Kluber Shines, Clutch Seventh Sparks Tribe; Indians 3, Royals 0
Steve Eby | On 12, Jul 2013
Getting five straight base hits will provide your team with a big spark, but getting nearly eight shutout innings from your starting pitcher will get your team a lot of wins. On Friday night, the Cleveland Indians received both of these and defeated the Kansas City Royals by a score of 3-0.
The Indians, behind the superb pitching of Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.88), were able to record their league-leading 12th shutout of the 2013 campaign. More importantly, the 49-44 Tribe was able to keep pace with front running Detroit, staying 2.5 games behind the Tigers who defeated the Texas Rangers as well. The 12 zeroes thrown by the pitching staff are the most the Tribe has thrown in a season since the 1968 team compiled 17.
Kluber was spectacular and was matched pitch for pitch by Royals starter Bruce Chen. Chen worked six shutout innings before giving way to the Royals bullpen. The Indians did all of the damage that they needed to do off of the bullpen that inning.
The Royals were the first team to even threaten touching home plate when Akron native David Lough tripled to lead off the top of the fifth. A smashed groundout and a heads-up play by Jason Kipnis to hold Lough at third got Kluber his first out, but back-to-back walks loaded the bases afterwards. Kluber then buckled down and struck out Alex Gordon and then got Eric Hosmer to tap out weakly to the right side and ended the threat. The Indians immediately followed with a blown opportunity of their own.
Carlos Santana led off the bottom of the fifth with an opposite field double into right. The two-bagger was the first hit that Chen had allowed all game. Mark Reynolds then put the Indians in the driver’s seat when he worked the count to 3-0, but Chen came right back and struck out the K-prone designated hitter. A Ryan Raburn pop out and a Mike Aviles fly out ended the inning and kept the scoreless tie intact.
The Santana double was one of only two baserunners that Chen allowed all evening, the other being a third inning walk by Aviles. He was pulled for the bottom of the seventh and was replaced by Royals reliever Tim Collins, who surrendered the Indians second hit—a single by Kipnis—to the first batter he faced. Collins then followed by allowing a second straight single to Nick Swisher and was pulled from the game in favor of Aaron Crow, who also proved no match for the Indians hitters.
Santana smashed a single off of Crow into centerfield as Kipnis was waved around third by Coach Brad Mills. Luckily for the Tribe, the throw from Jarrod Dyson was a poor one and Kipnis’ slide was a great one as the All-Star snuck his hand in for the first tally of the game. Reynolds, in a huge slump, then raised eyebrows and dropped jaws all over the ballpark by bunting for a single to load the bases immediately after. Cleveland tacked on two more runs when Michael Bourn, pinch hitting for Raburn, smacked a double into the right-centerfield gap for what turned out to be the final 3-0 Indians lead.
Kluber, meanwhile, continued to roll through the Royals lineup, working into the eighth inning. When he gave way to Joe Smith with two outs and a runner at first, Kluber had worked 7.2 innings of shutout baseball while giving up three hits and three walks. Smith made those numbers stand up, as he retired Billy Butler on a first pitch groundout.
Cody Allen worked the ninth inning for his second career save, but allowed two singles and a walk that loaded the bases and brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the process.
The Indians will try to take their second straight contest from the Royals on Saturday night, as Scott Kazmir (4-4, 4.74) will take the mound for the Tribe. Former Indian first round pick Jeremy Guthrie (8-6, 4.12) will oppose him and take the hill for Kansas City. The game will start at 7:05 and will have postgame fireworks featuring the music of Jimmy Buffet. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Ohio and can be heard on the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Mark Duncan/Associated Press