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Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Putting the 'K' in Kluber

MLB Notebook: Putting the 'K' in Kluber

In 1955, Indians southpaw Herb Score fanned 25.1 percent of all batters he faced -- a height that had not been reached by any live-ball era pitcher who threw enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. The next year, Score improved on that mark, posting a 25.7 strikeout percentage; with those two seasons, Tribe pitchers -- thanks to Score and Bob Feller in 1946 (23 percent) -- owned three of the top four strikeout percentages since 1920, and had claim to five of the best 10 (with Feller holding ninth and 10th place, as well). By the end of the 1970 season, Feller had fallen out of the top 10, and Score was just barely holding onto the 10th spot.

But a new collection of Indians hurlers was partly to blame, with Cleveland southpaw Sam McDowell holding down the second, fourth and eighth spots, Tribe right-hander Luis Tiant owning the fifth-highest percentage since 1920, and another Indians righty, Sonny Siebert, claiming the ninth spot. It's an extraordinary legacy of K's. And now, Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber has something in common with some of these giants on the mound.

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In a no-decision, Kluber established -- for the second time in his past three games -- a career high in strikeouts, this time fanning 13 in eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball. The baker's dozen was highlighted by a stretch of seven straight K's, put together from the third through fifth innings.

The seven straight strikeouts established a new Indians record, surpassing the previous mark of six. Those with six in a row: Feller (Oct. 2, 1938); Bartolo Colon (July 26, 2000); Chuck Finley (May 28, 2002); Mitch Talbot (July 24, 2010).

With his 11 K's in the Indians' 22nd game and this 13-K effort coming in Cleveland's 31st contest, Kluber became the sixth Tribe pitcher since 1914 to have multiple games with at least 11 strikeouts through the team's first 31 contests. He joins a notable group: Feller (four games, 1946), McDowell (three, 1967; three, '68; two, 1970) and Score (two, 1956).

Among pitchers with at least 30 starts since the beginning of last year, Kluber's 22.9 strikeout percentage stands as the 20th highest in the Majors.

Giants' power growing
Shortstop Brandon Crawford hit a pair of home runs to help the Giants defeat the Braves, 4-1, and complete a three-game sweep.

The Giants began the series second in the National League in home runs, and they completed the weekend still in second, with the team's 41 just behind the Rockies' 44. San Francisco's 41 through 31 games represent the highest total for the club since it had 42 in 2001. The 1958 and '96 Giants each had 50 through their first 31 games -- the most for the franchise since moving to San Francisco.

The Giants have hit at least two home runs in four straight road games -- the club's longest streak since 2012.

A (near-perfect) 10
Justin Verlander -- who took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning -- won his fourth straight decision as the Tigers rolled to a 9-4 win over the Royals. Verlander has 141 victories in his 10-year career. Among the 52 live-ball era pitchers with at least 140 victories through their first 10 seasons (with all ranks and numbers based on pitchers' those first 10), Verlander's:

• 128 ERA+ ties him with Wes Ferrell and Warren Spahn for 18th best.
• 1.194 WHIP is 19th lowest (just behind Spahn).
• 7.96 hits per nine places him just ahead of Greg Maddux, for 18th lowest.
• 8.46 K's/9 is the highest (ahead of Roger Clemens).
• 22.7 K percentage is the highest (ahead of Clemens).
• .644 winning percentage ties him with Dizzy Dean, Feller and Roy Oswalt for the 12th best.

Here and there
Chase Utley's first-inning RBI single held up, as Roberto Hernandez (7 1/3 innings, four hits) and three Phillies relievers combined on a five-hit shutout, and Philadelphia topped Washington, 1-0. The 2014 Phils have a pair of 1-0 wins at Citizens Bank Park, after the club produced none in 2012 or '13. This is the 11th 1-0 victory for the Phillies at their current ballpark (which opened in 2004), with one occurring in 2005, two taking place in '09, five occurring in 2010 and then one happening in '11.

• In the Rangers' 14-3 win over the Angels, Adrian Beltre collected three singles to boost his career hit total to 2,442. The total leaves Beltre with the 43rd most in history for any player through his age-35 season. With another 99 this season, he would move past Willie Mays and into the slot for the 29th most. Recently, Beltre became the 17th player in history to reach 500 doubles through his age-35 season.

• In the Brewers' 10-inning, 4-3 loss to the Reds, left fielder Khris Davis had a fourth-inning home run and a 10th-inning double. The two-base hit made Davis 6-for-8 in extra innings this season, with five of his six hits going for extra bases. Those five are the most in the Majors, with the Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez having three. Over the past 40 seasons, the high mark for extra-innings, extra-base hits for any player in one campaign is seven, by Jeff Kent in 1998. Only four other players since 1975 have had six: Terry Harper in '85, Corey Patterson in 2004, Troy Tulowitzki in '07 and Kyle Seager in '13.

• In the D-backs' 4-3 loss to the Padres, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt singled, homered and drew a walk in four trips to the plate. Since the start of the 2012 season, Goldschmidt has 156 extra-base hits and 169 walks in 1,448 plate appearances, and he owns a 145 OPS+. These three campaigns are aligned to Goldschmidt's age-24 through age-26 seasons. Looking at all first basemen who collected at least 1,000 plate appearances from their age-24 through age-26 seasons, there are eight to have extra-base hit and walk percentages as high as Goldschmidt's current numbers: Jimmie Foxx (extra-base-hit percentage 13.44, walk percentage 15.96, OPS+ 198), Lou Gehrig (13.46, 15.61, 193), Frank Thomas (11.66, 18.01, 186), Johnny Mize (12.37, 11.69, 176), Albert Pujols (12.98, 13.47, 173), Hank Greenberg (14.32, 13.51, 171), Ryan Howard (12.07, 13.07, 155) and Joey Votto (11.11, 12.35, 151).

• Facing a Rockies team that entered the game with a .982 home OPS and a claim of 7.8 runs per game at home, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee allowed six hits (two doubles) and one walk in six scoreless innings and picked up the win in New York's 5-1 victory. Gee is the first visiting starter this season to finish an effort at Coors Field and have no runs charged to him, and his game score of 64 is the highest for any visiting starter to Coors this season; the average game score of the first 15 visiting starters to Coors is 32.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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