CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey 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 of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field Friday night.
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 Boston Red Sox on the way to a 6-0 win and 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
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.
Offensively, the Indians got things rolling by plating four runs and taking a 4-0 lead over the Red Sox after the second inning.
After first baseman Mike Napoli grounded out to shortstop to start the inning, designated hitter Carlos Santana looped a single into left field for the Indians’ first hit, and base runner, of the game. Then, third baseman Jose Ramirez reached on an infield single that shortstop Xander Bogaerts was unable to handle.
Left fielder Brandon Guyer broke the scoreless tie when he popped a single into shallow center field out of the reach of the shortstop and in front of charging outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Willing to test Bradley’s throwing arm, Santana rounded third and headed for home, but no throw came to the plate.
In addition to Santana scoring the run, Ramirez was able to go first to third on the single.
Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall followed with the big hit of the inning when after taking a called strike, he smashed a 1-1 pitch from Price off of the foul pole in right field for a three-run home run, the Indians’ fourth round-tripper of the series.
The Indians built on their lead with an RBI single from second baseman Jason Kipnis in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With catcher Roberto Perez on second base courtesy of a walk and center fielder Rajai Davis at first after a fielder’s choice, Kipnis hit a fly ball to left field that dropped in front of Andrew Benintendi and drove in Perez when the throw home was cut off by relief pitcher Matt Barnes.
Perez’s walk put a pair of runners on base, as outfielder Brandon Guyer had an infield single to start the inning, and that was enough to run Boston starter David Price from the game. Price allowed five runs, all earned, and six hits over just 3.1 innings of work.
The Indians added a run and built their lead to 6-0 with an RBI sacrifice fly from Davis in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Guyer started the inning with a line-drive single to right field off of reliever Robbie Ross Jr., and two batters later, Perez reached base when a simple ground ball against Brad Ziegler went through the legs of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
Guyer motored from first to third on the fielding error, and then, came around to score when Davis lifted the sacrifice fly to center field. Guyer hustled down the third-base line after the catch and slid in ahead of the throw from Bradley.