Despite trading Justin Masterson to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon, the Cleveland Indians still have a legitimate ace on their roster. His name is Corey Kluber, and he continued to cement his ace status with a dominant and historic outing against the Seattle Mariners.
The 28-year-old right-hander needed only 85 pitches to throw his first career complete-game shutout, and that incredible efficiency put him in elite company.
Corey Kluber threw an 85-pitch shutout tonight against Seattle. Only the seventh blanking on 85 or fewer pitches since turn of millennium.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2014
The previous six: Aaron Cook (81), Jeff Karstens (83), Aaron Cook (79), Rich Harden (81), Roy Halladay (83), Jon Lieber (78). Cook twice!— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 31, 2014
More amazing, Kluber faced one batter over the minimum in nine complete innings for his second consecutive start, which actually rewrote the MLB history books.
Corey Kluber 1st pitcher in MLB history to face 28 batters or fewer in back-to-back starts of at least 9 IP.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 31, 2014
Both the Indians and Baseball Reference confirmed Kluber's accomplishment.
In his previous outing on July 24, Kluber carried a perfect game bid into the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals before allowing a hit and later an unearned run on Ryan Raburn's throwing error. He ended up getting a no-decision in a game the Royals won 2-1 in extra innings.
On Wednesday, he allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out eight in Cleveland's 2-0 victory.
Felix Hernandez while the Mariners ace was also pitching his way into the history books. Hernandez set an MLB record with his 14th straight start of at least seven innings with two or fewer runs.As you can tell by the scores, the pressure was on Kluber to be great in both outings, which makes both all the more impressive. In fact, on Wednesday, he actually outdueled
Hernandez allowed exactly two runs in seven innings after carrying a perfect game bid into the fifth inning. A four-batter stretch that inning culminating with Yan Gomes' two-run double ultimately did him in and opened the door for Kluber to continue his remarkable run.
''You rarely see two guys that good and that on top of their game to boot,'' Indians manager Francona said. ''The way Felix was throwing the only way to beat him was the way Corey threw. Sixteen balls? That's like, two an inning? That's phenomenal.''
That's actually less than two an inning, which in and of itself is remarkable.
''That guy (Kluber) is good, what he did tonight was not a fluke, trust me,'' Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''All the credit goes to him. He's on quite a stretch.''
The two starts have been like few in MLB history, but his whole season has been pretty special. After Wednesday, he's 11-6 with a 2.61 ERA. In six May starts, he struck out between eight and 13 in each outing and posted a 5-1 mark with a 2.09 ERA, which confirms he's been locked in for awhile now.
He probably could have been an All-Star, too, but all Francona and company are hoping for now is that Kluber can provide more of the same going forward. With him currently sitting on 158 1/3 innings — which is 11 more than his previous MLB high over his four seasons — it will be interesting to see just how much he has in the tank.
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