. Holt was only in scoring position because Nunez was hit with a pitch.
Unwritten rules and intentional pitches aren't going anywhere, but the game was too tight and this series too important for Kluber to let bravado take over.
The score wound up 6-1 because of four Sox runs in the ninth. But in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Indians scored on an Edwin Encarnacion homer — a home run that theoretically could have tied the game had Kluber kept the score 1-0 in the eighth.
Nunez told WEEI.com's John Tomase that he did not think the pitch was a message pitch.
“I don't think so," Nunez said. "I think they're really good and Kluber's really good. He's too good to think that way. He's one of the best pitchers in the game. I don't think he should think that way.”