Corey Kluber became the ninth pitcher in Indians history to record 200 strikeouts in a season. However he also allowed three or more runs for the first time in seven starts as the Tribe lost the series finale on Thursday at Minnesota 4-1.
"I was a little off and not quite able to reel it in and find it," Kluber told reporters after the game. "I did a good job of battling and keeping the team in the game but didn’t quite have enough."
The right-hander got his 200th strikeout in the third inning when he got Danny Santana swinging. He is the fifth quickest in Indians history to get to that milestone, doing it in 182 innings. Sam McDowell got his 200th strikeout in 1965 at 161 1/3 innings. McDowell also got 200 strikeouts in 172 innings in 1968 and 178 nnings in 1966. Bartolo Colon got his in 2000 with 180 innings.
If the rotation goes as expected, Kluber is expected to make seven more regular-season starts. At his current pace, he would finish with 274 strikeouts, which would be the sixth-most in franchise history. Bob Feller has the single-season record with 348 in 1946.
Thursday’s loss also marked Kluber’s first since June 30. He came into the game leading the Majors in second-half ERA at 0.76 and had allowed only two over his past 39 innings.
In the fourth inning, Kennys Vargas hit a home run to left on a 1-0 fastball, marking the first homer Kluber had given up since July 11 against the White Sox. After a Zach Walters homer tied it in the fifth, the Twins took the lead in the sixth on a two-run double by Trevor Plouffe.
"He didn’t command as well as he normally does," manager Terry Francona told reporters after the game. "Every inning they really made him work. The second and third innings he pitched out of it. We held them to one (run) for awhile."
Kluber ended up going seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits with four walks (tying a season high) and eight strikeouts. He falls to 13-7 with a 2.46 ERA. Since the All-Star Break, Kluber is now 4-1 with a 1.15 ERA, which is third-lowest in the Majors.