CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber had to move back his latest start because of neck issues, but the extra rest did him plenty of good against the Toronto Blue Jays at Progressive Field Sunday.
Kluber struck out 14 Blue Jays hitters, scattered five hits, allowed only one earned run and surrendered a pair of walks in leading the Indians (51-45) to an 8-1 victory, which completed the three-game sweep of Toronto (44-54).
“It was fine,” Kluber said. “Fortunately, I was able to get a couple extra days. It wasn’t anything that was all that concerning. I just needed a couple extra days to kind of get to a spot where I wanted to be. I didn’t think about it at all. I didn’t have any issues with it, so it was non-factor.”
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.
“It’s always nice to score early,” Kluber said. “It’s a big boost when we go on to put up four in the first. It kind of spreads things out early. It gives the pitcher more room for error, but it also kind of puts the other guy on the ropes. Later on in the game, you can see what happens.”
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.
“I think they were pretty aggressive the entire series,” Kluber said if Toronto's hitters.
“I guess that’s one of the advantages to pitching the third game of the series. You can kind of watch them the first couple days and pick up on any tendencies. They were fairly aggressive the entire time, and I think we did, for the most part, a pretty good job of using that aggressiveness not just to get strikeouts, but to get quick outs too.”
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