CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber is known for his stoicism and laser-like focus on the mound, but after throwing seven innings of shut-out baseball in a 6-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, there was no more holding back.
In speaking with the media after the win, which gave the Indians a 2-0 lead over the Red Sox in the best-of-five series, Kluber explained how much joy he found in making his first-ever postseason start.
“It was a blast,” Kluber said. “It was obviously a great atmosphere, just like it was last night. I enjoyed it. I think that it was a lot of fun to have a crowd like that, especially that was that into the game.”
Although Kluber did not surrender a run to the Red Sox, he did have to work around some trouble thanks to three walks.
After facing the minimum of nine batters over the first three innings, Kluber walked Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts and faced designated hitter David Ortiz with just one out in the inning. However, Kluber got Ortiz to pop out and struck out first baseman Hanley Ramirez to end the threat.
He again had to pitch with runners on base in the top of the fifth and sixth innings, but did not allow a hit after the hitters reached safely.
“A couple of walks, kind of shot myself in the foot there, put us in a hole,” Kluber said. “Got Ortiz to pop out to shallow center and then with Ramirez, just a matter of trying to execute good pitches. He's obviously a very good hitter and he's swinging the bat really well right now. Trying to, if anything, limit damage, you know, and in the end, we were able to get out with no damage.”
Prior to his start against the Red Sox, Kluber had not pitched in 10 days after straining a muscle in his right leg. But knowing that his bullpen had four-plus innings of work in Game 1 and with the rotation depleted because of injury, he pitched like the ace the team needed him to be in Game 2.
Over seven-plus innings of work, Kluber allowed just three hits and three walks against seven strikeouts and worked his way around multiple jams, each time closing the door on the Red Sox each time and putting the Indians in position to win.
The seven-inning outing was Kluber’s first-ever postseason start, and it came against a Red Sox lineup loaded with power hitters and World Series Championship experience. However, Kluber did not surrender an extra-base hit to Boston in the win.
“I didn't really have any concerns about it,” Kluber said. “I got after it pretty good my last bullpen. And that was kind of the last hurdle, so to speak, I guess, was getting after it for some pitches. And I think once I was able to do that and not having any issues with it, it wasn't really in my mind. I think I was more focused on trying to go out there and execute a game plan.”