Only a brief rain delay could slow down the Cleveland Indians on Monday night and that was just temporary as the Tribe bats bashed Baltimore for 12 runs on 17 hits and Corey Kluber completed a three-hit gem in a 12-0 drubbing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Rarely does a complete game three-hitter get lost in the shuffle, but that was nearly the case for Kluber on Monday as he faced just three batters over the minimum with nearly no-hit stuff, allowing just three two-out hits on a night that was delayed 29 minutes by rain at the outset. His 12th career complete game and fifth shutout gave him two this season, tying him for the Major League high. He did so with a diet of filth and plenty of run support as the Indians (37-31) extended their winning streak to a season-high six games and moved the team’s record to a new high-water mark on the year.
The first time through the order, both starting pitchers looked sharp. Kluber allowed a two-out single to Adam Jones in the first, while Baltimore’s ace Dylan Bundy worked around a one-out first inning single by Jason Kipnis and used a comebacker to erase Carlos Santana’s one-out walk in the second.
The second trip to the plate for the Tribe offense was much different. Jose Ramirez continued his pursuit of a trip to Miami in July with yet another double, as his one-out shot to right gave him two-baggers in seven straight games, the current length of his hitting streak. A double to left by Edwin Encarnacion put the Indians on the board, 1-0. Lonnie Chisenhall drilled a double of his own to right-center, giving him 12 RBI in June to extend the Cleveland lead. Santana walked and Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Bradley Zimmer went down swinging for the second out. With the inning hanging in the balance, Austin Jackson doubled to right to score a pair before the ninth man to bat, Francisco Lindor, lined to center to end the inning.
Kluber worked quickly through the fourth with his new four-run lead, striking out Mark Trumbo for his tenth straight batter set down before the Indians offense got back to work. Kipnis sent a 1-2 pitch from Bundy onto Eutaw Street, becoming the 50th visiting player and 90th player overall in the history of the ball park to clear the outer fence with a blast. Ramirez lined out deep to right before Encarnacion walked and former Indians minor leaguer Vidal Nuno took over for Bundy on the mound. A fly to center by Chisenhall recorded the second out, but Santana drove the next pitch over the wall in left for a two-run shot to give the Indians a seven-run lead. After a double by Gomes and an infield single by Zimmer, Jackson doubled in another run with a long bloop single just inside the right field line to make it 8-0. Lindor stepped in again as the ninth man to bat for the second consecutive inning, but his long hitless day at the plate continued with a fly to left to end the inning.
Kluber provided some déjà vu in the fifth, extending his consecutive batters retired streak to 13 straight with a swinging K of Welington Castillo and the offense continued to bludgeon Baltimore pitching. Kipnis started the next inning with a walk and went to third on a double by Ramirez, his second of the night to extend his multi-hit hitting streak to seven games as well. Encarnacion was intentionally walked and Chisenhall drove home another run with a single to center. Gabriel Ynoa entered to provide some relief for the Orioles, but did little of that initially, giving up a sacrifice fly to center by Santana as the Indians’ scoring onslaught reached double digits. Gomes struck out swinging for the second out, but Zimmer singled home a run as the Indians would send eight to the plate for a third straight frame.
Kluber allowed just his second hit of the ball game the bottom half of the inning as he retired the first two batters quickly before a single to left-center by Seth Smith. Manny Machado grounded the next ball to Santana at first to end the inning, but Kluber’s streak of 15 straight retired came to an end.
The Indians were finally contained in the seventh, despite a two-out triple by Ramirez to give him his fifth three-hit game during his current hitting streak. The bats threatened again against Ynoa in the eighth, but could not score despite loading the bases after back-to-back one-out hits from Santana and Gomes and a two-out walk by Jackson, but Lindor grounded to first to leave them stranded.
Baltimore notched its third and final hit in the bottom of the eighth, as Hyun Soo Kim singled to right with two down before being forced at second on the next pitch. Cleveland added a gift run the next half inning after Encarnacion reached safely on a two-out error and Chisenhall made it on board with an infield single after reliever Richard Bleier slipped. Both runner advanced on a wild pitch before the scuffling Daniel Robertson sent a grounder to short that was misplayed by newly called up Paul Janish, allowing Encarnacion to score the 12th and final run of the night.
Kluber ended in impressive fashion in the ninth, striking out the side swinging to give him eleven strikeouts on the night and his sixth win of the season. He used 20 swinging strikes and 80 strikes in total out of the 108 pitches thrown to keep the Orioles contained with just three hits, no walks, and no runners past first base in his complete game effort.
Bundy took his sixth loss of the season as the Orioles dropped them back below the .500 mark at 34-35 on the year. The right-hander made his worst start of the season, lasting four and one-third innings while allowing six runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts on the night. Teammate Nuno was tagged for five runs on six hits with a pair of walks in just two-thirds of an inning.
Seven of the nine Indians starters recorded at least two hits on the night. Ramirez led the way with three extra base hits and two runs scored. Chisenhall had two singles and a double while driving in two. Encarnacion notched the 1,500th hit of his Major League career with his RBI-double, walked twice, and scored four runs on the night. Santana hit his ninth homer, singled, and walked to reach four times, while Kipnis, Gomes, Zimmer, and Jackson would all record two hits each and the latter plated three. The team was 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base, despite putting up a dozen runs.
The Indians will aim for a seventh straight win on Tuesday night in game two of the four-game set from Maryland. Josh Tomlin (4-8, 5.83 ERA) will get the start for Cleveland, looking for his first win against Baltimore since 2012. Struggling right-hander Chris Tillman (1-5, 8.07) will counter for the Orioles. The former AL All-Star started the season on the shelf and has had little success since, dropping each of his last five outings while failing to pitch into the seventh in any appearance.
First pitch from Oriole Park at Camden Yard is scheduled for a 7:05 PM ET first pitch.
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images