The Indians will chase the Detroit Tigers and wild card without Corey Kluber.
Cleveland’s starter will be sidelined at least one month — and maybe longer — with a sprained right middle finger, the same injury that sidelined teammate Zach McAllister for nearly two months earlier this season.
"It’s disappointing in a lot of ways," Indians manager Terry Francona said following Tuesday’s loss. "We’re right in the thick of things, and we’re running Corey Kluber out there, feeling pretty good about ourselves."
Kluber injured his finger while throwing a breaking ball in the eighth inning on Monday night, when he shut out the first-place Tigers for 7 1-3 innings in the series before closer Chris Perez blew it in the ninth and the Indians lost 4-2. The team said an MRI confirmed the diagnosis of a sprain, an injury the Indians have become very familiar with in recent years.
Along with McAllister, former Indians Adam Miller and Alex White were also laid up by sprained middle fingers.
The Indians said Kluber could miss as much as six weeks, a major blow to their playoff chances. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list before Tuesday’s game.
The right-hander has been one of Cleveland’s most consistent starters. Kluber, who is 7-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 19 starts, will begin a throwing program as soon as he is symptom free.
"I’m disappointed for him," Francona said. "It makes it harder for us. It doesn’t mean that we can’t do it, it just makes it harder. But I’m real disappointed for him, because he’s worked so hard. And he will continue to, and he’ll be fine. You’ve got to be patient with these types of things or you can get yourself in trouble, so we won’t."
Indians starter Justin Masterson felt bad for Kluber.
"Our hope is that it won’t be as bad as McAllister was," Masterson said after Tuesday’s game. "He was out for quite some time. Hopefully, it can be one of those where we can take a few weeks, get him back on track and have him, because he’ll be a big part as we continue on."
With Kluber out, rookie Danny Salazar will have a shot to stay in the rotation. He’s making his second career start on Wednesday against the Tigers, who have won 10 straight to open a five-game lead over Cleveland.
Francona would not commit to anything beyond Wednesday’s game.