Kluber hurls complete game shutout; Indians blank Seattle, 2-0
Tribe ace dominates again, going the distance over King Felix and the Mariners
CLEVELAND—The Indians traded their ace out of town Wednesday, but it was the Tribe’s true ace they held hidden up their sleeve.
Corey Kluber (11-6, 2.61 ERA) is that true ace, and he was paired up against the game’s best king in Mariners starter Felix Hernandez (11-3, 2.01 ERA). Even in this poker game, the ace defeated the king and took home the jackpot, as Cleveland blanked the Mariners, 2-0 on Kluber’s complete game shutout.
“It’s fun,” Kluber said. “It’s obviously a challenge going up against one of the best pitchers in the game, but I think we all look forward to challenges. It’s nice to come out on top.”
The Tribe right-hander continues to baffle the opposition at the top of rotation, scattering just three hits over nine scoreless frames, striking out eight without issuing a walk. He accomplished the feat all while tossing only 85 pitches in the ballgame, 16 of them for balls.
“Somebody asked me before the game if I wasn’t part of this game if I would buy a ticket and watch it,” manager Terry Francona said. “I was like, yeah. Rarely do you see two guys that are that good and on top of their game to boot. The only way we were going to win is by somebody probably doing something pretty special, and that’s what Klubs did.”
Notching his team-leading 11th win, it marked the fourth time in his last five starts Kluber pitched into the ninth. He becomes the first pitcher in baseball history to face 28 batters or fewer in back-to-back starts of at least nine innings.
“It’s very exciting,” Francona said. “Anybody that’s been around him knows he’s not content, but just watching how he handles himself makes it that much better.”
The victory came hours after the team shipped former front-man Justin Masterson to St. Louis for minor league outfielder James Ramsey. As a member of the Tribe for the last six seasons, his teammates carried around with them mixed emotions, but gave credit where it was due.
“You have to give Justin credit,” catcher Yan Gomes said. “He led Corey and our pitching staff the last couple of years. It was kind of tough. We’re definitely going to miss a guy like him.”
As part of respect for their friend and teammate, every Indians player wore their socks up Wednesday just like Masterson did each time he took the mound.
It seemed to work for Kluber and the offense alike as well. Scoreless through four innings, Tribe bats finally ended Hernandez’s perfect game in the fifth. MLB walks leader Carlos Santana drew a walk to start the frame before Lonnie Chisenhall lined a double to the gap in right-center. Nick Swisher also got in on the act, sliding headfirst into first base to run out an infield single to load up the bases.
Gomes gave his team the only runs they needed two batters later, shooting a two-run double down the first base line.
“That was actually a really nice piece of hitting,” Francona said. “Felix has so many ways to get you out it’s just not fair.”
“I got pretty lucky, because I was definitely looking for a different pitch,” the Tribe backstop said.
Whether it was luck or not, the inning railed Hernandez, who finished the game going seven strong innings allowing just the two runs on four hits.
The night instead however belonged to Kluber, who will be called upon greatly to lead Cleveland (53-54) over the final two months of the season.
“You just try and stay the course,” he said. “They came out of the gates aggressive and kind of more aggressive towards the middle of the game. I just tried to keep doing what I was doing.”
Kluber now holds the Indians single-season record with 10 games of eight strikeouts with no more than one walk.
“Every ball that he threw was a quality pitch,” Gomes said. “That’s something you don’t hear about. It was almost just as good as a perfect game in a sense. It’s just a lot of fun catching a guy like that.”
Despite only 14,863 in attendance, Tribe fans gave their ace a standing ovation throughout the ninth inning.
“I was locked in so I didn’t hear them,” Kluber said. “But I appreciate it obviously. It’s always good when they show support.”
Up next for Indians: The Wahoos hope to take the series with Seattle in the rubber match Thursday night at Progressive Field. Tribe starter Zach McAllister (3-6, 5.65 ERA) gets the start opposite of Mariners right-hander Chris Young (9-6, 3.04 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Now kipnis is lost again.
Was ap and may a mirage for Lonnie? Looks like it.
We need hitters. Lots of them. I better see some young guys get a shot nex year!
There is no doubt these have been your four best hitters this season. Not Kipnis, not Swisher, not Murphy, not Bourn, not Cabrera. It too baffles me why Francona kept mixing in Kipnis as long as he did into that foursome, and now he's doing the same with Swisher. Put those four in the middle, and chances are good the offense will score at least an extra run or two most nights, and with the way the pitching has been at times, that may be enough to put together some winning streaks. Hope having Swisher in the bottom part of the order will lead to better pitches and some consistency from him.
By the way, hear about the blockbuster between Oakland and Boston?
Cespedes to Boston for Lester and Gomes.
The rotation appears to be in good hands with Kluber leading the staff. Tons of talent in Bauer and Salazar and some questions with McAllister, House and Tomlin. Should make for an open audition for the last spot in the rotation. Obviously, the a Tribe needs another veteran arm, we could see them land one today. Lackey, and Kennedy seem to fit that role. Then there is rumors Houston will move Kuechel, McHugh or Cossart in the right deal. All three are interesting arms, the price is high but they come with several yrs of control.
The 3 ABs of Swisher, Murphy and then Gomes in the bottom of the 5th were this season's offense in a nutshell: the high priced vets were unable to score the runner from 3rd and Gomes bailed them out. How the hell Swisher is still hitting in front of Gomes is incomprehensible.
Fun fact: the day the Indians traded Masterson, all teams in the org won, going 7-0. 4 of those wins were shutouts with a no-no from Cloyd to cap it off. It's like they've saluted the former ace with ace performances all around