Former Cy Young Award winner allows two runs over eight impressive innings
By Pat James
ATLANTA -- While the Indians extended their winning streak to 11 games on Tuesday with a 5-3 victory over the Braves at Turner Field, shortstop Francisco Lindor refused to bask in the win quite as much as his teammates.
With Cleveland leading, 2-0, in the sixth, Lindor, much like everyone else at the ballpark, found himself enamored with the efforts of right-hander Corey Kluber, who hadn't allowed a hit through five innings.
Things changed quickly, though. Braves shortstop Erick Aybar led off the inning with a slow dribbler to Lindor's right. The shortstop took off, hoping to prevent Kluber's chances of throwing a no-hitter from completely vanishing. But his effort wasn't enough.
Aybar reached first on an infield single, as Lindor's throw was wide to the right of first base. The hit sparked a two-run inning for the Braves, capped by Ender Inciarte's two-run single. While the Tribe ultimately seized the win, Lindor was still frustrated with himself after the game.
"I was anticipating that ball to me, but I just messed up," Lindor said. "That led to two runs, and I don't like that. I don't like that at all. Kluber was working as hard as he can on the mound. He was pitching great the whole entire time, and he pitched great after that."
The play lingered in Lindor's mind, but Kluber quickly moved on. The right-hander didn't allow another baserunner across his next two innings, as he ultimately put his team in position for the win.
Kluber needed only 87 pitches to make it through eight innings, striking out seven en route to his eighth win of the year. Since pitch counts were first tracked, he's the only Indians pitcher to go as long in as few as pitches with as many strikeouts.
"I thought he was very good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Through five innings, I think he had 49 or 50 pitches. The inning they scored two, he gave up the infield hit, a base hit and then Inciarte had a really nice at-bat, fouling off some pitches and getting a hit. But we never let them take the lead."
Kluber's performance marked the third time in his past four outings that he's pitched at least eight innings. That span included a pair of complete games, the most recent of which came against the Rays on June 21.
In his following two starts in the wake of his first two complete games this season, the 30-year-old had surrendered 13 runs, 10 of which were earned. But on Tuesday, he didn't allow that trend or the Braves' first hit to throw him off course.
"At that point in time, it was a new game," Kluber said. "I just had to try to go back out there and put up a few more zeroes after that, try to keep them there and let the offense do its job."
Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.