Kluber Shuts Down Rays in Shutout Win for Tribe; Indians 3, Rays 0

Corey Kluber settled in for a dominant start, Edwin Encarnacion homered late, and Cleveland tacked on a couple of insurance runs off of the Tampa bullpen on Friday night as the Indians defeated the Rays in a 3-0 shutout.

It was a return to form for a fresh-faced Kluber, who blanked the Rays over seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight batters to move to 17-7 on the season while earning his first win after shaving his notable, sizable beard for the first time this year. He was gripped in a tight pitching battle with young right-hander Tyler Glasnow, making his sixth start for the Rays since coming over in the Chris Archer trade at the end of July, but it would be a solo shot from Encarnacion that broke the ice and tilted the scales just in favor of the Tribe, which completed its 14th shutout of the year.

For six innings, it was a pitchers’ duel at Progressive Field. Kluber flirted with danger early as former Tribe prospect Joey Wendle started the game by extending his hitting streak to six games with a first pitch single and he was joined on the base paths on a four-pitch walk by Matt Duffy, but Kluber settled down to strike out Ji-Man Choi before a big double play grounder to third by Tommy Pham.

Kluber retired nine batters in a row for ten total outs before the Rays threatened again in the fourth. Choi walked with one out and moved to second on a single by Pham, but Jake Bauers struck out looking and C.J. Cron flied out to left. It would be the Rays’ last threat of the night, as Kluber retired the final eleven that he faced in order before turning the game over to the bullpen in the eighth.

Encarnacion – J. Miller/Getty Images

Glasnow faced the minimum through the first four and two-thirds innings, allowing only a second inning walk to Yonder Alonso before erasing him on an inning-ending double play ball. He gave up his first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth, when Melky Cabrera slapped a single under the glove of the diving Willy Adames at short for a two-out hit. He moved into scoring position on a stolen base, but Jason Kipnis struck out swinging to end the brief threat.

The Indians got another runner on in the sixth when Greg Allen was hit in the right leg near the shin guard, but he was stranded at first as Francisco Lindor flied to right and Michael Brantley grounded to first.

Glasnow, with just three runners allowed through the first six and only two over the minimum, got back to work with a groundout by Jose Ramirez to start the seventh, but Encarnacion got a first pitch breaking ball and drove it the opposite way to the seats in front of the bullpens in right-center for a solo shot to break the scoreless tie.

Cody Allen retired the side in order as the first man out of the bullpen in the eighth and got a well-deserved ovation from the crowd, some of whom may have been responsible for the boo birds during his outing on Thursday afternoon.

The Indians got the offense going again in the bottom of the inning, this time in less conventional fashion with a two-out assisted rally. Ryne Stanek entered in relief for former Indians coach Kevin Cash, who took Glasnow out after 79 pitches tossed in seven strong innings of two-hit baseball. Stanek got the first two batters outs in the air before G. Allen singled to left. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before Lindor drew a walk. Lindor picked off second on a wild pitch that bounced away from former Tribe backstop Adam Moore, just up from Triple-A Durham, and Allen was able to score standing from third on the play to make it 2-0. Brantley lined the next pitch back up the middle and into center field for an RBI-single to give Cleveland a cushion at 3-0.

Brad Hand pitched an uneventful ten-pitch ninth, striking out Wendle, getting Duffy to ground back to the mound, and retiring Choi on a grounder to first to end the ball game.

The Indians (77-57) won their second straight and improved to 3-1 on their current nine-game homestand. They are now 42-25 on the season at home. The Rays (71-63) moved to 30-39 away from home and fell to 21.5 games in back of Boston in the AL East.

Kluber – J. Miller/Getty Images

Kluber was on cruise control and might not have exited after seven had the Indians not taken the 1-0 lead on the 29th home run of the season by Encarnacion. He worked seven innings, allowing the two singles and two walks while striking out eight. He threw 109 pitches, 70 for strikes, and was able to work around a young and aggressive Rays lineup, one that could have done damage against him as his numbers early in counts have not been favorable this season.

Hand’s save was his seventh with the Tribe and 31st of the campaign. Allen threw eight of nine pitches for strikes and looked to be much more in command while facing the bottom third of the Rays lineup on Friday.

Glasnow took a tough loss, his second with the Rays since moving to the organization and back into a starting role. He worked seven innings, allowing a run on two hits with a walk and one hit batter. He struck out six and kept the Indians off-balance throughout the night.

Prior to the game, the Rays recalled the veteran Moore from Durham and placed rookie catcher Michael Perez on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

Late in the contest, internet reports indicated that the Indians had acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays. Neither team had confirmed the deal at the time of this story. Donaldson was doing rehab work at High-A Dunedin at the time of the proposed trade, which happened just hours before the expiration of the waivers trade deadline.

The Indians will see the best that the Rays have to offer, pitching wise, on Saturday night in a 7:10 PM ET start from Progressive Field as rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (8-2, 4.52 ERA) takes on All-Star left-hander Blake Snell (16-5, 2.05). Bieber survived three home runs by the Royals in his last start, allowing four runs over five and one-third innings to earn his eighth win of the season. Snell completed an incredible August, working in five games while posting a 4-0 record with a 1.04 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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