Indians starter Corey Kluber fired a complete game three-hitter and was backed by a half dozen early runs as Cleveland had the right equation in a 6-2 victory over the Angels in Anaheim on Friday night.
The Indians were already out to a big lead before their next door neighbors in Cleveland, the NBA’s Cavaliers, had wrapped up their disappointing 108-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors. It felt like unusual territory for Tribe fans familiar with the lack of run support given to Kluber over the last several seasons.
With former All-Star left-hander Hector Santiago on the mound, the Indians struck quickly. Jason Kipnis singled with one out and scored on a two-out double from Mike Napoli. Carlos Santana kept the line moving with a double of his own, scoring Napoli to make it 2-0. Jose Ramirez sent a 0-2 pitch back into center for an RBI-single and advanced to second on the throw to the plate. He stole third before Juan Uribe reached on a throwing error by third baseman Yunel Escobar and the Indians had a big four-run burst with two outs for a sizeable lead for Kluber, all before throwing his first pitch of the night.
Escobar made up some for his run-scoring error in the first with a double off of Kluber off of the wall in center field to lead off the home half of the first. He moved to third on a groundout from Kole Calhoun and scored on a groundout to first by Mike Trout.
Three straight hits off of Santiago to start the second turned into more runs and more fun for the Indians as they aggressively attacked the Halos’ starter. Michael Martinez singled and moved to third on a double to left by Rajai Davis. Kipnis singled on just the fifth pitch of the inning, moving Martinez across the plate, and Francisco Lindor lifted a fly ball to center, scoring Davis to give the Indians a 6-1 advantage.
Santiago, who was bent over in pain early in the first inning, got the hook after walking former Angel Napoli.
It was more than enough for Kluber, who allowed a one-out walk to Johnny Giavotella in the bottom of the second before setting down 12 straight hitters. Escobar singled with one out in the bottom of the sixth to end that streak. Calhoun moved him to third on a single to right before a wild pitch allowed the second run of the night to score for LA.
After that second run, Kluber contained Trout and Albert Pujols to start another long string of eleven consecutive batters retired to close out the game.
The win for the Indians (34-26) now puts them at a 3-2 mark on their current ten-game road trip. More importantly, it padded their lead in the AL Central, as both the Tigers and Royals lost. The White Sox, whose win came against Kansas City, hopped over each club in the standings to remain at three and a half games out and in second place.
The Angels (26-36) have now dropped five straight games after being swept in a four-game set in New York during the week. They are a season-worst nine games below the .500 mark.
KLUBER IN CONTROL
It may have been a long time coming (2014…), but Kluber (6-6, 3.65 ERA) has finally returned to the .500 mark on the mound with the big win to start the series against the struggling Angels.
He controlled nearly every facet of the game in his complete game effort, allowing just three hits and a walk. He did have a balk and the wild pitch allowed a run to score, but it occurred with the game well in control in the sixth. He struck out eight batters, including Carlos Perez and Gregorio Petit twice.
“When you get that big a lead, my goal is to go out there and attack the zone,” said Kluber after the game. “If they’re going to beat us, make them swing the bats. That’s the goal every time out, but especially when you’ve got a five-run lead early on in the game.”
It was the first win of his career against Los Angeles.
SECOND COMPLETE GAME
It was the second complete game of the season and the ninth of his career for Kluber, who used 114 pitches and 73 strikes to take care of the Angels. Twenty-two of the 31 batters he faced saw a first pitch strike.
“He did exactly what you’re supposed to, pounding the zone,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “It’s nice to let him pitch like that. He rested our bullpen. Those are some pretty big bats over there, especially up the middle. He did a great job.”
SANTIAGO CHASED EARLY
Santiago (3-4, 5.64), who had familiarity with the Indians after spending time with the Chicago White Sox earlier in his career, was in trouble from the jump, even after heading back from New York City a day early to rest and prepare for the game while the team wrapped up its four-game set in the Big Apple on Thursday.
“He had a chance to get out of that first inning and couldn’t get that last out,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said following the game. “Hector has had a little rough patch here for sure.”
He was charged with six runs (five earned) on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in one and one-third innings.
BURN THE BULLPEN
The short outing from Santiago forced the club to burn five bullpen arms. Deolis Guerra, briefly claimed by the Indians off of waivers last August from Pittsburgh, was the most successful of the bunch at eating innings, retiring eight batters in the game. Jose Alvarez pitched two innings, allowing a pair of hits and striking out three.
“It’s frustrating, for sure,” said Santiago. “Right now it just seems like it’s snowballing and carrying over from start to start. It seems like it’s going through everybody. Tonight was just bad. The last five starts have been very frustrating. You try to go out there and be better, and it just seems like it’s not happening right now.”
KIPNIS IN THE CLUTCH
Kipnis had his 31st RBI of the season and a strong day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three singles to push his batting average up to .271.
GOMES RETURNS TO LINEUP
Yan Gomes returned to the lineup behind the plate for the Tribe on Friday. He had been out most of the series against Seattle after taking a foul tip between the legs. He went 0-for-4 to drop his batting average for the year to .172. He and Lindor were the only two Indians to not reach base.
The middle game of the series is set for another 10:05 PM ET start as the Indians make their way through their first big west coast trip of the season.
Matt Shoemaker (3-7, 5.40) will take the mound looking to get both himself and his Angels club back on the right track. He has not walked a batter in his last four outings (30 1/3 innings), but gave up a pair of homers in a loss to the Yankees on Monday. Trevor Bauer (4-2, 3.88) will oppose for the Tribe.
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images
This Post Has 2 Comments
I don’t know when to start & when to sit Kluber on my Fantasy Team.I’ve sat him during weeks like this & I got burned again.Its not the first time it’s happened this year either.He has thrown Quality Starts lately so I’ve got a little more faith in him as of late.Also had Napoli go iced cold on me after picking him up this week,I sat Wil Myers who had a monster week.Have had Kipnis all year & he’s alternated one good week with one bad week.Picked up Jose Ramirez before this week & put him in the OF,he’s been eh(that’s the correct way it’s said & spelled,btw,NOT MEH) this week.Have gotten nothing this week from my offense plus a bunch of disappointing NDs & Ls.Didn’t expect a good week but didn’t think it would be this bad.I’m in the same situation with Archer as Kluber but worse.
This is the first year that I stepped away from fantasy baseball because of having too much on my plate and reading statements like this reminds me why I don’t miss it all that much. It’s fun, but infuriating!