CLEVELAND -- The Indians owed it to Corey Kluber to make sure the club's ace pitcher earned a win Wednesday at Progressive Field against the visiting Seattle Mariners.
Kluber deserved a win in his previous start Thursday in Kansas City in which he took a perfect game into late innings before a crazy Ryan Raburn spiked ball throw allowed a run to score and John Axford dished up a walk-off hit cost Kluber a game in which he dominated the Royals.
Thus, the Indians were on a mission to make it up to their right-handed ace -- even if meant beating one of the best pitchers in baseball in Mariner's right-hander Felix Hernandez.
And that's exactly what they did in handing Kluber two runs to work with, as the right-hander took care of the rest with a complete game, three-hit shutout that ended in a quick 2-0 Indians victory. The victory marked Kluber's first career shutout and second career complete game.
It was quite a daunting task, given that "King Felix" entered the evening's action with an 11-2 record and 1.99 ERA. But with Kluber matching Hernandez zero for zero through the first four innings, the Tribe offense proved Hernandez is human after all.
In their two-run fifth, the Indians broke up a potential perfect game, a possible no-hitter and a shutout -- all in one inning. Carlos Santana led off the inning by drawing his league-leading 73rd walk of the season. Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a double that put a pair of runners in scoring position.
Nick Swisher beat out an infield single on a head-first slide when Hernandez was late covering first base late to load the bases. The Mariners defense cut down two runners at home plate on fielder choice hits by David Murphy and Chris Dickerson, but Yan Gomes drove in a pair of runs before the inning came to a close with the Tribe leading.
That was all the Indians would get against Hernandez, who held them pat the rest of the way, finishing with two runs on four hits and two walks over seven innings and striking out five. The last time Hernandez gave up two or more runs was May 12th – and that was a rare off-day in which he dished up four runs to the Tampa Bay Rays.
While Hernandez went through 103 pitches over seven innings, Kluber still had only used 78 of his 85 pitches through eight, as he methodically mowed through the Mariners lineup in timely fashion. As Kluber came out of the dugout and headed to the mound in the ninth inning, he earned a loud round of applause from the Tribe faithful.
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