Kluber leads Tribe to sweep over White Sox
Kluber records American League-leading eighth win
The Chicago White Sox were already in major trouble before Corey Kluber threw one pitch.
Once he had a big lead, surrender was their only option.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner pitched six shutout innings and became the first AL pitcher to eight wins as the Cleveland Indians rolled to their fifth straight win, 9-1 Wednesday over the sagging White Sox to complete a three-game series sweep.
Spotted a nine-run cushion after four innings, Kluber (8-2) had little trouble with baseball’s worst team.
Kluber allowed three hits and struck out 10 while improving to 4-0 with a 0.33 ERA in four starts against Central Division teams this season.
“You know he has pitched so many games where you look up and it’s nothing-nothing in the fifth,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve all seen it. So to give him a cushion, any pitcher, but he certainly knows what to do with it.”
Melky Cabrera drove in three runs off Reynaldo Lopez (1-4) and Michael Brantley extended his MLB-high hitting streak to 19 games for Cleveland.
Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion connected for back-to-back homers in the fourth off Chris Volstad as the Indians opened a 9-0 lead.
The White Sox committed two more errors, dropped their fourth in a row and fell to 16-37.
Yolmer Sanchez homered leading off the ninth as the White Sox avoided a shutout.
Kluber is tough to deal with under normal circumstances, but with a big lead and pitching at home, he’s nearly unbeatable. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA at Progressive Field, and he didn’t walk a batter for the fourth straight start — a career-best span of 281/3 innings.
Chicago’s Yoan Mocada led off the first with a single off Kluber, who then struck out eight of the next 12 and spent the rest of the day fine-tuning his already fine-tuned collection of pitches.
“You kind of train yourself or teach yourself to take each hitter, each pitch, whatever you want to call it, as if the game was tied,” he said. “I think that through experience I’m sure every pitcher would tell you, as soon as you let your guard down a little bit, things usually bite you in the rear.”
Cabrera’s two-run double highlighted a five-run third for the Indians.
Brantley singled in the first when the Indians took a 2-0 lead against Lopez, whose wild pitch brought in Greg Allen with Cleveland’s first run before Cabrera delivered a one-out sacrifice fly.
Since moving into the No. 2 spot in Cleveland’s order, Brantley is batting .368 (29 of 79) with six homers, 18 RBIs and 20 runs scored.
All-Star reliever Andrew Miller has been cleared to begin a throwing program after he had his right knee evaluated by Dr. David Altchek in New York.
Altchek confirmed Miller has inflammation. The Indians said he’ll begin “a gradual progression back to mound activity.” There is no timetable for his return.
Indians: Rookie Shane Bieber will make his major league debut — on his 23rd birthday — in the opener of a four-game series at Minnesota. A fourth-round pick in 2016, is the first pitcher in Cleveland history to debut on his birthday.