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Kluber spins 12-K gem to lead Tribe over Texas

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Backed by a balanced effort from his offense, Indians ace Corey Kluber spun another gem to lead Cleveland to a series win over the Rangers with a 5-1 victory on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Kluber, who went eight innings and only allowed one run on three hits with one walk, struck out 12 batters and made some history in the process. The dozen-strikeout performance marked Kluber's fourth straight start with double-digit punchouts. Kluber is now tied with Hall of Famer Bob Feller for the longest such streak in club history. Feller accomplished the feat between the 1938 and '39 campaigns.

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CLEVELAND -- Backed by a balanced effort from his offense, Indians ace Corey Kluber spun another gem to lead Cleveland to a series win over the Rangers with a 5-1 victory on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Kluber, who went eight innings and only allowed one run on three hits with one walk, struck out 12 batters and made some history in the process. The dozen-strikeout performance marked Kluber's fourth straight start with double-digit punchouts. Kluber is now tied with Hall of Famer Bob Feller for the longest such streak in club history. Feller accomplished the feat between the 1938 and '39 campaigns.

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"He's tremendous," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think that goes back to his work ethic and the way he works at his craft. It's not just by luck. It's nice, we need it. We've had some ups and downs in our rotation."

Video: TEX@CLE: Francona on Kluber's dominant start

The outing put the finishing touch on a brilliant June for Kluber, who went 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 43 innings for the month.

Kluber was given more than enough support from the Tribe's offense, which tallied nine hits on the day. Lonnie Chisenhall drove in two with a pinch-hit double in the sixth, and Edwin Encarnacion and Francisco Lindor each added an RBI.

Video: TEX@CLE: Encarnacion connects on a run-scoring single

The only run that the Rangers were able to score came on a first-inning solo shot by left fielder Nomar Mazara. Per Statcast™, Mazara's 11th homer of the season traveled a projected 399 feet to the seats in right field and had an exit velocity of 104 mph.

"The offense didn't hit today," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "At any point in time we can break out and get rolling again. Look, it's one of those situations where you face good pitching -- they can make it challenging, and they did. We have to regroup and we have a little yard work to do."

After being activated from the disabled list prior to the game, Rangers starter Andrew Cashner went five-plus innings and allowed five runs on six hits and two walks. He was handed his seventh loss of the season.

"I thought he threw the ball extremely well," Banister said. "That situation there in the third, a couple of wild pitches he allowed some runners to advance and score. He was able to regather himself. I thought he threw some extremely good fastballs down in the zone. The slider, swing and miss today. Velo was good. I thought he was in control of his delivery for the most part."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Zimmer flashes speed: Rookie Bradley Zimmer used his legs to help the Indians to a two-run showing in the third. First, he hustled for an infield single on a high chopper to Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor. Per Statcast™, Zimmer registered a Sprint Speed of 30.8 feet per second while beating the throw. Zimmer's wheels also came into play later in the inning, when Cashner threw his second wild pitch of the frame. Zimmer came barrelling home from third, sliding feet first and rolling around Cashner's tag to put the Indians ahead, 2-1. Cashner was visibly upset, but the Rangers opted not to challenge the call.

"It was a big run for us," Zimmer said. "Just as I was approaching, I knew it was going to be close. So my first thing was I tried to get my front foot to hit the base before anything. So I was just kind of reaching and then stuck my toe out and got in there just in time."

"I thought I got him, but when I came up and saw the video, I saw he got his foot in there," Cashner said. "You watch him play, he's definitely got speed. You can't play center field without speed in this game. Almost got him. It could have gone the other way had his foot not got in."

Video: TEX@CLE: Zimmer hustles home to score on a wild pitch

In a pinch: Chisenhall has had a knack for contributing off the bench, and that remained the case on Thursday. With runners on second and third and no outs in the sixth, he was called upon as a pinch-hitter when the Rangers handed the ball to reliever Nick Martinez. Chisenhall delivered a two-run double to right, giving him an American League-leading nine RBIs as a pinch-hitter this year. The Cleveland outfielder has an .857 slugging percentage in 14 pinch-hit at-bats on the season.

"He certainly does a good job of staying ready," Francona said. "As we get into the game, he's down there [warming up]. It's not like he's going in cold. I think that helps you mentally. He's always been ready, which is good. But I think he's in a pretty good place, confidence-wise. Maybe didn't swing the bat great last night, but that doesn't throw him. He's in a pretty good spot."

Video: TEX@CLE: Chisenhall plates two runs on a double

QUOTABLE
"In the situation today, you got Corey Kluber on the mound for them. He is a premier pitcher in this league. [He had] a really good fastball today, but more than anything else, I think it was the breaking ball. It's a wipeout pitch for him that he was able to get to. He threw enough pitches in on the right-handers and away from the left-handers to where he could expand for strikes off the plate, and get the swing and miss."
-- Banister, on Kluber

"It's like any other accomplishment. I think it's cool to hear those kind of things. I think that you take a moment to appreciate it and then you move on. That's probably something that you'll appreciate more down the road. I think that accomplishments like that are nice, but not why we play the game."
-- Kluber, on achieving a few more strikeout milestones

Video: TEX@CLE: Kluber discusses approach in Tribe's 5-1 win

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Heading into Thursday's game, batters had a .123 slugging percentage against Kluber's curveball, per Statcast™. When Mazara belted a homer off the pitch in the first inning, it marked the first shot off the ace's curve since Sept. 6, 2016 (Marwin Gonzalez).

Kluber's 12 strikeouts gave him 1,041 in his career with the Tribe. That moved the ace into a tie with Luis Tiant for 10th place on the Indians' all-time career strikeouts list.

Video: TEX@CLE: Kluber fans Napoli to strike out the side

SCARY MOMENT FOR CASHNER
In the sixth inning, Cashner fired a 94-mph two-seamer that shattered the bat of Encarnacion, who pushed the pitch into right for an RBI single. As the ball dropped into the outfield, though, a shard of the slugger's bat spiraled toward Cashner, who was struck on the right forearm by the splintered wood. The pitcher remained in the game for one more batter, but exited after then allowing a double to Jose Ramirez. Cashner sustained a contusion and Texas noted that he was scheduled to undergo precautionary X-rays.

"The end got me in the stomach, and [the] barrel hit me in the forearm," Cashner said. "Luckily I was able to turn in time. I never saw the bat." More >

Video: TEX@CLE: Cashner shaken up after being hit by a bat

WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: The Rangers will head over to the South Side of Chicago to open a three-game series with the White Sox beginning with Friday's 7:10 p.m. CT tilt at Guaranteed Rate Field. Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-0, 3.68 ERA) will take the mound for the Rangers. The right-hander is coming off a strong seven-inning, one-run, five-hit outing against the Yankees.

Indians: Right-hander Josh Tomlin (4-9, 6.09 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 7:10 p.m. ET clash with the Tigers on Friday at Comerica Park. It will mark the opener in a four-game weekend series, as the rivals will play a doubleheader on Saturday. Tomlin is 1-3 with a 5.50 ERA on the road this season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland and covered the Rangers on Thursday.

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.