CLEVELAND -- The first time through their starting rotation this season, the Cleveland Indians' pitchers struggled and did not garner a victory, but all of that changed Tuesday night in their 8-6 victory over the San Diego Padres at Progressive Field.
Despite the leadoff hitter getting on base with a hit in each of the first four innings and giving up nine total hits, Corey Kluber allowed three runs over six innings and earned the first victory of the year for an Indians' starter.
"As a rotation, you could ask any one of us," Kluber said. "We're not satisfied with how we started the year. It's a long year. It just so happened that we had however many games where we didn't do so hot. It happened all in a row. It is what it is. We've just got to move forward, make the adjustments and look to improve.
"For whatever reason, they had a lot of traffic early in the game, but I was able to work around it, and I think that gives you a little bit of a confidence boost. You get into some trouble early on, and you're able to come out of it, work out of it, when you get in that situation later in the game, you kind of have that to fall back on."
Kluber struck out eight hitters in the win over the Padres, something that was credited to his combination of pitches.
"He just kept the guys off balance, mixing his curveball with the fastball in," center fielder Nyjer Morgan said of Kluber. "He just did what he was supposed to do, and that was to keep us in the game. As long as you keep us in the game, we're going to do what it takes."
Indians manager Terry Francona added, "He had to pitch from the first hitter of the game because they got runners on base, but he reached back. He started changing speeds, and with his late movements, there were a lot of swings and misses."
According to Kluber, changing speeds and mixing up his pitches is just that, pitching.
"Changing speeds, that's the name of the game, keeping hitters off balance," Kluber said. "Early on, we tried to attack hard a little bit. I didn't have my best location. I'd make some good pitches and then, I'd leave one over the middle or something like that. Changing speeds on them, it gives you a little more room for error as the game goes on."
And by mixing up those speeds, Kluber once again proved to be the slump buster for the Indians.
In 10 of his starts last year, Kluber took the ball after an Indians' loss. In those outings, he posted a 5-1 record and had a 2.59 earned run average, but it is not something he thinks about when he runs out from the bullpen and takes his spot in the center of the diamond.
"I have no idea," Kluber said. "I couldn't tell you. I'm not trying to treat a game any differently, whether we win or lose the night before. My goal every time I go out there is to go out there and try to give us the best chance to win. Whether we won the night before or lost, it doesn't really affect the way I go about it."