Kluber hadn't ever looked this good, at least in the majors. Today's start marked the first time he went 7 innings, and he did while throwing only 86 pitches. He did give up two runs, but both of those runs came on solo homers in the fifth inning, and he shrugged those off to pitch two more perfect innings before leaving with quite a bit of gas in his tank.
As you can expect with such a low pitch count, Kluber was very agressive in the strike zone, and the Chicago hitters were aggressive with those pitches. Even though Kluber opened his outing with a walk and would give out three free passes on the day, his pitch count by inning remained low:
(via Brooks Baseball)
|Inning||Pitches in Inning||Strikes in Inning||Strike% in Inning||Cumulative Total Pitches||Pitch LWTS in Inning|
Only in the fifth inning, the one in which he gave up his two runs, did he throw over 15 pitches in an inning. Kluber will be getting a return engagement with the White Sox a week from today in his last start of the season. The Indians have kept him in the rotation largely because of potential; his secondary stuff has been very effective even if he's getting beat badly on his fastball. But with a result like this, you can see exactly what that potential is capable of.
The other star of the game was Russ Canzler, who is also auditioning this month for a spot on next year's club. He spent most of the season in AAA while Casey Kotchman, Shelley Duncan, Johnny Damon, and Jose Lopez were taking at-bats in Cleveland. Canzler has done ok, hitting .269/290/.388 going into today's game, but of late he's really picked things up. Last night he hit a key two-run homer, and today he followed that up with a three-hit day, including a homer and a double. The home run came in the second, and the double was one of the key hits in a three-run fourth inning.
All the damage was done against Francisco Liriano, who was acquired in a deadline deal from Minnesota. The Chicago southpaw impersonated Ubaldo Jimenez, throwing 74 pitches in his 3.2 innings, and though the Chicago bullpen would hold the Indians scoreless for the rest of the game, the runs scored off Liriano would be enough. Vinnie Pestano, after giving up the Dunn homer the night before, came back to pitch a scoreless eighth, and Chris Perez would allow a Paul Konerko home run but would nevertheless maintain the lead.
If Detroit takes advantage tonight, the White Sox could go into tomorrow's game in a tie for first place with eight games to play.