Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber was unhittable in the first four innings of the Tribe's 15-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre Wednesday night.
And when the Blue Jays found a way to work Kluber into trouble, the budding ace of the Indians' staff fought out of it and limited the damage to one run in each of the fifth and sixth innings of his seven-frame outing.
"I did a good job the first two innings, but in the top of the fifth, I got a little tired and tried to start creating a little bit more in fifth and the sixth, tried to use my legs, got under some balls," Kluber said. "In the last inning, I told myself to do what I was doing early on, and that's pound the strike zone.
"The biggest thing for me was trying to recognize what happened in those two innings and just try to get back to what I did the first however many (innings)."
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Kluber surrendered a one-out double to Toronto first baseman Adam Lind, and then, two batters later, Blue Jays second baseman Brett Lawrie hit an RBI double to center field.
However, after walking catcher Josh Thole, Kluber struck out center fielder Kevin Pillar swinging.
The sixth inning had a similar tone to it, as left fielder Melky Cabrera hit a one-out single, and came around to score on right fielder Jose Bautista's double to center field. Kluber responded by inducing a pop out from designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion and a fly out to the left-field wall from Lind to end the threat.
Kluber came back for one more inning and set down the side, one-two-three, in the Blue Jays' half of the seventh.
"I thought he was really good early," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I thought, in the middle innings, he got a little bit flat. When the score was 4-2 and we moved Mikey (Aviles) to left field and Mikey made the catch when Lind hit the ball deep, to Klube's credit, he bounced back and then, came back with a crisp inning. The game, at that point, was a heck of a lot closer than the scoreboard showed at the end."
Kluber added, "(Pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) came out and gave me a breather. I was getting a little gassed there after throwing a lot of pitches. While he was out there, I was telling myself, 'Get back to making good pitches down in the zone. Let them get themselves out.' I didn't really make the pitch we were trying to make to Encarnacion, but it ended up working out."
Kluber retired the first 13 Blue Jay hitters he faced and carried a perfect game into the bottom of the fifth inning. He scattered four hits and one walk over his final three innings of work to earn his team-leading fourth victory of the season.
Over his last five outings, Kluber has struck out 47 hitters and allowed only seven walks.
"Looking at his repertoire, his assortment of pitches, he's got as good of stuff as I've seen," Indians outfielder David Murphy told Sportstime Ohio after the win. "It's always fun to play behind him. He works quickly, has got great stuff, and you can tell by the way the other guys swing the bat that they're not comfortable in there."