Kluber dominates again, leads Tribe past Rockies, 5-2
Cleveland starter continues his tear, finishes May undefeated with 60 strikeouts
CLEVELAND—Who said the Indians don't have an ace?
Corey Kluber (6-3, 3.04 ERA) is not your prototypical front of the line starter, but he sure keeps pitching like one.
Friday night at Progressive Field was no different, as the right-hander led the Tribe past the Colorado Rockies, 5-2, snapping the team's four-game losing streak.
"Honestly, I don't think about whether we're on a winning streak or losing streak when I go out there," Kluber said. "I just try to go out there and pitch a good game, and give our team a chance to win each time out."
And that's exactly what he's done all season, especially in the month of May. Surrendering just two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, Kluber finishes the month 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA. On top of it all, he continues to be a strikeout machine, whiffing a dozen Rockies hitters Friday to end May with an even 60 punch-outs.
He becomes the second pitcher in Major League Baseball to strikeout at least 60 batters in a month over the last 10 years, and just the fifth Indians starter to do so since 1914.
"It's fun to write his name in every fifth day," skipper Terry Francona said. "He just continues to get better. Power, movement, command—his stuff was so dominant tonight."
Coming to Cleveland in the trade that sent former Tribe starter Jake Westbrook to St. Louis back in 2010, Kluber currently leads all of baseball with 95 strikeouts over 80 innings of work. The only hiccup he encountered Friday night was a pitch he left out over the plate to Rockies All-Star Carlos Gonzalez, who slugged a two-run homer off him in the second inning.
"My number one goal is to try and be as consistent as I can from start to start," Kluber said. "I just think strikeouts are a by-product of making good pitches. It's not going out there trying to strike guys out, it's just executing pitches."
While the Tribe right-hander was mowing down hitters, the Indians offense gave him some much needed backing despite their recent struggles. Scoring just seven runs over their last four games, Indians hitters struck for five runs on nine hits against Colorado starter Juan Nicasio (5-3, 4.06 ERA) who would last just 4 2/3 innings.
Cleveland (25-30) improves to a 21-6 record when scoring four runs or more in a ballgame.
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall continued his hot start to the season, going 2-for-4 with an RBI base-hit in the first inning and an RBI double in the fifth.
"His routine has been so solid so much more consistent," Francona said of Chisenhall. "He's hitting the ball all over the ballpark and you're going to see guys like that hit for a higher average."
Bourn has sizzled at the plate over the last two weeks, now hitting .358 (20-for-56) with three doubles, a homer and three RBI in his last 13 games.
"We had a lot of big hits tonight in timely situations," Kluber said. "Lonnie had a couple of two out RBI and Cabby put a good charge on the ball too."
Chiming in with single also in the fifth inning, Michael Brantley breaks the all-time franchise record notching a 19-game home hitting streak.
The five runs was more than enough for Tribe starter, who left to a standing ovation from the 25,066 in attendance at the ballpark.
"He looked kind of nasty," Bourn said in reference to Kluber. "He knows how to expand the plate when he needs to, and put it on the corner when he needs to. He's a competitor, and doesn't shy away from a big moment. He's only getting better and seems like he has that attitude of trying to get better, so that's always a plus."
It's safe to say the team has loved some home cooking, as they are 4-0 in their last four contests at Progressive Field.
"We know we can get rolling once we swing it right," Bourn said. "It was nice to see Kluber pitch with that kind of lead, he deserved it. We just need to continue to take it one game at a time. It's May so we're going to need to continue to battle like this for the next four months."
Up next for Indians: The Tribe looks to make it two in a row in Interleague play against Colorado Saturday afternoon. Right-handed phenom Trevor Bauer (1-2, 3.86 ERA) will make his fourth start and be opposed by Rockies southpaw Franklin Morales (3-4, 5.65 ERA) at 3:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.