Quality Stuff Again from Kluber as Tribe Trounces Tigers; Indians 9, Tigers 2
Bob Toth | On 10, Jun 2018
Corey Kluber gave the Indians eight innings of quality two-run baseball and he was backed by some big efforts in the Cleveland lineup in a 9-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon.
Kluber’s pursuits of a third Cy Young Award continued on Sunday in the series finale from Comerica Park, where the 32-year-old right-hander handled the Tigers with relative ease, pitching effectively in a balanced attack on the mound. His big effort gave him his tenth win of the season against two losses in 14 starts, taking over the American League lead in victories while matching Washington’s Max Scherzer for the Major League lead. It marked the 14th straight quality start this season for Kluber.
Kluber struck out a pair in the first before his teammates gave him an early lead. Francisco Lindor ended a long slump at the plate with a single to right off of Detroit starter Artie Lewicki before stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error. A ground rule double by Yonder Alonso put the Indians on the board, 1-0. Lonnie Chisenhall moved Alonso to third with a grounder to second and Melky Cabrera started his good day at the plate with a sacrifice fly to center, driving in the second run of the inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead.
The Tribe ace run into a little difficulty in the third after a perfect second inning with three fly ball outs. John Hicks singled to right to start the inning before a fly out by Jose Iglesias. JaCoby Jones moved the Tigers’ catcher to third with a double to right and a groundball from Leonys Martin scored Hicks to make it a 2-1 game. With a runner at third and two outs, Kluber got the out that he needed, striking out Nicholas Castellanos.
The Indians got the run back in the top of the fourth against Lewicki. Lindor singled with one out and stole second. Alonso walked and Chisenhall singled to load the bases. Cabrera lifted his second sacrifice fly of the game to center, scoring Lindor to make it 3-1. Roberto Perez reloaded the bases when he reached on a fielding error at first by the Tigers’ Cabrera, but Erik Gonzalez grounded out to second to leave the bags full.
Kluber worked around a one-out single by Jeimer Candelario in the bottom of the fourth, as he was thrown out by Cabrera trying to stretch it to two bases. The Indians missed a chance to tack on in the fifth, as Greg Allen singled and stole second, but was thrown out trying to tag up to third on a fly out to left by Michael Brantley. Jose Ramirez followed with a triple that would have plated Allen, but he was stranded as Lindor flied out.
Kluber retired the Tigers in order in the fifth before his offense broke the game open for good. Against reliever Drew VerHagen, Chisenhall singled and moved to third on a double by Cabrera. Perez was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Gonzalez unloaded them with a double to deep center before he was tagged out after a big turn at second. Allen struck out to end the inning, but the Indians doubled their score to 6-1.
The Tigers got their last run of the day in the bottom of the sixth, when Martin took Kluber deep to right with one out to make it a 6-2 game.
Cleveland wasted a two-out double by Lindor in the seventh, but added on again in the eighth against Zac Reininger. Chisenhall got his third hit of the day with a single to right and moved to second on an error by Castellanos. Cabrera knocked in his third RBI of the day with a single to right and he got to trot the rest of the way around the bases as Yan Gomes homered in his first at bat of the day to make it a 9-2 game. Gonzalez followed with his second straight double, but he would be stranded.
Kluber took the mound for the final time in the eighth, giving up a single to Hicks before Iglesias reached on an error by Ramirez. A groundout to second moved both runners into scoring position before Kluber struck out Martin and got Castellanos to fly out deep to Cabrera in left.
The Indians (34-29) pushed their lead back out to five games over the Tigers (31-36) in the division with the victory.
MORE KLUBER STATS
Kluber worked eight innings of two-run baseball on the afternoon (his second eight-inning outing against Detroit this season), giving up five hits, issuing zero walks, and striking out eight while throwing 76 of 106 pitches for strikes. His ERA for the season sits at 1.99 after his decision.
“I think he just keeps working on his game and elevating it in places where he can,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “This is one of them. To beat him, you have to string together a bunch of hits, which is hard to do against him.”
Kluber has not allowed more than four runs in a start since July 29, 2017, when the Chicago White Sox scored four runs against him in a no-decision (in a game won by the Tribe, 5-4), a span of 26 consecutive starts. Just three times in 29 starts last season did he allow more than three runs in a game.
He has now faced 168 straight batters over a span of 43 1/3 innings without issuing a walk. He last walked Domingo Santana of the Brewers during his first start against Milwaukee this season on May 8.
With his second victory over the Tigers in as many starts this season, Kluber is now 5-0 against the AL Central this year with a 0.76 ERA.
LEWICKI LOSES SECOND
Lewicki made his second consecutive start for the Tigers and took his second straight defeat. He worked five innings, allowing three runs on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts. VerHagen and Reininger each allowed three runs on four hits in their outings before a scoreless ninth from Farmer.
BIG BATS FOR TRIBE
The Indians had big days from the cleanup spot and from the bottom of the order.
Lindor went 3-for-5 with two singles, a double, two stolen bases, and two runs scored. The improved performance at the plate ended an 0-for-20 coming in. It marked his tenth three-hit game of the season, tying him for the third-most in the American League this year.
Chisenhall had a three-hit game and scored a pair of runs. Cabrera had two hits, scored twice, and knocked in three, with two coming off of a pair of sacrifice flies. Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three runs batted in.
“Those are things that certainly help your team,” said Francona. “Melky did some really good things filling in in left. It was a good win.”
MISSING IN ACTION
Perez exited the game in the bottom of the sixth inning after being hit in the right hand/wrist by a pitch in the top of the frame. He initially remained in the game and came around to score with a slide on the three-run double from Gonzalez, but he was lifted for Gomes.
“Berto got hit pretty hard. We’re going to have a lot of conversations tonight,” said Francona. “They sent the x-rays to Dr. Graham. It’s a little ambiguous right now. There’s a decent chance we dodged a bullet. He really got hit hard. By the time I saw him, it had already turned purple.”
The Indians also played without the services of both Edwin Encarnacion and Jason Kipnis. Encarnacion was held out with an ankle injury, while Kipnis was again inactive due to a neck issue. Brantley hit in the designated hitter spot, while Lindor hit cleanup in Encarnacion’s absence. Gonzalez started at second for Kipnis.
WINDING UP IN THE WINDY CITY
With their road trip off to a successful start, the Indians will head to Chicago to take on the White Sox with a four-game series from Guaranteed Rate Field beginning Monday night.
Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 4.23 ERA) will take the ball first for the Tribe in the series, followed by the return of Adam Plutko from Triple-A Columbus. Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer will make starts in the back half of the four-game set.
First pitch from Chicago is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET on Monday night.
Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images