Kluber Cruises as Tribe Wins Season Series from Twins; Indians 7, Twins 1
Bob Toth | On 11, Sep 2016
Corey Kluber continued his pursuit of a second Cy Young Award with seven innings of one-run baseball as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins by a 7-1 final on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians’ ace continued his strong season with ten strikeouts in his outing to win his 16th game of the season. He passed the 200-strikeout mark for the third straight season, joining elite company Bob Feller, Sam McDowell, and Gaylord Perry in doing so in club history.
Cleveland’s offense gave him plenty of support on the mound, as they plated three in the second to give the right-hander a lead to work with early. Abraham Almonte reached on an infield single and moved up on a walk from Tyler Naquin. Roberto Perez dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt in front of the plate to move both runners up before Michael Martinez curiously popped up a bunt to Jose Berrios on the mound for the second out. With the inning hanging by a thread, Carlos Santana slugged a monstrous shot down the right field line and nearly out of the park altogether, giving him his 31st homer of the season and the Indians a 3-0 lead.
The Tribe tacked on more in the third, ending the afternoon of Berrios early. Francisco Lindor singled to right and moved to second on a walk by Mike Napoli. Lonnie Chisenhall grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Napoli forced at second for the first out. With Almonte at the plate, Berrios fired wild to first, where the ball got past first baseman James Beresford. Lindor scored easily on the error and Chisenhall advanced to second. Almonte struck out looking, but Paul Molitor hooked him for Pat Dean, who gave up an RBI-single to Naquin after a lengthy 12-pitch at bat to push the Cleveland lead to 5-0.
Kluber allowed two to reach in the first and two more in the third, when the Twins wasted an opportunity with one out. Brian Dozier reached on a single and Logan Schafer was hit in the bottom of his right foot to put two on, but Jorge Polanco flied out and Kennys Vargas struck out swinging to end the threat.
The Twins would strike for a run in the bottom of the fourth, but it was unearned. Eduardo Escobar walked with one out, but after a strikeout of Beresford by Kluber, Juan Centeno reached on a throwing error by third baseman Jose Ramirez to put runners on the corners. Byron Buxton jumped on the next pitch and singled to left, scoring Escobar to make it a 5-1 game.
Cleveland loaded the bases in the fifth, but could not score again in a situation with ducks on the pond. Almonte singled and Naquin walked, bringing on Pat Light for Dean. Perez singled to left to load the bases, but Martinez grounded into a force at home and Santana grounded to second to end the inning.
The Indians did not miss out on a chance for runs in the seventh, padding the big lead for Kluber. Almonte walked on four straight to start the inning against reliever Trevor May and stole second. Naquin struck out swinging for the first out, but Perez tripled to deep center to score a run and came in to score a second on a single to left by Martinez to make it 7-1.
Kluber wrapped up his afternoon with a pair of strikeouts and a pop out in the seventh before handing the reins over to Cody Anderson for the final two innings. The converted reliever struck out a pair in the eighth and worked an easy ninth, allowing a two-out single by Buxton before retiring pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman on a foul out to left.
The Indians (83-59) made up for season-long difficulties with the Twins (53-90) by taking two of three in Minnesota and five of the last six contests overall to finish the regular season with a 10-9 record over their divisional foe. Cleveland dropped its magic number to 14 games after their win and a loss in Detroit by the Tigers to the Baltimore Orioles. They have now won four of their last five games.
KLUBER ON CRUISE CONTROL
Kluber (16-9, 3.05 ERA) hit his 200th strikeout of the season in the third and tacked on more to that total. He struck out ten on the day while giving up four hits and two walks. The one run scored by the Twins was an unearned run in the quality outing for Kluber.
Kluber has now won 45 decisions in a row when being provided with four runs or more by the Indians offense.
The last four hitters in the Tribe lineup were 9-for-16 on Sunday with three RBI, four runs scored, and added three walks for good measure. Almonte had three singles in four at bats, while Naquin, Perez, and Martinez each had two-hit games.
COMMAND A PROBLEM FOR BERRIOS
Berrios (2-6, 9.27) was pitching from behind and pitching with traffic for much of the day after allowing three hits and four walks in two and two-thirds innings. He threw first pitch strikes to just six of the 15 batters that he faced and was hurt by two different plays that could have been ruled as errors on him. He was charged with one error and the other went to first baseman Beresford.
He allowed five runs (three earned) and struck out one in the loss.
DOZIER EXTENDS STREAK
Dozier extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games with his third inning infield single, opting not to wait until the 12th inning as he had on Saturday night.
The Indians announced prior to the game that left-handed pitcher Ryan Merritt and first baseman Jesus Aguilar had joined the club after the Triple-A playoff trip for the Columbus Clippers ended on Saturday with a 5-4 loss to the Gwinnett Braves in Georgia.
Aguilar entered the game at first base in the eighth inning, making his first appearance of the season with the Indians.
SEEKING THE SOX
The Indians now hit the road to Chicago, where they will play four straight against the White Sox.
Road warrior Carlos Carrasco (11-7, 3.15) will start game one of the set on Monday night against right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (3-6, 3.81). Carrasco brings with him the best road ERA and WHIP among starters in the American League with ten or more starts with a 2.02 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in eleven starts.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images