Kluber exits early as Yanks fall to Jays

May 26th, 2021

NEW YORK -- became “part of forever” six nights ago in Arlington, where he put the finishing touches on the Yankees’ first no-hitter since 1999. Those fortunes plunged abruptly upon his return to the Bronx, leaving the right-hander hoping for good news following a midgame trudge to the clubhouse.

Unable to get his right shoulder loose in warmups or on the mound, Kluber lasted only 58 pitches in the Yankees' 6-2 loss to the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Kluber said that the injury does not resemble the pain he felt after sustaining a significant shoulder tear last season; instead, he said this felt like more of a precautionary exit.

"As soon as I got the arm going, it felt kind of heavy, not painful or anything," Kluber said. "I tried to throw a few innings in hopes that the adrenaline would get it going. I just wasn't quite able to. I felt like it was compromising my quality of pitches, combined with trying to be smart and not risk injuring something else."

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that Kluber checked out well during his in-game exams. The club will attempt to find out more on Wednesday, scheduling Kluber for a series of imaging tests that will include an MRI.

Kluber tossed only one inning in the Majors last year due to a Grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder, an injury that did not require surgery.

"Last year, it was more localized to one specific area," Kluber said. "This just kind of feels more in general to me. I can't really pinpoint one area where anything was painful or anything like that. I felt like I had trouble getting it going, a fatigued feeling."

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a two-run homer in the third off Kluber, snapping a scoreless streak by Yankees starting pitchers at 37 innings -- a streak that began with Kluber’s gem against the Rangers in Arlington last Wednesday. Kluber walked three and struck out five.

"In the second and third innings, his stuff deteriorated a little bit and I could tell he was struggling through something," catcher Kyle Higashioka said. "I won't lie, it had me rattled a little bit when he came out. For the next couple of innings, I was kind of thinking, 'Well, I hope he's OK.'"

Losing Kluber for a significant period would be a blow to the Yankees, whose exceptional pitching was a key component in their six-game winning streak. Before Tuesday’s game, Bombers starters had tossed at least five scoreless innings in five consecutive starts for the first time in franchise history.

“[Leaving after three innings] was a tough pill for me to swallow,” said Kluber, who has a 3.04 ERA across 10 starts. “You feel like you’re letting the guys down, bailing on your teammates. I guess ultimately we were trying to be smart about it and not push through something, risk doing something else.”

Boone said that he does not believe Kluber’s no-hitter played a role in Tuesday’s exit, considering that 101-pitch outing was relatively low stress and that Kluber had an extra day of rest between starts.

“It wasn't one of those outings where he's got a no-hitter and he's going into a dangerous point of the game,” Boone said. “From a pitch count or stress pitches standpoint, it's pretty in line with what he's been doing.”

The Yankees were stifled by left-hander Steven Matz, who permitted four singles over the first six innings before allowing a seventh-inning run. In that frame, Clint Frazier stroked a two-out double and scored on Higashioka’s single.

“I think that his fastball plays up because sometimes he makes you think that other pitches are coming,” Frazier said of Matz. “I felt like I saw him pretty well; I saw every pitch that he had. I was just glad to be able to put a few good swings on him tonight.”

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. added a solo homer in the fourth off Michael King, who tossed three innings of relief on his 26th birthday. Toronto pulled away with two unearned runs in the seventh off Lucas Luetge. Randal Grichuk hit a ninth-inning homer off Justin Wilson.