DETROIT -- After the sinker zipped over the outside corner and popped into the glove of Indians catcher Roberto Perez, Nicholas Castellanos dropped his bat, removed his helmet and walked away without complaint. There was no arguing the precision of Corey Kluber's pitching.Kluber methodically worked his way up and down
DETROIT -- After the sinker zipped over the outside corner and popped into the glove of Indians catcher Roberto Perez, Nicholas Castellanos dropped his bat, removed his helmet and walked away without complaint. There was no arguing the precision of Corey Kluber's pitching.
Kluber methodically worked his way up and down Detroit's order, while the Tribe offense put up a well-rounded showing en route to a 9-2 rout of the Tigers on Sunday at Comerica Park. With the victory, Kluber became the first pitcher in the American League to reach 10 wins this season.
"He just keeps working on his game and elevating it in places wherever he can," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I mean, to beat him, you have to beat him by stringing a bunch of hits together. That's hard to do. That's part of the reason he's so successful."
Armed with the wealth of support, Kluber continued to practice extreme efficiency as he added eight more innings to his Major League-leading total of 99 2/3 frames on the season. The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner yielded a pair of runs and finished with eight strikeouts, but more notable was the absence of a walk once again.
Sunday marked the sixth consecutive start in which Kluber did not issue a free pass, putting him into a tie with Paul Byrd (2007) and Addie Joss (1908) for the second-longest streak of that kind by an Indians starter in club history. Dick Donovan holds the franchise record with seven consecutive starts with no walks in 1963.
The MLB record for consecutive starts with no walks is 11, by Bill Fisher of the Kansas City Athletics in 1962.
Kluber has faced 168 consecutive batters without issuing a free pass, and his run of 43 1/3 innings without a walk is the longest by a Tribe pitcher since Byrd's 48-inning walk-free streak in 2007. During his six-start streak, Kluber has gone 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings.
"I'm pretty sure I had a few three-ball counts today," Kluber said. "I think my focus, even when I get in those positions now or whenever, is to still try to execute a pitch. The last thing I want to do is throw a ball right down the middle just to avoid walking somebody, and then give up damage. I still want to make a quality pitch.
"For whatever reason, either guys are swinging at them or I make those pitches in the zone."
Leonys Martin accounted for both Tigers runs off Kluber, collecting an RBI with a groundout in the third and later adding a homer in the sixth. In the eighth, Kluber slipped into a full count against Martin, who was frozen by a cutter for a crucial called strikeout with runners on second and third. Castellanos followed by flying out to the warning track in left field to end the threat.
"If he throws you a pitch and it starts as a strike, it's going to be a ball," Tigers catcher John Hicks said of Kluber. "If he throws you a pitch that starts as a ball, it's probably going to be a strike. His ball, it's like a Wiffle ball, it really is. He's throwing two-seamers that are starting a foot off the plate, and end up being on the plate. It's impressive stuff."
To back Kluber, the Indians scored three runs off Tigers starter Artie Lewicki and piled on six more against the Detroit bullpen. Yonder Alonso (RBI double), Melky Cabrera (three RBIs), Erik Gonzalez (three-run double) and Yan Gomes (two-run homer) came through for Kluber, who is now 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA on the year.
"It's like facing a righty and a lefty," Gomes said of Kluber. "His two-seam will come back like a lefty slider. Or a cutter, and he gets his slider going the other way and he'll pull the string on somebody. It's one of those things. He knows how to adapt."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: With Jason Kipnis out of the starting lineup on Sunday due to neck stiffness, Gonzalez came off the bench and got the nod at second base. The utility man made the most of his opportunity with the bases loaded in the sixth. The infielder drilled a 1-1 pitch from reliever Drew VerHagen deep into the right-center-field gap for a bases-clearing double that pushed the Indians ahead, 6-1.
"Obviously, the big hit, the double, that spread it out for us," Francona said. "It's nice to pad that lead, especially with Kluber pitching."
PEREZ EXITS, GOMES DELIVERS
Prior to the three-run double by Gonzalez, Perez was hit on the right hand by an inside fastball from VerHagen to load the bases. Perez initially stayed in the game and scored on Gonzalez's hit, but the catcher was replaced in the bottom of the sixth by Gomes. Perez underwent X-rays and the Indians will know more about the severity of the injury on Monday.
"It's a little ambiguous right now," Francona said. "There's a decent chance we dodged a bullet. I don't know that. We're going to have to see, one, how he shows up tomorrow. He really got hit hard. By the time I saw him, and then he got to first, it had turned purple. So, we'll hope for the best, but we'll prepare for other."
Perez started over Gomes on Sunday due to the latter catching all 12 innings of Saturday's loss to the Tigers. In the eighth inning, Gomes showed no signs of fatigue when he crushed a full-count fastball from Zac Reininger a projected 429 feet to center for a two-run home run, giving Cleveland a 9-2 advantage.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor has shown off his swim-move slide multiple times over the years and he used the technique again on a steal of second in the fourth. As Lindor slid head-first into the bag, he pulled his left arm away from the tag attempt by Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias while grabbing the base with his right hand. Lindor was deemed safe for his second stolen base in the game. Three batters later, Lindor sprinted home on a sacrifice fly from Cabrera.
Per Statcast™, Kluber entered Sunday's outing with a Major League-leading 36 called strikeouts. The right-hander also had the most called strikeouts via a two-seamer/sinker with 25. Against the Tigers, Kluber chalked up six more called strikeouts, including four with his sinker.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 4.23 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Tribe on Monday, when the White Sox host the Indians in an 8:10 p.m. ET clash at Guaranteed Rate Field to open a four-game set. Carrasco is 3-3 with a 3.83 ERA in seven road starts this season. Chicago will counter with Lucas Giolito (4-6, 7.08).
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.