Kluber Tosses Award-Worthy Performance; Indians 1, Rays 0
Mike B. | On 26, Sep 2014
If the goal was to make his final impression a lasting one, Corey Kluber did a pretty fine job.
Kluber, making a late charge to win the American League Cy Young Award, pitched a shutout for eight innings and scattered five hits in defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, 1-0 Friday evening. The Indians’ best pitcher—and possibly the American League’s best—only needed a solo home run from little sparkplug, Jose Ramirez, for a first inning run off Rays starter Chris Archer.
In his first full season at the big league level, Kluber has grown from an average starting pitcher to a dominant ace. Despite missing the American League All-Star Game, he has outpitched the rest of the league in the second half. On Friday, he narrowly outpitched Archer. The Indians’ former farmhand only allowed two hits on the evening. After Ramirez’s first inning homer, singles by Carlos Santana and Mike Aviles were all the offense the Indians could muster.
Kluber scattered five hits and only faced a serious scoring threat from Tampa Bay in the fifth inning when Kevin Keirmaier hit his eighth triple of the season. However, Ryan Hanigan popped out in foul ground to end the threat. He allowed hits in the sixth and seventh inning, but then retired the final seven hitters in a row to end the game.
Now tied for the American League lead in wins, Kluber (18-9) pitched eight innings, allowing just five hits and two walks, while striking out 11. He becomes the first Indians pitcher in a century to strike out double-digit hitters in his final three starts of the season. His 11 games of 10+ striketouts or more ties him with Herb Score on the Tribe’s all-time list and he trails two seasons from Sam McDowell and one by Bob Feller.
The final impression for Cy Young voters was one that will give them something to think about before casting a ballot for Felix Hernandez. The former favorite for the award just a month ago has struggled of late, while Kluber has got much stronger. Kluber has been dominant with a 1.78 ERA in the second half of the season and leads all American League pitchers with a 6.9 WAR. He dropped his season long ERA from 2.53 to 2.44 this evening.
Archer (10-9) was a tough luck loser, tossing seven and two-third innings and allowing just three hits and the one run on Ramirez’s solo homer. The former Indians’ draft pick and Lake County Captain also struck out five. Archer was drafted by the Indians in 2006, but traded to the Chicago Cubs in Dec. 2008 for Mark Derosa.
Kluber’s 11 strikeouts in the game helped the Indians pitching staff set a new season record for strikeouts by a team in a season. Indians’ pitchers have struck out 1,176 batters this season.
Cody Allen pitched the ninth inning, earning his 24th save of the season. The win kept Cleveland’s playoff hopes alive for a couple more hours. They need Oakland to lose tonight to keep any mathematical hope alive of a postseason birth.
Michael Brantley did not record a hit in the game and remains one shy of 200 base hits for the season.
The Tribe will play game #161 on Saturday evening when Carlos Carrasco (8-6, 2.64) will make his final start of the season. He’ll be opposed by September callup, Alex Colome (1-0, 3.63) from Tampa Bay. Game time is slated for 6:05 p.m. from Progressive Field.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images