Indians’ Kluber seeks 11th win in series opener vs. Twins
CLEVELAND – Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who is pitching like he wants to add a third Cy Young to his resume, will be on the mound Friday night as the Cleveland Indians begin a nine-game homestand with the opener of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
Kluber (10-2, 1.99 ERA) has gone six starts, 41 innings and 168 consecutive batters since he last walked a hitter. His last walk came over a month ago, on May 8.
In six starts since then, Kluber is 5-0 with a 1.09 ERA, 46 strikeouts and no walks in 41 innings. Kluber this season almost has more wins than walks. He has 10 of each.
One of those 10 wins came against the Twins, on April 17, a 6-1 victory in which Kluber pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
How good has Kluber been this year? His ERA in his two losses and his two no-decisions is 2.30. He could very easily be 14-0.
His two losses were by the scores of 2-1 and 3-2. The score in one of his no-decisions was 3-2. In the other no-decision, the Indians were winning 2-0 in the seventh inning when Kluber was removed from the game.
In 20 career starts against Minnesota, Kluber has a record of 9-5 with a 3.21 ERA.
Cleveland returns home after going 4-3 on a trip to Detroit and Chicago, although the Indians have scored just eight runs in their last three games.
“We’ve been scuffling to score some runs the last few days,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The Twins come to Cleveland having just lost two of three games in Detroit.
Kluber’s mound opponent of Friday will be right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-4, 3.45). Gibson’s only win came in his first start of the season, on March 31. Since then, he is 0-4 but with a decent 3.75 ERA.
Gibson’s biggest problem has been a lack of run support from his teammates. In Gibson’s 13 starts, the Twins have scored an average of 3.6 runs per game.
Gibson’s last start against Cleveland came June 3 when he received no decision in a 7-5 Minnesota win. In that game, Gibson pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and two hits with seven strikeouts and two walks. In 14 career starts against Cleveland, Gibson is 2-6 with a 5.60 ERA.
Minnesota’s lineup for Friday’s game will have a different look after the Twins on Thursday optioned struggling third baseman Miguel Sano to Class A Fort Myers. After hitting .264 with 28 home runs and 77 RBIs last year, Sano this year was batting .203 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs, and he had struck out in nearly half (66) of his at-bats (148).
“He needs to be the guy we think he can be. He’s not there right now,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told MLB.com. “We have to take a step backwards here and determine the steps moving forward.”
The Twins are also expected to activate first baseman Joe Mauer off the disabled list on Friday. Mauer has been sidelined since May 18 with a neck strain. The Twins will announce another roster addition to replace outfielder Jake Cave, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday.