Kluber Day! Tribe ace almost unbeatable since return from DL
CLEVELAND -- The Indians look to end a two-game skid on Tuesday when they send their stopper to the mound for the opener of a two-game interleague series against the visiting Colorado Rockies.
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on SportsTime Ohio
Corey Kluber, who will be on the mound for Cleveland, is flashing the form he had in his Cy Young Award-winning 2014 season.
The Indians come into the contest after splitting a four-game series with the New York Yankees at Progressive Field. The Indians (59-50) won the first two games, but dropped the last two after their offense disappeared. The Indians lost 2-1 and 8-1, and will look to bounce back offensively against the Rockies.
Kluber (9-3, 2.77 ERA) doesn't need a lot of offensive support, because he tends not to give up many runs. After spending most of the month of May on the disabled list with a lower back strain, Kluber has been almost unbeatable since his return.
In 12 starts since coming off the disabled list, Kluber is 6-1 with a 1.77 ERA and has limited the opponents' batting average to .172 while averaging 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kluber has struck out eight or more batters in his last 12 consecutive starts. Only three other pitchers in major league history have done that, and they are all in the Hall of Fame: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Nolan Ryan.
In his last start, a 5-1 win over the Yankees on Thursday, Kluber tossed a three-hit, 11-strikeout complete game.
"He knows what he wants to do, and he's able to do it," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He keeps himself in great shape, and he never gets tired."
Kluber will face a challenge in trying to deal with the Rockies' potent lineup. Colorado (64-48) leads the National League in hitting with a team average of .276. The Rockies also are averaging an NL-best 5.3 runs per game.
The ring leader of that group is Nolan Arenado, who is hitting .317 with 25 home runs and an NL-leading 98 RBIs. Arenado comes into the Cleveland series on one of his hottest streaks of the year.
In 66 at bats over his last 16 games, Arenado is hitting .409 with seven home runs, 25 RBIs, a .458 on-base percentage and .818 slugging percentage.
In any big moment in the game, the hitter Kluber does not want to see at the plate is Arenado, who is batting an amazing .444 with runners in scoring position.
"I want the moment, the at-bat," Arenado told MLB.com. "I don't like failing in them, but I don't mind them. I feel as comfortable as you can be in that situation."
Kluber's mound opponent Tuesday night will be right-hander German Marquez (9-4, 4.11), who hasn't lost a game since June 26. In six starts since then, he is 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA.
Marquez's last start came on Thursday, when he got a no-decision in the Rockies' 5-4 win over the Mets. Marquez pitched six innings, allowing three runs, with five strikeouts and three walks.
Marquez has never faced the Indians. In two career interleague starts, he is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
Kluber's only career appearance against the Rockies came on May 30, 2014. Kluber got the win in a 5-2 Indians' victory. In 7 1/3 innings he gave up two runs on five hits, with 12 strikeouts and one walk.
In 18 career interleague starts, Kluber is 11-4 with a 2.27 ERA.
However, the Indians this year have the worst interleague record of any American League team: 5-13.