CLEVELAND -- It looked early on as if Felix Pena was going to have a special game at Progressive Field on Saturday.Pena, the 28-year-old right-hander who entered the game with a 5.23 ERA, held the American League Central-leading Indians hitless into the sixth inning before allowing a string of hits
CLEVELAND -- It looked early on as if Felix Pena was going to have a special game at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Pena, the 28-year-old right-hander who entered the game with a 5.23 ERA, held the American League Central-leading Indians hitless into the sixth inning before allowing a string of hits breaking up the bid for history, but Indians ace Corey Kluber was even better, as Cleveland's right-hander dealt a 98-pitch complete game to shut out the Angels, 3-0.
Kluber (14-6) held the Halos (55-57) to three hits, surrendered a walk and struck out seven to earn a share for the most wins in the American League, tied with the Yankees' Luis Severino and Boston's Rick Porcello. Two of the hits allowed by Kluber were soft singles from Andrelton Simmons and Jose Pujols, who both went 1-for-4. Cleveland's All-Star and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner also gave up a double to No. 9 hitter Eric Young
"He stayed on top of us -- he pitched ahead in the count and he pitched a terrific game for those guys," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had some chances early, but he does so many things with the ball. We had some guys on, hit a couple balls hard, but we had a couple guys on and couldn't get a hit that could have gotten us on top."
It took the Tribe until the sixth to crack Pena (1-3), who allowed his first hit on a leadoff home run by newly acquired center fielder Leonys Martin. The homer was one of three straight hits allowed by Pena, which was all he gave up in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs, walking three and striking out one.
"We just couldn't get a bead on him," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He was maybe effectively out of the zone. He has good stuff, a real good breaking ball."
Following Martin's homer, Francisco Lindor doubled off the left-field wall and came around to score on a single to center field from Michael Brantley to make it 2-0. Pena induced a flyout from Jose Ramirez before getting pulled for Jim Johnson, who recorded the final two outs in order to escape the frame.
Despite holding the Indians hitless, Pena struggled to find the strike zone through the first two innings. He needed 28 pitches to get through the first two frames -- and only 11 were called for strikes by home-plate umpire Joe West.
Pena exited after 86 pitches -- 47 of which were thrown for strikes.
"It had to do with mechanics," Pena said through a translator. "I felt like I wasn't facing the catcher straight, a little sideways. In the second inning, I started to face him, and that's what the problem was."
Pena was tagged for seven runs in one-third of an inning on Sunday against the Mariners, marking his worst start of the season. Scioscia said he noticed Pena struggled with fastball command early, just like the right-hander's last start.
"Like in his last start, he struggled with his command, and I think they put seven runs on the board," Scioscia said. "The results were better, but the early process he was having trouble finding the zone again. Once he did, his stuff was great. He matched Corey pitch for pitch probably for three straight innings. We just couldn't get anything going."
Though Pena's start was a promising step in the right direction, he didn't think the ends were enough to justify the results.
"My plan is to never look up at the scoreboard, so I can focus and execute my game," Pena said. "It doesn't really matter if it was a good game or a bad game. The primary idea is to win the game whenever. So that's what I strive for."
REPORT: SCIOSCIA TO STEP DOWN AFTER 2018
According to a report from MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal published in the Athletic after the game, sources say Scioscia is expected to step down as the Angels' manager at the end of the season. Scioscia, who turns 60 on Nov. 27, is nearing the completion of a 10-year, $50 million contract. His 19-year run in Anaheim is the longest managerial stint since Bobby Cox managed the Braves for 21 seasons, and is the sixth-longest in Major League history.
• Scioscia to end Angels tenure after 2018
Scioscia led the Halos to a World Series championship in 2002, six division titles, and has won two American League Manager of the Year Awards in 2002 and '09. According to the report, it's unclear if Scioscia intends to manage again.
Pujols' sixth-inning hit broke an 0-for-18 career line for the first baseman against Kluber. Of the 248 pitchers against whom Pujols has logged 15-plus plate appearances in his career, Kluber was the only one to hold him hitless.
HE SAID IT
"I tried to test it today. Throwing wasn't terrible, it was just sore. When I was swinging, I felt it pretty good. I kind of just came in, felt almost the same as yesterday. It's a day-to-day thing, if I come in tomorrow and it feels good, we'll see where I'm at. I want to be out there. It's obviously frustrating. You don't want to be on the bench while your watching the game out there." -- Michael Trout, who has been day to day since Wednesday with a right wrist contusion, on missing time
Sunday's scheduled starter Tyler Skaggs was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left adductor strain and the Angels will recall William McGuire (0-1, 6.12 ERA) to fill in. The Indians will counter with rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (5-2, 4.73 ERA), who allowed four runs -- three earned -- in 6 1/3 innings against the Twins in his last start. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. PT at Progressive Field.
Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. You can follow him on Twitter @Casey_Harrison1.