CLEVELAND -- As has been his nature since emerging as one of the best arms in baseball, Corey Kluber downplayed his personal accomplishments on Wednesday night. Fresh off one of the most dominant outings in baseball history, the Indians ace said he was just happy that his team won.
Young catcher Roberto Perez, on the other hand, smiled widely and allowed himself to get swept up in the moment.
"I can't wait to watch the replay," Perez beamed after the Indians' 2-0 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday.
Much had been made in recent weeks about the developing relationship between Kluber and Perez. With Cleveland's starting catcher, Yan Gomes, on the disabled list since early April, Perez was pressed into the everyday role sooner than anticipated. That led to a learning curve for the young catcher, especially with the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.
Needless to say, Kluber and Perez were on the same page on Wednesday against St. Louis. The right-hander matched a club record for a nine-inning game with 18 strikeouts and ended with no walks and just one hit allowed in eight innings for Cleveland. In the immediate wake of his outing, Kluber praised Perez for his work behind the plate.
"The biggest thing, I thought Roberto did a great job keeping them off-balance," Kluber said. "We spend a lot of time talking about stuff and trying to understand each other, that kind of thing. I think probably some of that hard work paid off a little bit."
Kluber had turned in a 7.43 ERA with 38 hits allowed and a .982 opponents' OPS in 23 innings in his four starts prior to Wednesday's game. In the days leading up to Kluber's start against the Cardinals, Perez spent more time with the pitcher and watched one of his bullpen sessions.
"We've been talking a lot about trying to get the same relationship that he had with Gomes last year," Perez said. "And this year, trying to build that and get on the same page. The first couple starts, we weren't, but [against the Cardinals], he was commanding all his pitches, and it was fun to catch."
Kluber said he was impressed with how Perez worked behind the scenes to help fix some of the issues that the righty may have been experiencing in previous outings.
"I don't think it's something that you can just expect to happen right away," Kluber said, "especially when the guy hasn't caught you that often. ... But, yeah, I do feel like the work we've been putting in, the time we've spent talking about stuff, it makes us more comfortable with each other."