Red Sox-Indians Preview
Corey Kluber has followed last year’s Cy Young Award-winning season with an uneven campaign that has been both good and bad at times.
He’s been a lot more of the latter recently for the Cleveland Indians, but will try to end his year on a strong note Saturday night against the visiting Boston Red Sox.
Kluber (8-16, 3.62 ERA) is among 16 pitchers with at least 200 strikeouts, though he’s the only one with fewer than 10 wins. Nine of them have won at least 13. His ERA is also the fourth-worst among those players.
He’s baseball’s first pitcher to lose 16 games with at least 230 strikeouts since Nolan Ryan went 8-16 for Houston in 1987 despite fanning a major league-best 270. Gaylord Perry is the only other Indians player to reach those thresholds, doing so in 1972 and 1973.
The right-hander seems to be running on fumes down the stretch and was limited to three starts in September while being bothered by a hamstring issue. He gave up four runs and seven hits over six innings in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Monday, falling to 0-4 with a 5.13 ERA in his last six outings.
He’s given up nine home runs over 33 1-3 innings in that span, the same number he allowed over 136 innings his previous 18 starts.
"I’ll take him at 80 percent compared to a lot of guys at 100 percent," teammate Jason Kipnis said. "Corey is out there giving his best because he wants to help this team any way he can."
Kluber fell to 0-2 in five career games against Boston on Aug. 19 when he gave up a career-worst four homers along with six runs over six innings in a 6-4 defeat. Jackie Bradley Jr., David Ortiz, Ryan Hanigan and Travis Shaw all took Kluber deep.
The Indians (79-80) won Friday’s opener 8-2 despite being without Kipnis, who has been dealing with shoulder and neck injuries. Carlos Santana was 2 for 3 with three RBIs after batting .122 in his previous 11 games, though he has 12 RBIs in his last 10 contests.
The Red Sox (78-82) ensured themselves a losing record for the second straight year for the first time since finishing below .500 from 1992-94. Ortiz, who had sat out three of the previous six games, returned to hit his 37th home run. Mookie Betts reached base for the 35th consecutive game and is batting .367 during that streak.
Craig Breslow (0-3, 4.22) makes his second career start after his first came in his 523rd career appearance last Saturday against Baltimore. He limited the Orioles to two hits over four innings in Boston’s 8-0 victory.
"Now that it’s done and it went pretty well, it was a lot of fun," he told MLB’s official website. "I don’t know how many guys make 500-some odd career relief appearances and then get a chance to start their first big league game."
Breslow, who’s expected to be limited to 50-60 pitches, hasn’t allowed an earned run over 3 2-3 innings of relief against the Indians this year.