Even a couple of home runs couldn’t derail the roll Cleveland’s Corey Kluber is on, getting closer to the form that earned him the AL Cy Young award a season ago.
Kluber struck out 13 in seven innings to win his third straight decision, Jason Kipnis continued his hot May with two hits and two RBIs, and the Indians beat the Seattle Mariners 5-3 on Thursday night.
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Kluber improved to 3-0 with 50 strikeouts and two walks in his last four starts as Cleveland won for the eighth time in 10 games, inching closer to .500 after struggling the first six weeks of the season.
”Like I was saying when things weren’t going that great, it wasn’t like I was that far off. A lot of balls just out of guys’ reach and things like that,” Kluber said. ”I think for the most part I’m in a good spot with not a ton to address. Kind of just clean up little things here and there and get guys out.”
Kluber (3-5) gave up a pair of home runs to Mike Zunino in the third and Dustin Ackley in the sixth, but Seattle was able to mount little otherwise. Kluber earned his first road victory of the season.
Eight of the final nine outs recorded by Kluber came via strikeout, including getting Nelson Cruz swinging for the final out of the seventh with a runner on. He threw 112 pitches, one off his season high of 113 when he struck out 18 against St. Louis.
Cody Allen pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 11 chances.
”He works hard. He doesn’t run out of gas,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Kluber. ”His last pitch was probably his best fastball of the night. He’s kind of built himself so he can go out and do what he needs to do for as long as he needs to.”
James Paxton (3-3) gave up eight hits and three earned runs before leaving with two outs and a 3-0 count against Brandon Moss in the fifth due to a finger injury.
Kipnis entered the night hitting .447 in May and added a pair of singles, along with an RBI groundout in the sixth inning after Jose Ramirez led off with a double. Moss also homered in the second inning off Paxton, his eighth of the season. It was the first home run allowed to a left-handed hitter in Paxton’s young career.
”Everybody is just hitting. It’s been fun to watch,” Moss said. ”Obviously, our pitching has been incredible. That goes without saying. … Offensively, guys are starting to get into their grooves.”
Seattle looked lethargic coming off a nine-game road trip and the long return flight after closing out a series at Tampa Bay on Wednesday and it didn’t help that Paxton wasn’t sharp.
After missing high with a 2-0 pitch to Moss in the fifth, manager Lloyd McClendon and athletic trainer Rob Nodine went to the mound as Paxton shook his pitching hand. Paxton was pulled and Joe Beimel took over.
The team announced Paxton felt discomfort in the middle finger of his left hand and would be re-evaluated Friday.
”I’m sure he’ll be looked at by a doctor and we’ll go from there,” McClendon said. ”It just happened on that pitch.”
Indians: RHP Scott Atchison was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sprained ankle. Francona said the injury happened a few weeks ago, but Atchison finally needed to take the time for it to heal properly.
Mariners: 2B Robinson Cano didn’t start after experiencing flu symptoms, but came on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. … RHP Hisashi Iwakuma played catch Thursday, his first time throwing since suffering a setback in his recovery from a muscle strain in his side and back.
Indians: Trevor Bauer (4-1) goes for his third straight victory. Over his last three starts, Bauer has a 1.21 ERA, but is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against Seattle.
Mariners: Taijuan Walker (1-5) will try to rebound from two straight subpar starts. Walker lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs in a no decision against Baltimore, then allowed six hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings in a loss at Toronto.