May the Fours Be With Klubes; Indians 4, Tigers 0
Bob Toth | On 04, May 2016
Pushed by the force of a four-run fourth inning, Corey Kluber went the distance and delivered a five-hit complete game shutout as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night by a 4-0 final.
After quietly retiring the Indians in order through the first three innings, Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez ran into his first difficult inning, and really the only tough one he would see on the night.
He walked the leadoff man Carlos Santana for the second straight plate appearance. Jason Kipnis struck out swinging before Francisco Lindor was hit by a pitch on the left elbow. Michael Brantley singled to right, scoring Santana to get the Tribe on the scoreboard first. Mike Napoli sent a double deep the opposite way to right to score Lindor and move Brantley to third. A wild pitch with Yan Gomes at the plate allowed Brantley to score and Gomes would double to straightaway center over the head of Anthony Gose to plate Napoli and give the Indians a four-run fourth. Lonnie Chisenhall flied to right and Juan Uribe grounded to short to end the threat.
Sanchez would settle down, retiring nine straight before a single to Chisenhall and walk to Uribe in the bottom of the seventh. But the Indians and Kluber had more than enough on this night.
Kluber allowed a first inning single to Miguel Cabrera, but ran into major trouble in the second inning when he lost track of the strike zone. Justin Upton grounded out to start the inning before Nick Castellanos singled to left. Nine straight balls would leave the hand of Kluber, with walks to James McCann and Gose to load the bases. He found himself in the nick of time, getting Jose Iglesias to ground to Napoli at first. Napoli threw home for the force for the second out and Kluber struck out Ian Kinsler swinging to escape the tight rope walk.
In the fourth, the Tigers briefly threatened after a leadoff double from Upton that was misplayed in center by Naquin and a single from Castellanos put runners on the corners with nobody out. McCann grounded to Uribe, who held Upton at third, fired to second for the force, and Kipnis turned it for the twin killing. With a run still 90 feet away, Kluber struck out Gose looking to end it.
“Those are obviously big plays in the game,” said Kluber in the postgame interview. “When they’ve got runners in scoring position and you can make good plays to prevent them from scoring, that gives the pitcher a boost, but I think the whole team a boost as well.”
After preventing the scoring opportunity, the Indians put their damage on the scoreboard.
“[Sanchez] was throwing the ball well. Nine up, nine down,” said Napoli postgame. “We had our opportunities, got a big hit, and I was just trying to put a ball out in the outfield to get another run. Then Gomer came up and scored me. Hitting is contagious. When we get on a roll like that, it’s a good feeling and you just roll with it.”
Over the final five innings, Kluber faced the minimum, giving up just a sixth inning single to Victor Martinez, who was erased on a double play grounder. He struck out Upton swinging to end his complete game gem.
The win propels the Indians back to the .500 mark once again at 12-12. They are now an even 5-5 at Progressive Field this season and are a surprising 5-0 against the Tigers this season. The Tigers fall to 14-12 on the season and 9-6 on the road.
“I don’t know that we’re necessarily looking at it as we’re 5-0 against them,” said Kluber. “I think we won tonight’s game and tomorrow’s gonna start fresh and try to win tomorrow’s game. Obviously you want to play well against the teams in your division. But I don’t think we’re trying to carry on what happened when we were in Detroit. It starts over every time you play a team.”
KLUBER FOR THE WIN
Kluber (2-3, 3.35 ERA) earned his second win of the season behind nine scoreless innings. He allowed five hits and walked two but struck out seven. He threw 77 of 111 pitches for strikes. Fourteen of the 27 outs retired by Kluber came on three pitches or less.
“I think the way he threw the ball bodes well moving forward,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Mickey [Callaway] said coming out of the bullpen he had his best offspeed by far. Good first inning. When he got into the stretch in the second, he lost the plate for a couple of hitters, but he pitched out of it. Then, there were a couple little…where he’d yank a fastball. But other than that, he was throwing a ton of strikes, he pitched in, he used his breaking ball, it was really fun to watch. We’ve seen when he gets going, and he gets in that rhythm and routine, what he can do every fifth day.”
It was the eighth career complete game for Kluber and his second shutout. He has allowed one run on seven hits in 17 innings against the dangerous Tigers lineup in 2016.
The Indians have now won 32 straight games when they provide Kluber with four or more runs in his start.
ONE BAD INNING SPELLS DOOM
Sanchez (3-3, 5.87) was a tough luck loser, victimized by the fourth inning onslaught from Cleveland. He allowed four runs on four hits over seven innings, walked three, and struck out seven.
With his second inning single, Detroit’s Castellanos extended his road hitting streak to 13 games, tops in baseball. He was the only player in the game to register more than one hit on the night.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, the Indians re-acquired their former catcher Chris Gimenez for the third time, and the second time from the Texas Rangers. He had been designated for assignment by the Rangers on Tuesday and was dealt to Cleveland for cash considerations. He will serve as the backup to Gomes with Roberto Perez out with a fractured right thumb. Catcher Adam Moore, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Columbus on Sunday, was designated for assignment by the Indians to make room on the roster for Gimenez.
The Indians will go for the sweep…again…of the Tigers on Thursday night, as right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-0, 5.28) gets the start for Cleveland against Detroit right-hander Michael Fulmer (1-0, 3.60). First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Ron Schwane