Indians, Kluber try to turn homestand around vs. Rangers

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians are letting their longest homestand of the season slip away without taking advantage of it. But reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will be on the mound Wednesday afternoon trying to change that.

Kluber and the Indians will host the Texas Rangers in the finale of a three-game series in which the two teams have split the first two contests. The Indians have lost five of the first eight games of this 11-game homestand.

The Indians are also playing with an undermanned and overworked bullpen. Andrew Miller is on the 10-day disabled list and the Indians have used nine relievers in the last two games, including six in an 8-6 loss in 12 innings Tuesday night.

It would not be a surprise if a reliever or two is summoned from Triple-A Columbus prior to Wednesday’s game.

“We’re going to talk about it. That’s something we need to think about,” said Indians manager Terry Francona after Tuesday’s game.

Kluber will be making his seventh start of the season. The 31-year-old right-hander has traditionally gotten off to slow starts, but the 2018 season has been the best start of major league career.

In six starts in March and April, Kluber was 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA. In his Cy Young Award-winning 2017 season, Kluber was 3-1 with a 4.19 ERA in April. In 2014, the year Kluber won his first Cy Young Award, he was 2-3 with a 4.14 ERA in April.

Kluber is coming off a win in his last start, a 6-5 decision over Seattle on April 27, falling one out short of a complete game. He gave up three runs, four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts.

“He’s just such a good pitcher,” Francona said. “He’s got a lot of ways to attack hitters, lefties or righties, with late movement and command. It’s fun to watch.”

Kluber, who was born in Coppell, Texas, made two starts against the Rangers last year, going 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA. In six career starts against Texas Kluber is 3-1 with a 3.73 ERA.

Kluber’s mound opponent will be left-hander Matt Moore (1-3, 5.33). Moore’s last appearance came on April 29, a relief stint during a 7-2 Texas loss to Toronto in which he pitched one scoreless inning.

Moore’s last start came against Oakland on April 23, a 9-4 Rangers loss. Moore received a no-decision in the game, in which he pitched five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, with two strikeouts and two walks.

In seven career starts against Cleveland, Moore is 2-2 with 3.57 ERA. He has made two career starts at Progressive Field, both as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. In those two starts he is 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA.

The Rangers’ offense has been bolstered by some power from the catching position.

Nine of Robinson Chirinos‘ last 10 hits have been for extra bases: six home runs and three doubles. That includes three home runs in his last four games.