Kluber wins 19th, strikes out 11 as Indians top White Sox
CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber isn’t letting up as the regular season winds down.
Kluber struck out 11 in eight innings to record his career-high 19th win as the Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Although the Indians have locked up their third straight AL Central title, Kluber’s goal is simple: Go into the postseason pitching as well as possible.
“I don’t want to go out there and think like it’s spring training because we’ve already clinched,” he said. “The best way to stay locked in is to keep your foot on the gas, so to speak, and stay in that competitive mind frame.”
Kluber (19-7), who allowed three runs, topped 200 strikeouts for the fifth straight season. Kluber won 18 games in three of the previous four seasons, including his two AL Cy Young Award-winning years, 2014 and 2017.
“Vintage Kluber,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “He kept it low in the zone, and kept driving it lower and lower. He stays below the zone, so you have to make adjustments.”
Omar Narvaez walked and Matt Davidson singled with two outs in the eighth, but Kluber retired Ryan LaMarre on a groundout.
In his previous start on Sept. 10, Kluber lasted only 1 2/3 innings and allowed four runs against Tampa Bay. His turn in the rotation was moved back a day to line him up to start Game 1 of the Division Series, which begins Oct. 5.
“Obviously, I had a pretty short outing last time, so I was able to get a pretty long side (session) in a couple days after that,” Kluber said. “It actually worked out fine timing-wise to where I was able to get two in.”
Indians All-Star second baseman Jose Ramirez was hit on the left arm by Carlos Rodon’s pitch in the fifth inning and walked from the plate in obvious pain. Ramirez spoke with manager Terry Francona and a team trainer, but stayed in the game and stole second base moments later.
“Fortunately it got him above the elbow, but it got him pretty good,” Francona said.
Jason Kipnis homered and Yandy Diaz added a two-run single when Cleveland scored three times in the fifth.
Andrew Miller struck out three in the ninth but allowed the potential tying run to reach base. With one out, Welington Castillo reached on Yan Gomes’ passed ball on strike three.
Miller struck out Yolmer Sanchez before Tim Anderson blooped a single to right. Miller then fanned Daniel Palka to end the game. The left-hander, who has been on the disabled list three times, picked up his second save and first since April 9.
“It keeps your adrenaline going,” Miller said about pitching the ninth. “You don’t want to mess it up. As much fun as I’ve ever had is closing out games. I love looking up at the scoreboard and looking up at the lineup card, trying to get through that.”
Rodon (6-6) allowed five runs in seven innings. Palka and Narvaez hit solo homers in the sixth for the White Sox.
White Sox slugger Jose Abreu will miss the series because of an infection in his right thigh. Abreu is batting .320 (16 for 50) with five homers and 12 RBIs in his career against Kluber.
Melky Cabrera’s RBI double and Yan Gomes’ run-scoring single gave Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the second.
Josh Donaldson, who was acquired from Toronto on Aug. 31, drew a leadoff walk and scored from first on Cabrera’s hit. Donaldson also walked in the fourth, but was 0-for-2 and is batting .133 (2 for 15) in five games with Cleveland.
The Indians rested most of their regulars Sunday, a day after clinching the division. Francona returned to his usual lineup Tuesday night with the exception of designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who has missed the last two games after tweaking his ankle.
Miller admitted he thought about getting a fourth strikeout in the ninth inning.
“I’m not going to lie,” he said. “It crossed my mind. Uhh, nah. I’m just trying to get outs.”
Palka leads AL rookies with 25 home runs and has homered four times in seven games on Chicago’s trip. He briefly moved into a tie for the major league lead among rookies before Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his 26th on Tuesday.
White Sox: OF Nicky Delmonico (stiff neck) was a late scratch. He was injured Sunday while diving for a ball in Baltimore.
Indians: Francona said Encarnacion will return Wednesday.
White Sox RHP Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.64 ERA) takes on RHP Carlos Carrasco (16-8, 3.41) in the middle game of the series. Carrasco has won both of his starts against Chicago this season, allowing one unearned run in 14 innings.