CLEVELAND -- Starting pitcher Corey Kluber returned from the disabled list at the end of May and has been every bit of the leader the Cleveland Indians need him to be, especially with the rotation being in a state of flux because of injuries and ineffectiveness.
Kluber put that leadership on display when he registered 12 strikeouts, allowed just three hits, one earned run and one walk over eight innings of work in a 5-1 Indians win over the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field Thursday.
“I think that goes back to his work ethic and the way he works at his craft,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It’s not just by luck. It’s nice. We need it. We’ve had some ups and downs in our rotation, but he seemed like he’s getting on a roll at a really good time for us.”
Thursday’s win was Kluber’s fourth in the month of June and marked the sixth straight game in which he went at least six innings. In Kluber’s 12 starts this season, only once has he failed to make it through the sixth inning.
Kluber has struck out 25 batters over his last two starts and registered at least 10 strikeouts in all but one of his six June starts.
“He was tremendous,” Francona said. “The only thing was the 0-2 breaking ball to a really good hitter who kept his hands back just enough and whacked it pretty good. We’ve seen it before when he gets on a roll, and man, he seems like he’s right there now.
“It’s good because he wanted to get to a point where he could pitch every five days. Now, this next time, it’ll be an extra day, but he’s healthy. Giving him the ball on a night when you’re trying to stay away from Cody (Allen) and (Andrew) Miller, and he does that, it’s really big.”
The win over the Rangers marked the 30th time in Kluber’s career in which he collected 10 or more strikeouts. Kluber’s four straight 10-plus strikeouts performance tied an Indians record set by Hall of Famer Bob Feller during the 1938 and 1939 seasons.
Kluber recently registered his 1,000th career strikeout, and is currently tied with Luis Tiant for the 10th-most strikeouts in Indians history.
In his 30 10-plus strikeout performances, Kluber is 18-0 with a 1.45 earned run average, and the Indians are 54-0 when he gets four or more runs of support, a streak that dates back to June 11, 2013.
“On a day when I thought the ballpark was going to play really small, it’s a good thing he’s missing bats because some of the guys they have, if you got the ball up from right-center over, it was going to go out very easily,” Francona said.