Stephanie Storm’s final thoughts on the Indians 7-1 win over the Reds Monday at Progressive Field.
1) Turns out that Corey Kluber is human after all. Well, at least part human.
* In Kluber’s 7 1/3–inning outing Monday, the Indians right-hander threw 33 balls (which was one more than in his previous start – a nine-inning masterpiece in which he recorded his first career complete game shutout).
* He also gave up a run in the eighth inning (which snapped a streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings and a streak of 25 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run).
* And gasp, Kluber also issued a walk in the second inning (that halted a streak of 22 2/3 innings without a walk).
2) In all Monday, the “Klubot” scattered six hits and struck out seven - which by the measure of a normal pitcher, would be considered a really good outing. But coming off his first career complete-game shutout and the one before that in Kansas City, where Kluber took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, Monday’s outing kind of felt pedestrian compared to the standards by which we’ve quickly come to hold Kluber to recently.
“Like all pitchers, you go through periods where you don’t have things working,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “(But) even when you’re not at your best, you’re still good. I think that’s where Klubes is getting.”
3) MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian has been on a roll lately with his catchy nicknames for the Tribe’s players. Lonnie Chisenhall so liked his “Lonnie Baseball” nickname that Bastian bestowed upon him, the Indians third baseman had it patented. Heck, I even noticed Monday night that the Indians team shop even sells “Lonnie Baseball” T-shirts.
The “Klubot” nickname may not be as catchy, but it is incredibly fitting.
4) The running joke for a majority of the last two seasons had been that none of us had ever seen Kluber smile publicly. But then I learned otherwise when I watched him one Sunday afternoon playing with his daughter in the clubhouse after a game, watching as he spun her around and around in the big leather chairs that are stationed in front of each of the players lockers in the home clubhouse at Progressive Field.
5) I happened to catch another glimpse of the human side of Kluber late Monday night, as a group of us media waited for more than a half hour to speak to him after he picked up his 12th game of the season. Typically, Kluber is waiting by his locker for us after his starts, knowing the quicker he talks to us, the quicker we leave him alone and get out of the room to go write our stories.
Somehow though, Kluber forgot to wait for us and instead went in the back of the locker room that we’re not allowed in and spent some time riding a stationary bike. When he was done, he entered the main room of the clubhouse we’re allowed in. As soon as he looked up and saw the group waiting – he actually smiled. And then quickly apologized. I mean, sincerely apologized. Honestly, it was…weird.
6) Understand, talking to the media is something few baseball players not named Nick Swisher enjoy doing. But as soon as the TV camera lights went on and the microphones were pointed at him, the smiling Kluber went into the same mode he does on the mound. He went into Klubot mode.
It’s like he finds a spot on the wall behind the group and stares ahead, rarely blinking. His face shows no expression. His voice is monotone. He speaks quietly and with a measured pace and quite honestly, rarely gives us anything good to quote him about.
7) But that same boring post-game Kluber is a big part of what makes him so darn good on the mound. The Klubot’s focused. He’s measured. He’s never rattled.
A perfect example came in the third inning Monday. The Tribe was clinging to a slim 1-0 lead, when rookie shortstop Jose Ramirez had a tough go at it with back-to-back plays that cost Kluber outs. One a mental error, the other a throwing error, that extended the inning and forced Kluber to then need to secure five outs to get out of the jam with two runners on the base paths behind him. In was little surprise to anyone who’s watched him pitch this season that Kluber simply bore down and got out of the jam unscathed.
“He handles everything,” Francona said. “He throws hard and has late movement in both directions. That’s a huge part of what he does. He’s one of the best pitchers in the league. Klubes doesn’t let much bother him and he’s got good enough stuff where you put that combination together, what you see is the final result.”
8) Kluber’s body of work Monday may not be in the same category as his near perfection over his last two outings, but it more than enough to hand him his fifth consecutive victory.
9) The last Indians player to accomplish the feat? The Klubot himself, who did it at the end of last season as he laid the groundwork for becoming the Tribe’s undisputed ace of the staff this season.