Welcome back Mr. Kluber!
The Indians' ace returned Thursday afternoon after missing a month due to a back injury and looked fantastic in the Tribe’s 8-0 victory over the Athletics. Kluber threw six scoreless innings, striking out 10, with a heavy mix of extra juicy breaking balls. 32 of the right-hander’s 77 pitches were slider/curveballs, leading to befuddled Oakland hitters for much of the afternoon. It’s Kluber’s 18th time striking out 10 batters or more with only one walk, a club record.
The Tribe scored the first run of the game in the third after a Daniel Robertson double and wild pitch from A’s starter Jharel Cotton.
A four-run sixth really opened it up for the good guys. It was a sloppy frame, with Oakland committing two errors (they lead the Majors) to help drive A’s starter Jharel Cotton from the game. Erik Gonzalez and Jason Kipnis reached base to start the inning, followed by a LGT-pleasing sacrifice bunt attempt from Francisco Lindor. A’s third baseman Ryon Healy bobbled the bunt and Lindor beat his throw to load the bases. A Michael Brantley walk and Carlos Santana single plated two, giving the Tribe a 3-0 lead.
Bradley Zimmer followed with a groundout to second, forcing out Brantley at home. The A’s thought they doubled up Zimmer at first and got a sprinting Carlos Santana at home, but the replay challenge overruled the calls on the field and Zimmer and Santana both ended up safe. Another Healy error later in the inning allowed Jose Ramirez to score. When the dust settled on the long sixth, the Tribe was up 5-0 and things were in control.
Some box score gems include Gonzalez finishing with three hits to raise his average to .286, and Danny Salazar getting some action out of the bullpen, throwing a scoreless eighth inning.
Up next for the Tribe is a three-game series in Kansas City. Josh Tomlin is scheduled to start for the Indians.