Kluber's run of success vs. Twins ends

Ace's rough fourth dents Tribe's AL Wild Card hopes

Kluber's run of success vs. Twins ends

MINNEAPOLIS -- Corey Kluber had made a habit out of shutting down the Twins this season. The Indians' ace came into Wednesday's game 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 26 innings against Minnesota. In one of those starts, he had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning. In another, he finished the game having given up just one hit.

But Wednesday, with the two teams in the middle of an American League Wild Card chase when the Indians needed their ace, the Twins got the best of Kluber. They tagged him for four runs in the fourth inning in the Indians' 4-2 loss, and Kluber said he was fighting his delivery the whole night.

The loss pushed the Indians two games under .500 and they remained 4 1/2 games behind the Astros, who hold the second American League Wild Card berth.

"Obviously the games are more magnified right now, but I think throughout the course of the year, every game you lose is frustrating. I don't think it's any more or less frustrating when you lose a game in September or April," Kluber said. "I think our goal is to win every night and when that doesn't happen, it's a bad feeling. It's not something you look forward to."

Wednesday was just Kluber's second start since coming back from a hamstring injury and he threw 72 pitches, getting knocked out of the game in the fourth.

"His stuff is good, it always is good. He's not in midseason form. It's not through lack of effort or anything," manager Terry Francona said. "He missed 19 days and is fighting that hammy a little bit. But it's not like we don't think he can get people out. He made some mistakes up. My point was when he's in midseason [form], he doesn't do that."

Kluber was quick to point out that he was healthy enough to go out and take the ball. He refused to use that as an excuse, instead saying that he wasn't able to make the adjustments he needed to quick enough.

"Eventually, it kind of came back to hurt us," Kluber said.

Kluber pinpointed Wednesday's effort to missing up. Whenever he missed, the ball was elevated. After Brian Dozier homered to lead off the fourth, the Twins strung together a rally off Kluber. Most of the damage came on a two-out, two-run single from shortstop Eduardo Escobar, which Kluber said was a breaking ball up that Escobar was able to get just enough of because of its elevation.

"I just thought he made some mistakes up and we came probably within a pitch of getting out of the inning, but just threw a breaking ball up," Francona said. "Every time he got hurt, it seemed like he elevated the ball. That's frustrating, I know, for him. He's two starts back now. My guess is each start, he'll be sharper. We're just running out of starts."

Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.