The 2017 regular season did not get off to the greatest of starts for Cleveland Indians ace pitcher Corey Kluber, but after a rocky beginning, he settled into a nice rhythm against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park Monday night.
Kluber allowed six hits and five earned runs along with three walks over six innings of work, but set down the final 10 batters and 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced on his way to a no decision in the 8-5 comeback win over the Rangers.
“I just made an adjustment,” Kluber said. “I wasn’t spinning the ball very well, so I just tried to adjust to that. Really, at that point in time, I was trying to keep the team in the game.
“With our lineup, if you can keep the team in the game, you’ve got a good chance. Once that third inning got out of hand, I just kind of tried to take that approach, tried to keep them in it, give them a chance to come back, which obviously, they did a good job of.”
Cleveland Indians' Corey Kluber finishes strong in season opener
The Rangers tried to get something going with their speed on the bases in the bottom of the first inning, and when that did not work, they broke out the bats in their second trip to the plate.
Down in a two-strike hole, second baseman Rougned Odor worked the count full before belting a pitch from Kluber, a finalist for the 2016 American League Cy Young Award, over the wall in right field for a solo home run and 1-0 lead.
Although the Indians evened the score in their next at-bat, the tie did not last long, as the Rangers went back to what they do best, clubbing home runs in their home park.
On the first pitch of the bottom of the third inning, center fielder Carlos Gomez crushed an offering from Kluber into seats in right field, but the Rangers were far from done putting runs on the board.
Right fielder Nomar Mazara followed with a single to shallow center field and former Indians first baseman/designated hitter Mike Napoli drew a walk after five pitches from Kluber, which put two runners on for Odor, who belted a three-run home run to right field and gave the Rangers a 5-1 lead.
“His line’s not going to look great,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He tried to sneak a fastball by Odor that probably wasn’t the best idea, but after he gave up the runs, he stayed out there. We had Armstrong warming up early. We get to a point in the game where we can go to Otero and the lefties and Cody. I think he deserves a lot of credit for not giving up more.”
In Kluber’s final inning of work, Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo drew a two-out walk and stole second base, but the Indians’ ace got shortstop Elvis Andrus to line out to left field to finish the frame and end the threat.
“I wanted to give him a chance to finish that inning,” Francona said. “He had worked so hard. I knew he was starting to feel it. He battled those last couple innings, but I wanted to give him a chance to get out of his own inning.”