Kluber Makes Quick Work of Royals With Career Day; Indians 5, Royals 1
Craig Gifford | On 24, Apr 2014
The Indians bullpen, which has been much-used in the first few weeks of this season, was able to take a break on Thursday afternoon.
Tribe starter Corey Kluber made sure the Cleveland relievers would not have to take the mound, making quick work of the Kansas City Royals. The Indians hurler threw his first career complete game while striking out a career-high 11 batters, as Cleveland got back to .500 at 11-11 with a 5-1 victory at Progressive Field.
“He worked ahead and threw tons of strikes,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Kluber. “That was really impressive. He pounded the strike zone all day.”
The win gave the Tribe the series win as the team took three of four games from the Royals. After a 1-2 start to the seven-game homestand over the weekend against Toronto, Cleveland was able to finish with a 4-3 stretch at Progressive Field.
Kluber’s best Major League outing put him at 2-2 for the season. The lone Kansas City run was unearned as the 28-year-old saw his ERA drop to 3.90. Kluber did not walk a batter and surrendered just four hits in his masterful outing. He was never in danger of exiting the game, throwing 101 pitches, 75 for strikes. It was the first complete game of the season for an Indians starter.
“On a day game after a night game, with a quick turn around, to not even warm (a reliever) up is rare,” Francona said. “That was really fun to watch. (Kluber) had everything working.”
Royals starter Bruce Chen began the game on the same roll as Kluber. He matched the Tribe starter zero for zero through the first four frames. Cleveland’s offense finally got going in the fifth. The Tribe scored all five of its runs in the stanza.
Carlos Santana, who entered the game mired in a slump, led off frame with double and scored on a base hit from Cleveland’s Mr. Clutch, Michael Brantley. Ryan Raburn followed with a walk and Yan Gomes knocked a single to load the bases with no one out.
David Murphy, who has proven early on to be a sound free-agent acquisition, delivered a base hit that plated Brantley and Raburn. Gomes moved to second. Chen did not get the inning’s first out until Mike Aviles laid down a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position with just a single out. It proved a bit sacrifice as Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a two-run double, giving Kluber and the Indians a nice five-run cushion.
Santana’s double, however, seemed to be the key hit off Chen, a 36-year-old southpaw who has given the Indians hitters fits over the years.
“He’s the epitome of a crafty lefty,” Francona said. “Then Carlos had the good swing going the opposite way and Mikey got that bunt down. Sometimes little things turn into big things. We were able to string some hits together.”
Kluber just continued to cruise and made the lead stand up. Even when the Royals put their lone tally on the board in the seventh, it was no fault of Cleveland’s starter and only five batters came to the plate. With two out, Omar Infante delivered a single. Mike Moustakas followed with a grounder down the first base line that Nick Swisher could not cleanly field. It allowed Moustakas to get to second and Infante scored the unearned run. Kluber then took matters into his own hands, fanning Alcides Escobar to end any hope Kansas City had.
Kluber did not allow things to get interesting the rest of the way, sitting down the Royals in order in both the eighth and ninth innings, sending the home crowd away happy and quickly in a game that lasted just two hours and eight minutes.
The quick work Kluber did will help the Tribe get some extra rest as they now hit the road for a six-game west coast trip in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The trip begins tomorrow night with a 10:15 pm local start time against the Giants. Carlos Carrasco will take the mound against Tim Hudson.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images