ANAHEIM -- The four two-out runs the Indians scored in the top of the first inning were nice, second baseman Jason Kipnis said on Friday night at Angel Stadium.But he thought what Cleveland starter Corey Kluber did with them was really special."He was the knockout punch, what he did on
ANAHEIM -- The four two-out runs the Indians scored in the top of the first inning were nice, second baseman Jason Kipnis said on Friday night at Angel Stadium.
But he thought what Cleveland starter Corey Kluber did with them was really special.
"He was the knockout punch, what he did on the mound," Kipnis said, after Kluber went the distance on a three-hitter in a 6-2 victory over the Angels in the first game of a three-game series. "Our starting pitchers are pretty tough when they get a lead."
"He did actually what you're supposed to do," manager Terry Francona said of Kluber (6-6), who beat the Angels for the first time in four career starts against them. "He pounded the zone, just one walk. He rested our bullpen. Those are some pretty big bats in the middle of that lineup."
Kluber, who lowered his season ERA to 3.65, allowed just a Yunel Escobar leadoff double in the first six innings. The Indians ace did not allow another baserunner after Escobar and Kole Calhoun put together back-to-back singles in the sixth.
"It kinda sounds funny to say, but a lot of innings, I didn't feel too comfortable out there," Kluber said. "When I need to make pitches, I made them. When you get that lead, my goal is to go out and pound the zone."
Kluber threw 73 strikes out of a season-high 114 pitches, and struck out eight in his ninth career complete game, and second this season. The 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner threw a shutout at the Tigers on May 4.
Kluber also pitched to contact, and center fielder Rajai Davis and right fielder Michael Martinez did an excellent job running down some well-struck line drives. Kluber also credited excellent pitch-calling by catcher Yan Gomes, making his first start after leaving Tuesday's game in Seattle because of a testicular contusion.
Kipnis had three of the first-place Indians' 10 hits, and Martinez added two, as they maintained their AL Central lead at 3 1/2 games over the White Sox.
Kluber has pitched well in four of his past five starts, including six shutout, two-hit innings in his last outing on Sunday, a 7-0 victory over a Royals team he'll likely face next week at Kauffman Stadium. Kluber is 6-3 since starting the season 0-3, with minimal run support in his first three starts.
"That season was pretty magical," Francona said of Kluber's Cy Young campaign. "It might happen again, but a lot of things have to fall into place.
"He's still a heck of a pitcher. We feel pretty good every time we write his name down."
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com based in Anaheim.