ACE-OFF: Kluber and Severino set for duel in the Bronx

NEW YORK -- Aces will match up on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

Corey Kluber will pitch for the Cleveland Indians against the New York Yankees and Luis Severino in a battle of surging teams.

"It's a really good matchup," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "You have two pitchers that are throwing the ball extremely well. Corey Kluber's been an ace, and then Sevy's developing into an ace. So, it should be a pretty good pitching matchup."

Kluber is 12-4 with a 2.65 ERA heading into the opener of a three-game series between the leaders in the American League Central and the AL wild-card race. He is 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in five starts this month as well as 5-1 with a 2.43 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break.

Kluber is coming off his first loss since July 4. On Wednesday, he struck out 12 while allowing two runs on four hits over 7 2/3 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox. During the game, he reached 200 strikeouts for the fourth straight season.

The next night he took over the AL ERA lead when the Indians caused Chris Sale's mark to go from 2.62 to 2.88.

As sharp as Kluber was Wednesday, he will hope to equally as effective as his last start against the Yankees. Kluber led the Indians to a 5-1 win over New York in Cleveland on Aug. 3, producing a 106-pitch, three-hit complete game. He struck out 11, walked one and faced three over the minimum.

He is 4-1 with a 1.71 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees. In New York, he is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts.

"Yeah, I think they are all big games," Kluber said. "We got a tight race in the division, and I think that you know we're just trying to take it day by day and win each day."

New York's current roster is hitting a combined .167 (20-for-120) with 37 strikeouts against Kluber. Todd Frazier and Aaron Hicks, who spent time in the AL Central, are 2-for-23 and 3-for-20, respectively, against him, while Chase Headley is 0-for-11.

Severino (11-5, 3.10 ERA) is 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his eight starts since the All-Star break. The one loss was Aug. 12 when he allowed 10 runs (eight earned) against the Red Sox.

Severino has rebounded nicely from the rough outing against Boston.

He helped the Yankees sweep four games from the New York Mets by allowing an unearned run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings on Aug. 17. On Wednesday, he gave up one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings during a 10-2 win at Detroit.

The two starts are indicative of his turnaround from last season, when he was 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA as a starting pitcher, earning a demotion to the minors.

"Last year, I wasn't commanding any of my pitches," Severino said. "I wasn't throwing my changeup. This year, I'm trying not to overthrow and locate my fastball and my breaking stuff."

Severino will try to do those things against an opponent he beat earlier this month and is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three career starts against. Severino remained unbeaten against the Indians by holding them to one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings Aug. 6 in Cleveland.

The Indians' current roster is a combined 8-for-50 (.160) off Severino. Edwin Encarnacion had one of the two hits in the last meeting and is 3-for-13 lifetime against Severino.

Opposing an ace is hardly new for Severino this season. The right-hander has faced Sale twice, Jon Lester, Marcus Stroman, Jose Quintana, Felix Hernandez and Michael Fulmer.

In those starts, Severino is 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA, though he downplayed the opposing pitcher by saying: "That's the hitters' problem."

Neither team experienced much difficulty Sunday.

The Indians won their fourth straight and completed a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals with a 12-0 rout. The defending AL champions are 6 1/2 games ahead in the division and 13-4 in their past 17 games.

Cleveland did not allow a run in the series, throwing three consecutive shutouts for the first time since Aug. 18-19, 1956, against the Washington Senators.

The Indians have not allowed a run in 28 innings. It is the longest streak in the majors this season and the team's longest since May 9-12, 2008.

Meanwhile, the Indians scored nine runs in the second inning Sunday as Yan Gomes hit a grand slam and Carlos Santana hit a three-run homer.

"We know what kind of club we can be," Gomes said. "We don't rely on one guy. It's top to bottom, everyone can do it. And nobody wants to face our pitching staff, the way they attack hitters."

The Yankees are 9-4 in their past 13 games as they enter a stretch of seven straight home games against Cleveland and Boston. They are 2 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East after Starlin Castro went 4-for-4 in a 10-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.

"I think we're definitely playing better, and obviously it's really important this time of year with how much time is left and the week we have ahead," Girardi said. "So you want it to continue, stay on a roll."