CHICAGO -- For the second time this postseason, the Cleveland Indians are turning to their ace, Corey Kluber, on short rest, as he will take the ball for Game 4 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs tonight at Wrigley Field after making the start in a Game 1 win Tuesday night.
But having been through the process of pitching on short rest in the postseason once before, Kluber is ready to face off against the Cubs with the chance to give the Indians 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with a win.
“I think you could probably ask anybody on either team and they’re going to pitch whenever they’re called upon at this point in time,” Kluber said. “It’s the last series of the year. It’s the World Series. I think you’d be really hard pressed to find somebody who didn’t want to go out there and pitch.”
In his first short-rest start of the postseason, Kluber surrendered just two earned runs along with four hits and two walks against seven strikeouts in five innings of a tough-luck loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
“Now that I do know that I felt fine, it’s just a matter of using those three days to recover,” Kluber said. “I’ll be fine, and then, just go out there and pitch.
“It’s just basically doing the same stuff in one less day. The sides are a little shorter and things like that, but still able to get in the things I need to get in in-between. I don’t really feel like the last time I did, it made a big difference in the way I felt the day I pitched.”
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Over six-plus innings of work in the Indians’ 6-0 Game 1 win over the Cubs, Kluber surrendered just four hits. He registered nine strikeouts and did not allow a run or walk. It was the third time in four starts this postseason that Kluber did not give up a run.
Eight of those strikeouts came in the first three innings, which broke a World Series record. Orlando Hernandez and Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Randy Johnson each registered seven strikeouts over the first three innings of a World Series game.
Also, the nine strikeouts set the Indians’ franchise record for the most punch-outs in a World Series game. The previous record of seven was set by Orel Hershiser in the 1995 World Series and equaled by fire-baller Jaret Wright during Game 7 of the 1997 Fall Classic.
During the first two rounds of the postseason, Kluber registered 20 strikeouts against seven walks and allowed just two earned runs over 18.1 innings of work in three starts. Kluber has a 3-1 postseason record, with wins coming against the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the Blue Jays in the ALCS ahead of Tuesday’s victory over Chicago.
“I think that it’s just as fun and exciting as we all imagined it would be,” Kluber said of pitching in the postseason. “I think that you try to take the work in-between as normal as you can. Obviously, there are off-days and stuff like that built in, but you still try to just get your win in, get ready, and when you go out there, it’s fun.
“There’s a great atmosphere, a lot of intensity around the game and stuff, but with that being said, these are environments that we always work towards playing in. Whether it be Spring Training or the offseason, the goal is to get to this point.”