CLEVELAND -- Despite being at the 100-pitch mark after the seventh inning, Cleveland Indians ace starter Corey Kluber took the mound at the start of the eighth against the New York Yankees in the first of four games at Progressive Field ahead of next week’s break for the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Despite being confident in his abilities, Kluber surrendered two runs that proved to be the difference in the game, as the Yankees worked their way to a 7-4 come-from-behind victory over the Indians.
“I felt fine,” Kluber said. “We talked after the seventh, they asked if I felt good, and I said yeah. I felt fine. Lead-off walks are never a good thing. Hicks had a good at-bat, was able to foul off some pitches and get one that I kind of left up in the zone a little bit.”
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Working against Kluber in the top of the eighth inning, center fielder Aaron Hicks doubled to the wall in center field and drove in shortstop Didi Gregorius, who drew a leadoff walk. Later in the inning, Hicks stole third base and came around to score on a sacrifice fly.
“I thought he was fine,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He was at about 100, and I thought he was throwing the ball well. There’s been some instances where I think we’ve given guys some wiggle room, but I thought he was in command of what he was doing.”
After the Indians took a 2-0 lead in their first trip to the plate, the Yankees had an answer in the top of the third inning when left fielder Brett Gardner fought his way back into an at-bat after going down 0-2 and got enough of a cut fastball to send it over the wall in right field for a game-tying home run.
Gregorius led off the fourth inning with a 430-foot home run to the bullpen in center field, and two batters later, first baseman Greg Bird smashed a double high off the wall in right-center, which brought in Giancarlo Stanton, who singled to center field earlier in the frame.
“The first time through the order, they were pretty patient,” Kluber said. “The second time, they were more aggressive, and we adjusted to that the next time through the lineup. I think that’s part of it, that cat-and-mouse. They adjusted to me the first time through, and we adjusted to them. It just kind of goes back and forth.”
Thursday’s loss to the Yankees snapped the Indians’ streak of 74 consecutive victories when Kluber gets four or more runs of support. The streak started on June 11, 2013.
Kluber allowed six runs, all earned, along with eight hits and two walks against nine strikeouts over 7.1 innings of work against the Yankees.
“They’re one of the best offensive teams in baseball, I think,” Kluber said. “Their whole lineup, one through nine, there’s not really any letdown from the leadoff hitter to the ninth hitter. I think they’re a good lineup, one through nine, and if you make mistakes, like I did a few times, they take advantage of them and it cost us.”