CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber peered in to get the sign, but Indians catcher Yan Gomes was resting on both knees. It was then that the Indians' ace noticed the decibel level was rising at Progressive Field, along with the stadium's sellout crowd.
For a brief moment, Kluber stepped off the rubber to allow the standing ovation to run its course in the eighth inning. Then, it was back to work for Kluber, whose record-setting gem went for naught in a 1-0 loss to the Padres on Tuesday night. In a tough defeat, Kluber's audience recognized his club-record fifth start in a row with double-digit strikeouts.
"They got loud, which was pretty cool," Kluber said.
Inside Cleveland's clubhouse after the loss, there was plenty of disappointment over seeing Kluber's eight-inning masterpiece go to waste. In the fifth, shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis each misfired in an attempt to turn double plays, leading to San Diego's lone run on a fielder's choice. In the batter's box, the Indians put seven runners in scoring position, yet never scored.
Save for grabbing a bat himself, Kluber did all he could to try to win. Instead, in his first start since being named an American League All-Star, the right-hander took his third loss of the season.
"He's been lights out.," Kipnis said. "That's not an earned run. That's on me. That's on the defense. It's tough. It's impressive that he only needs one or two to get it done, so you don't want him to change anything. We'll make the adjustment."
Kluber struck out 10, walked one and allowed five hits. His streak of five games with 10 or more strikeouts marks the 27th time since 1913 that a pitcher has enjoyed such a run. Eight straight games with 10-plus strikeouts is the record (Pedro Martinez in 1999; Chris Sale in 2015 and again earlier this year).
Kluber joined Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Curt Schilling, J.R. Richard, Dwight Gooden and Max Scherzer as the only right-handers to have a double-digit strikeout steak of five or more games.
"He's getting stronger, confident," said Indians bench coach Brad Mills, who managed in place of Terry Francona. "The way he's throwing the ball is absolutely outstanding. There's no doubt."
Dating back to June 1, when Kluber came off the disabled list after a month-long bout with a lower back injury, the right-hander has been overpowering.
In seven starts over that span, Kluber has a 1.24 ERA, with 74 strikeouts against eight walks. He has a 0.69 WHIP in that span, and has limited batters to a .155/.196/.207 slash line. Over that stretch, Kluber also has a 40.2-percent strikeout rate, with 18.8 percent of his pitches resulting in swinging strikes.
Despite missing a month, Kluber was still named an All-Star.
"It's an honor," said Kluber, who will join teammates Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez and Lindor in Miami next week. "I'm looking forward to it. I think it'll be cool to go down there with four other guys, and get to represent the Indians and kind of take in the couple days. Hopefully, I'll have a lot of fun."
One day after the All-Star announcement, Kluber was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for June. And on Tuesday, the pitcher's home fans had a chance to give him a rousing ovation.
"He deserves it, that's for sure," Mills said.