Following an abysmal stretch from their starting pitchers, the Cleveland Indians' rotation has been superb over the past week.
Corey Kluber has been instrumental to the turnaround.
Kluber looks to win three consecutive starts for the first time in his career and lead the Indians to a fourth straight win Saturday night against the visiting Minnesota Twins.
After their starters posted a 7.59 ERA during an eight-game losing streak, the Indians (37-35) have won seven of nine behind a starting staff that has accumulated a 2.21 ERA. Scott Kazmir went seven innings Friday and Cleveland held a Minnesota team that entered having amassed 22 runs over a three-game winning streak to five hits in a 5-1 victory.
"You can look at it one of two ways,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We wasted an opportunity or he made pitches when he had to. By the look of the whole work tonight, he made pitches when he had to.''
Perhaps no Indians pitcher has been hotter than Kluber (5-4, 3.58 ERA), who helped the Indians snap their losing streak by allowing one run over eight innings in a 5-2 victory over Texas on June 11. Five days later, the right-hander allowed seven hits without a walk over eight innings in a 2-0 victory over Washington.
"You just have to stay in the moment, so I take it pitch by pitch,'' said Kluber, who has issued six base on balls over his last seven starts. "I'm not thinking too far ahead. I'm not thinking if I can get a double play here or a strikeout there. Those things happen as a result of making good pitches.''
Although Kluber has an exceptional rate of 1.65 walks per nine innings pitched, he issued a season-high four base on balls and three runs over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-2 loss to the Twins (33-37) on May 5. He walked Joe Mauer twice and Trevor Plouffe connected off him for a two-run homer.
Plouffe had two hits Friday, and is batting .364 (8 for 22) with six RBIs in six games since coming off the disabled list with a strained left calf.
Jason Kipnis led Cleveland in the series opener with three RBIs, and is batting .355 with 12 RBIs in 18 games this month. He is also 3 for 6 lifetime against scheduled starter P.J. Walters (2-2, 3.23).
After posting a 0.68 ERA in his first two June starts, Walters permitted four runs and nine hits - including two homers - in 5 1-3 innings in Sunday's 5-2 loss at Detroit.
"I'd make a good pitch, then back it up with two bad ones. It was just all day long. Not locating the ball,'' the right-hander said.
In two career starts against the Indians - both in Cleveland - Walters has a 5.79 ERA without a decision.
Kluber's victory over the Nationals on Sunday marked his first career win in Cleveland, despite a 2.74 ERA at Progressive Field this season. He has received four total runs of support in four home starts this year.