Kluber Back on Track with Three-Hit Shutout of Angels; Indians 3, Angels 0

The Indians’ Corey Kluber controlled the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, firing a complete game shutout on just 98 pitches in a 3-0 win by Cleveland from Progressive Field.

While the Indians had a tough time at the plate against unfamiliar right-hander Felix Pena, Kluber made sure that his offense had plenty of time to get going as he limited the Angels to just five base runners on the night. He allowed three hits, walked one, and hit one while keeping the ball down and in the yard in a 98-pitch gem, accomplishing the rare “Maddux” by throwing a complete game under 100 pitches.

Kluber allowed just one base runner over the first two innings. He struck out a pair in the first, but after retiring the first five of the night, plunked David Fletcher with two outs in the second before getting Francisco Arcia to line out to first.

In the third, the Angels had their first real threat of the night. After Kaleb Cowart struck out looking to start the inning, Eric Young Jr. hit his second double in as many nights with a shot to left. Kole Calhoun walked to put two on for Justin Upton, who flied deep enough to right to move Young to third. With runners now on the corners, Shohei Ohtani grounded out to third to end the inning. The Angels would get a runner to second the next inning when Andrelton Simmons singled with one out, but he was stranded at second after back-to-back groundouts. Kluber retired the side in order in the fifth and worked around a two-out single by Albert Pujols in the sixth.

For five innings, the Indians offense was without a hit against Pena, a third-year righty who had previously worked in the bullpen of the Chicago Cubs. He had a tough time in the first, walking the first two batters of the home half, but Francisco Lindor was caught stealing before Michael Brantley walked and the latter was left at first after two outs in the air. After retiring eight straight, Pena walked Brantley for a second time to start the bottom of the fourth, but two more balls in the air and a grounder to short would leave Brantley at second. Pena set down the side in order again in the fifth.

Things changed quickly in the sixth for Cleveland, incidentally after the Progressive Field scoreboard operator pulled the jinx card and displayed for fans in attendance that Pena was throwing a no-hitter through five. Leonys Martin, leading off the inning, worked the count to 3-1 before driving a two-seamer to right-center for his second homer in as many nights, ending the no-hitter and the shutout with the solo shot. Lindor followed with a double to left-center and he came in to score on a single by Brantley. Pena retired Jose Ramirez for the first out before he was lifted for Jim Johnson, who got the final two outs of the frame.

The Indians added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh against Hansel Robles. Melky Cabrera drew a leadoff walk and was lifted for pinch-runner Brandon Guyer, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jason Kipnis walked and both runners moved up on a sacrifice by Roberto Perez. A passed ball on the catcher Arcia allowed both runners to scamper 90 feet, with Guyer crossing the plate for the third Indians’ run of the day. Robles stopped the bleeding there, striking out Martin swinging before getting Lindor to ground to short.

Kluber & Perez – David Maxwell/Getty Images

Kluber would retire the final ten batters that he faced in order after the Pujols single in the sixth to get the rare opportunity to shake hands with his catcher after the final out of the game.

The Indians earned win number 60 on the season against 49 losses and evened the series with the Angels at a game apiece. Los Angeles fell to 55-57 on the season and is now 16 games off of the pace in the AL West.

Kluber improved to 14-6 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.63 with nine innings of shutout baseball. He struck out seven on the night and threw 64 of his 98 pitches for strikes. Pena was dealt his third loss of the campaign, despite a good showing overall. He threw five innings of no-hit baseball until the Indians erupted for a pair of runs on three hits to start the sixth inning. He allowed three hits and three walks in total while striking out one.

The Angels played their third straight game without the services of Mike Trout, who is still nursing a sore wrist from a stolen base attempt on Wednesday. The Indians were without starting catcher Yan Gomes, who has been dealing with a hamstring issue.

Both Los Angeles teams were on the losing end of three-hit shutouts on Saturday, as the Dodgers were drilled by the Houston Astros by a 14-0 final.

The Indians and Angels will wrap up their season series on Sunday afternoon in a 1:10 PM ET first pitch. Cleveland will call on rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (5-2, 4.73 ERA), who took just the second no-decision of his career his last time out when he allowed four runs in six and one-third innings to the Minnesota Twins. The Angels placed probable starter Tyler Skaggs on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday and will instead call up 29-year-old right-hander Deck McGuire (0-1, 6.12) from Triple-A Salt Lake to make the spot start against the Tribe.

Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images

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