"You rarely see it happen," Indians outfielder Michael Bourn said after the Tribe's 5-4 loss to the Angels. "But, he's human, man."
The run-starved Tribe spotted Kluber three first-inning runs -- two on a towering home run by Yan Gomes -- during a momentary lapse in command by Angels starter Garrett Richards. In the bottom of the opening frame, Bourn made a highlight-reel jumping catch at the wall in center, robbing Kole Calhoun of a homer. It was an early combination of offense and defense that Kluber could use to his advantage.
For four innings, he managed to hold back Los Angeles' lineup.
Things began to unravel on the ace in the fifth.
C.J. Cron smacked an 0-1 pitch for a double, David DeJesus was hit by a pitch, and Calhoun and Mike Trout came through with back-to-back RBI singles in pitcher-advantage counts. That trend continued in the sixth, when Erick Aybar sent an 0-1 offering into right field for a single to set up the game's critical blow. Conor Gillaspie -- a thorn in Kluber's side -- crushed a flat 2-1 cutter over the wall in right to push the Angels ahead, 4-3.
DeJesus chased Kluber from the game with a two-out, RBI single later in the sixth.
"[You're] just kind of looking for a mistake," said Gillaspie, who has hit .360 (9-for-25) in his career against Kluber. "He's got good stuff, good movement. He's one of the elite pitchers at this level. You just try to put the barrel on the ball against a guy like that. You feel pretty lucky when you get a hit off a guy like that."
Kluber said his problem was simple to identify.
"I just really didn't make good pitches when I was ahead of guys," Kluber said.
Of the 10 hits allowed by Kluber in his 5 2/3 innings, six came when the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner was ahead in the count. He allowed four hits in two-strike counts and twice gave up hits when ahead, 0-2, on a batter. Kluber did not issue any walks, but he only had four strikeouts and allowed more contact than Cleveland is used to seeing from the right-hander.
"He started out good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It just seemed like by the fourth or fifth inning there, they started stringing some hits together, and he was just having a hard time putting guys away. The guys he got ahead [against], give them some credit, they didn't try to get it all back in one swing. They hit the ball across the field, and got their base hits."
Kluber, who dropped to 6-12 on the season, said this defeat carried a little extra sting.
"Any time you get an early lead, you want to make it stand up," he said. "Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do that tonight."