CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber continues to make franchise history since his return from a month-long stay on the disabled list early in the summer.
In Sunday’s 8-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays (44-54) at Progressive Field, Kluber struck out 14 batters, allowed just two walks, scattered five hits and surrendered one earned run over 7.2 innings of work on the way to his eighth win of the season.
“Oh boy, we’ve seen him pretty good,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He’s throwing the ball good, that’s for sure, but he’s kind of set the bar pretty high. In this game, when you’re consistent, that’s a good thing.”
Now in his seventh Major League season, Kluber has been the rock of the Indians’ rotation for several years, but after returning to the team following a lower back strain that cost him multiple starts, he has regained the form that made him an American League Cy Young Award finalist last year and an All-Star in back-to-back seasons.
In a tough-luck 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres at Progressive Field on July 4, Kluber struck out 10 hitters, and in doing so, set a new Indians record for the most consecutive 10-plus strikeout performances (five).
Despite taking his third loss of the season, Kluber allowed only one walk, scattered five hits and one earned run and registered the 10 strikeouts over eight innings of work. Of Kluber’s 107 pitches, 73 found the strike zone.
In his final start of the first half, Kluber’s streak of consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts came to an end, as he struck out eight with three hits and one earned run allowed over five innings of work. Kluber threw 101 pitches, and only 61 of them found the strike zone in a 5-3 home loss to the Detroit Tigers.
Before Kluber took the mound a second time Sunday, he had a four-run cushion with which to work.
“Pillar hit a first-pitch fastball for the home run, and when you look up later, it’s a run,” Francona said. “You’re not pitching. Corey can do it, and he’s done it, but I’m sure if you ask him, it’s a heck of a lot better if you know you can pound the zone early and if something like that happens, it doesn’t cost you the game.”
Kluber has had eight or more strikeouts in 10 straight starts, which bested the franchise's previous mark of nine straight eight-strikeout outings set by Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller from April 16 to May 21 during the 1946 season.
The 108 strikeouts over his last 10 starts are the most over a 10-game stretch in Indians history.
Now, Kluber has five 14-strikeout games in his career.
“He’s one of the best in the game, and it’s nice when a guy reaches that point and continues to really get after it and work so he can even try and get better,” Francona said.
“We rely on him so much, and he knows that. It’s nice to put his name in there every five days.”
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