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Depleted lineup unable to back Kluber's gem

Tribe ace K's 12, allows 2 runs in tough-luck loss
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- The lineup card that was pinned to the wall inside the Indians' clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon was hardly the most formidable order to be posted this season. With four regulars missing due to injury, Cleveland is just trying to do what it can to stay afloat offensively.

Pitching and defense become the priority in times like this, and the former was in fine shape with ace Corey Kluber on the hill against the Red Sox. He certainly did his part in another overpowering display, but the depleted lineup could not hold up its end in a 6-1 loss to Boston at Progressive Field.

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CLEVELAND -- The lineup card that was pinned to the wall inside the Indians' clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon was hardly the most formidable order to be posted this season. With four regulars missing due to injury, Cleveland is just trying to do what it can to stay afloat offensively.

Pitching and defense become the priority in times like this, and the former was in fine shape with ace Corey Kluber on the hill against the Red Sox. He certainly did his part in another overpowering display, but the depleted lineup could not hold up its end in a 6-1 loss to Boston at Progressive Field.

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"Sometimes you don't have everybody," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That doesn't mean you can't win. It just can be a little more challenging. Rather than back down, you just keep fighting."

The lineup that the Tribe trotted out there to support Kluber was sans Michael Brantley (right ankle), Jason Kipnis (right hamstring), Lonnie Chisenhall (right calf) and Carlos Santana (back). Three of those four are on the 10-day disabled list, while the other, Santana, might be able to return from a two-game absence Thursday.

Hamstring strain sends Kipnis to disabled list

Over the past two games (both losses), Cleveland has scored a pair of runs: One via a leadoff homer from Francisco Lindor (aka "Mr. Smile" for Players Weekend) on Tuesday and the other courtesy of an eighth-inning shot from Edwin Encarnacion (aka "EE" for Players Weekend) on Wednesday. Toss those out, and the Indians' offense went 2-for-54 with 18 strikeouts and two singles, including one that was tapped two feet in front of home plate.

Video: BOS@CLE: Encarnacion cranks towering solo HR to left

While it is not entirely fair to discredit the work of Boston starters Doug Fister and Drew Pomeranz over the past two nights, Cleveland's injuries certainly appear to have taken a toll on the lineup.

"Every team goes through injuries throughout the course of the year," Kluber said. "We've gone through them before. ... If guys just go out there and stay within themselves, and if we play the way we know that we can when we're playing good, I think we'll come through it OK. It's not like all these guys are having season-ending injuries."

Only one outing ago, Kluber (aka "Klubes" for Players Weekend) endured his own health scare.

Cleveland's ace rolled his ankle Friday against the Royals and limped off the field at Kauffman Stadium after only 74 pitches. The pitcher bounced back quickly, got through his bullpen session with no issues Sunday and took the mound as planned against the Red Sox. Kluber then worked into the eighth, logging 114 pitches and piling up 12 strikeouts along the way.

Video: BOS@CLE: Francona discusses Kluber's pitching duel

Kluber only slipped twice, but that was enough in light of the Tribe's offensive woes.

In the fifth, Kluber fired an elevated cutter to the inside part of the plate to Mitch Moreland, who pulled his hands in and used a quick swing to shoot the baseball over the wall in right for a 1-0 lead. After retiring two hitters to start the eighth, Kluber walked Brock Holt, hit Eduardo Nunez with a pitch and then allowed an RBI single to Mookie Betts.

"Not ideal," Kluber said.

No, but it would be hard to complain about what Kluber has done of late. Dating back to June 1, Kluber has gone 9-2 with a 1.87 ERA and 167 strikeouts against 19 walks in 115 1/3 innings. Over that time period, he has generated the most swinging strikes (307) in baseball. On Wednesday, Kluber also reached 200 strikeouts for the fourth straight season.

"My goodness," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He pitched a great game."

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.

Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber