CLEVELAND -- For one outing, Corey Kluber looked human and red flags were raised. Heaven forbid he allow four whole runs or walk a batter. Against the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, the Indians' ace showed everyone that there is nothing to worry about.In an 12-0 romp over Chicago at
CLEVELAND -- For one outing, Corey Kluber looked human and red flags were raised. Heaven forbid he allow four whole runs or walk a batter. Against the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon, the Indians' ace showed everyone that there is nothing to worry about.
In an 12-0 romp over Chicago at Progressive Field, Kluber cruised through seven brilliant innings, relinquishing just one single and slicing his way through the final 16 batters he faced without allowing a hit. The end result -- helped by home runs from Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis -- was Kluber reaching 11 wins before any other pitcher in baseball this year.
"I think he's all right," Indians manager Terry Francona said with a laugh. "Boy, I mean, it seems like every five days you try to come up with maybe something different to say, but my goodness. His level of consistency is so high that, man, it's just fun to watch."
Kluber struck out seven, issued one walk and only flinched once in the third, when Omar Narvaez delivered a two-out single that led to nothing. With the victory, Kluber improved to 11-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.10, which is currently the fifth-lowest mark in MLB.
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Combined with the work of Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger in the previous two wins, Cleveland's rotation limited the White Sox to one run over 21 2/3 innings in the three-game brooming.
"Our pitching staff has been really consistent throughout the whole year," said Indians first baseman Yonder Alonso, who had three hits, including an RBI double. "And, obviously, when you have a horse like that in Corey going out there and doing his thing, that's a plus."
Indians fans are probably breathing a little easier, given how things went last time out for Kluber, who is like the pitching equivalent of a metronome when it comes to the lines he methodically produces every five games. On Friday, Kluber was pulled after only 65 pitches in a loss to the Twins.
In that last outing, Kluber issued a walk to end a career-best streak of 46 1/3 consecutive innings without a free pass. He gave up four runs, ending a string of 14 straight quality starts and snapping his American League-record run of 26 consecutive starts with no more than three runs allowed. Those setbacks, combined with the early exit, made it fair to wonder if something was wrong with the leader of Cleveland's staff.
Kluber appears to be just fine in his pursuit of a third career AL Cy Young Award.
"For the middle innings, I kind felt off again," Kluber said. "But I think I just did a better job of adjusting to it and figuring out how to work through it than I did last time. Last time, I couldn't make that adjustment. I made some bad pitches and it hurt me.
"Today, I was able to kind of work through it and adjust some things from pitch to pitch. I think when you can make those adjustments quicker, even if things do feel off, you can kind of try and find that new normal."
The Indians' lineup did its part in support of Kluber, churning out five runs (four earned) against starter Reynaldo Lopez and piling more as the game wore on. Ramirez launched a three-run shot in the first inning for his 22nd homer of the season, moving him one behind MLB leader Michael Trout. Kipnis highlighted a six-run sixth with a three-run blast of his own.
When Kluber took the mound for the seventh, he was armed with an 11-0 lead and on his way to the win column again.
"I would be willing to bet every pitcher would like to pitch with a lead like that," Francona said. "He just pitches his game. He may throw a few more first-pitch fastball strikes because of the scoreboard, but he just pitches his game. It's nice."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yes way, Jose: In his first four seasons in the big leagues, Ramirez managed 19 home runs overall. The switch-hitter then broke out with a career-best 29 shots last season, ending as a finalist for the AL MVP Award. Ramirez is on pace to shatter that total this year. In the first inning, the Tribe third baseman belted a 1-0 fastball from Lopez out to center for a three-run homer to spot Kluber a quick lead.
Ramirez's 22 home runs are tied for the fourth-highest total by an Indians batter through the first 73 team games of a season. Al Rosen (25 in 1950) and Albert Belle (25 in '96) hold the record, with Rocky Colavito (23 in '59) coming in second. Belle ('94) and Jim Thome ('97) also had 22. More >
Kip caps rally: White Sox reliever Bruce Rondon labored through a 35-pitch sixth inning that helped the Indians turn the win into a rout. After a wild pitch allowed Ramirez to score from third, Rondon then served up a three-run homer to Kipnis to punctuate a six-run outburst in the frame. Over his past four games, Kipnis has gone 6-for-16 (.375) with two homers, four runs scored and five RBIs.
"He's taking more good swings," Francona said. "Even the lineout today before the home run. I think there's more good swings. I think he looks more confident. It looks like when he swings now there's more conviction in going to get the ball. I think he'll be just fine."
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Indians nearly pulled off a double steal in the third inning with Michael Brantley (third base) and Edwin Encarnacion (second), but the White Sox challenged the safe call at third. The ruling was overturned after it was determined that third baseman Yolmer Sanchez applied the tag on Brantley in time. That snapped a streak of 23 successful steals in a row for the Indians, dating back to May 23. That marked the longest such streak in Cleveland history since caught-stealing became an official statistic in 1920.
HE SAID IT
"You know, he's just a baseball player. When you give guys contracts and things, I don't know that Jose really ever [cared]. He just likes to play. Even when we told him today we'd give him a couple innings off. He kind of thought about it a little bit. He just likes to play baseball, and he's really good." -- Francona, on Ramirez
"At the end of the day, Kluber attacks and keeps you off the bases and always, when a club is not scoring any runs, not on the bases, you always look flat. That's not necessarily the case." -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria
Following a team off-day on Thursday, right-hander Shane Bieber (1-0, 3.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Indians in a 7:10 p.m. ET clash against the Tigers on Friday at Progressive Field. Bieber picked up his first career MLB win on Sunday against the Twins. Detroit will counter with righty Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.09 ERA).
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.