DETROIT -- Things were different for Corey Kluber on Saturday before he even took the mound. From his seat on the visitors' bench at Comerica Park, the Indians' ace watched the Cleveland lineup score three runs against the Tigers in the first inning.
Those three runs were as much run support as Kluber received in his previous three starts combined. The lack of offensive help for the right-hander has been an ongoing storyline, dating back to last season. But it was a complete non-issue in the Tribe's 10-1 rout over Detroit.
Armed with a lead, and then some, Kluber overpowered the Tigers for eight vintage innings.
"You could tell Klubes was on top of his game," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He threw a bunch of strikes with a lot of different pitches, different speeds, kept them off balance and our offense did a really good job."
Ask Kluber or the hitters about the run-support issue and they will deny that it has ever morphed into a mental obstacle. Maybe not, but the leader of Cleveland's staff has had little to no margin for error in the majority of his outings over the past three seasons. Last year, the lineup produced two or fewer runs in 21 of his 32 starts. This year, the Indians scored three total runs in his first three turns.
One mistake by Kluber haunted him too often since last season, playing a large role in the uncharacteristic 9-16 record he posted in his Cy Young encore. More of the same contributed to Kluber carrying an 0-3 ledger into Saturday's meeting in the Motor City.
Kluber was in dire need of a cushion.
"We definitely do need to capitalize more somehow," Indians catcher Yan Gomes said.
A three-run first inning was a great start, but the Indians' offense did not stop there. Powered by a three-hit, five-RBI afternoon for Gomes, Cleveland pushed to an 8-0 lead through three innings and upped it to a 10-1 advantage by the seventh. It was a showing that allowed Kluber to easily shrug off the solo home run he surrendered to Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fifth inning.
On the day, Kluber piled up 10 strikeouts, scattered two hits and issued no walks en route to his first victory of the season. That line upped the pitcher's franchise record for games with at least 10 strikeouts and no more than one walk allowed to 17. Hall of Famer Bob Feller ranks second in team history with eight such outings.
"I think the biggest thing was fastball command," Kluber said. "I was a little more down in the zone than I have been the last few times out. It probably was the difference."
Kluber had displayed slightly diminished velocity in his earlier outings, but his cutter, curveball and changeup were each up roughly 1 mph on Saturday over his season averages. The right-hander also threw a higher volume of sinkers than in his previous starts and worked in his curveball more often in the earlier frames.
"It was fun," Lindor said. "Good luck [to the other team]. He definitely showed it today. He was executing every pitch. He was locating every pitch. He came out successful."
Working with an early lead made a big difference.
"It's awesome," Kluber said with a smile. "You go out and score three runs in the first, that's a huge boost. But, then they didn't stop there."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.