Kluber stiffs Jays with 14 Ks for win and series sweep
CLEVELAND 8, TORONTO 1
Corey Kluber’s stiff neck cleared up a day too soon for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cleveland’s ace struck out a season-high 14 in 7 2/3 innings and showed no signs of the neck problem that pushed back him back in the rotation, with another dominating performance in the Indians’ 8-1 American League baseball victory Sunday.
“It wasn’t anything that was really concerning,” said Kluber, whose regular turn in the rotation was scheduled for Friday.
“Just needed a couple of extra days to get to the spot I wanted to be. I didn’t think about it at all.”
Kluber (8-3) allowed five hits, including Kevin Pillar’s leadoff HR in the third, and reached double figures in strikeouts for the ninth time in 16 starts.
He fell four strikeouts short of matching his career-high 18 against St. Louis in 2015.
The 2014 AL Cy Young winner fanned the first two hitters in the eighth, before walking Josh Donaldson, ending a nine-pitch at-bat. The right-hander, who threw 120 pitches, received a standing ovation from the crowd of 30,701 after being pulled by manager Terry Francona.
“I knew it was my last hitter,” Kluber said.
“I guess when you get in that spot you empty the tank and leave everything out there, because there’s no more after that point.”
Kluber missed a month earlier this season with a strained back. He’s 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in 10 starts since coming off the disabled list.
“He’s kind of set the bar pretty high,” said Francona. “We rely on him so much and he knows that. It’s nice to put his name in there every five days.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team finished 3-7 on its longest road trip of the season, expressed a similar opinion.
“He’s one of the best in baseball, but he was as good today as we’ve ever seen him,” Gibbons said.
J.A. Happ (3-7) allowed a seasonhigh seven runs in six innings.
The Jays were outscored 23-5 in the series. “We need to get home,” Gibbons said. “It was a lousy day.” BREAK-EVEN MARK The win moved the Indians to 2424 at Progressive Field after going 53-28 at home last season. BASEMENT VIEW The Blue Jays are 44-54 and firmly in last place in the AL East.
“We have come back from similar situations and made it to the playoffs,” said Jose Bautista, who struck out three times against Kluber.
“All we can control is the games we have left.”
Bautista had little to say on whether he’d waive his no-trade clause with the July 31 deadline approaching.
“I’m not willing to entertain that type of question right now,” he said.
TRAINER’S ROOM Blue Jays: SS Troy Tulowitzki (groin) was not in the lineup for the second day in a row. He was injured while running to first base in his final at-bat Friday.
UP NEXT Blue Jays: Left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano opens a fourgame home series against Oakland on Monday.
He moved up one day in the rotation when Aaron Sanchez was placed on the disabled list.
Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber delivers to Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson in the first inning Sunday in Cleveland. Kluber struck out a season-high 14 in an easy victory for Cleveland over Toronto.