Indians' ace focused mainly on keeping opponents off the scoreboard
By John Jackson
Special to MLB.com |
CHICAGO -- So far this season, runs have been as scarce as warm, sunny April days in the upper Midwest when Corey Kluber has been on the mound.
Through Kluber's first four starts, the Indians have managed a total of five runs. That includes zero on Wednesday, as the Tribe lost, 6-0, to the White Sox in the rubber game of the three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
That support, or lack thereof, explains why Kluber -- the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner -- remains winless at 0-2.
The ace right-hander, though, isn't about to dwell on the offense's lack of production when he pitches.
"For me, I can only focus on going out there and trying to prevent the other team from scoring," Kluber said. "Once you start letting other stuff get to you or creep in your mind, it takes away from what you're trying to do. My job is not to worry about things other than me trying to prevent them from scoring. I didn't do that well enough today."
Kluber was far from his best on Wednesday, but he did manage to prevent the big inning early on, limiting the White Sox to single runs in the first, third and sixth innings. He wasn't as fortunate in the seventh, when the first four batters produced hits, capped by a two-run double by Jose Abreu -- who previously had a home run in the first inning.
After allowing just a total of six runs in his previous three starts, Kluber allowed six runs on a career-high 13 hits Wednesday.
"I think the line was a little bit skewed because he gave up those runs late," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Despite Kluber's insistence that his pitching shouldn't be affected by the production of the offense, Francona concedes that it almost has to be.
"You know, it's a hard way to pitch when we're throwing up zeroes as an offense," the manager said. "I think he probably feels like he has to be perfect, and that's a hard way to pitch. You start getting runners on, and we're playing the infield in and things like that, which is a lot tougher. He knows he has to be fine, and you end up throwing a wild pitch and you have to bring the infield all the way in."
That's precisely what happened in the sixth inning on Wednesday. With the White Sox holding a 2-0 lead, there were runners on second and third with one out. Kluber had to try and strike out Alexei Ramirez to prevent falling behind further. He fanned Ramirez, but not before uncorking a wild pitch to allow Avisail Garcia to score from third to make it 3-0.
"I yanked a cutter," Kluber said. "I was trying to get him to chase something off the plate, and I just aimed it too far off."
The three-run rally in the seventh was aided by a run-scoring single by Melky Cabrera with the infield playing in, an attempt to cut down a runner at the plate.
"I felt fine," Kluber said. "I made some mistakes, and I probably didn't do a good enough job pitching inside to keep them off balance when I did make those mistakes."
Then again, with zero runs scored by the offense, there wasn't much he could do to be successful.
"So far, there hasn't been a lot of run support," Francona said. "Hopefully that'll change, because when it does, he's going to rack up some wins."
John Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.