Tribe ace Corey Kluber bounced back Tuesday night, tossing a shutout in a 6-0 win over the Rays at Progressive Field. First-place Cleveland has now won five in row (10 straight at home) while Tampa Bay dropped its sixth consecutive game.
After allowing a season-worst eight runs in his last outing, Kluber recovered well, allowing just three hits to the Rays. The 30-year-old righty surrendered his first hit in the second inning and didn't give up another one until the last frame. He struck out nine batters -- one shy of his season high -- while walking two batters.
"I thought early on he was fighting his command," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "First three innings, it looked like strikes and balls were pretty even, but he didn't give up any runs. Then you could see when he started to settle in. They were pretty aggressive for the most part. Some first-pitch outs, which really helped."
Rays lefty Blake Snell also had a bounce-back outing in the loss. Snell exited after 6 2/3 innings in which he gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits. He has now given up eight runs in his last two outings, but only three of those have been earned. The left-hander struck out three and walked three.
"Corey Kluber's pretty good to say the least, stating the obvious," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He had it all going tonight, as you saw, a lot of late action. He punched us out and created a lot of weak contact. That's the sign of a really good pitcher. … The bright spot is we had a really good pitcher on the mound also. Really happy with the way Blake threw the ball."
The Tribe blew the game open once the Rays dug into their bullpen, as Jose Ramirez andJuan Uribe went deep back to back in the eighth off Steve Geltz. Uribe has now homered in four consecutive games since returning from a minor injury.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kluber K's Rays: The Indians' ace punched out nine Rays batters Tuesday night. It marked the eighth straight game that Kluber has recorded six or more strikeouts and the 13th time he has achieved that feat in 15 games. At one point, Kluber retired 13 consecutive batters from the third inning to the seventh. During that span, he whiffed four batters.
Three-base error:Jason Kipnis singled to center field to drive home the Indians' first run in the third. When Rays center fielder Desmond Jennings let the ball get past him, the ball rolled to the wall. Before the ball could get retrieved and back to the infield, Kipnis had rounded the bases to give the Indians a 2-0 lead, while giving Jennings a three-base error.
"If I had to guess, it probably hit a sprinkler head out there," Cash said. "Real tricky hop. Not much D.J. could do on that whatsoever. He's coming in, trying to make a play and get it in as quick as possible with the catcher at second base. It just took one of those hops. Very unfortunate. If we walked out there, we'd probably see a sprinkler head right in that area."
Snell solid: Snell, the Rays' No. 1 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, made his third start and seemed to make strides. On Thursday against the Mariners, the lefty showed quality stuff, but he only lasted 3 1/3 innings as the Mariners ran his pitch count up to 92 pitches. Tuesday he pitched 6 2/3 innings and needed only 104 pitches. Snell has handled adversity well, too. Five of the nine runs that have scored on his watch have been unearned, but the rookie has managed to keep his composure.
Success off the southpaw: In the fourth, Tribe right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall flared a single that appeared to score Mike Napoli from second. However, Napoli was ruled out after a replay challenge by Tampa Bay. Next time up, Chisenhall smacked one into center that successfully scored Ramirez in the sixth. It was the lefty's second hit off Snell. Chisenhall entered Tuesday's contest with just six hits in 24 at-bats against left-handers.
"I know [Snell's] young, but there are some balls that he scatters," Francona said. "But he's got a nice arm. When he started throwing his changeup about the fourth inning, there was a stretch he was pretty tough. But Lonnie had some good at bats."
QUOTABLE "It was kind of the perfect storm. It's like icing in hockey, nobody is there. The ball is ahead of everybody. That was a weird hop, I thought they could have given him a home run because it was such a weird hop." -- Francona, on Kipnis scoring on a three-base error
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS The Rays recalled Geltz from Triple-A Durham on Friday, and he retired all four batters he'd faced since then -- until Tuesday night when he started the eighth and allowed back-to-back home runs to Ramirez and Uribe. The right-hander has now surrendered nine home runs in 18 2/3 innings.
"I don't know what to say, you feel for the guy," said Cash about Geltz's plight. "It's unfortunate, he's had kind of a bad string of luck to go on top of probably not making the best pitches. But Geltzy's a competitor. He's doing everything he can. I mean, believe me, I can speak for him, it's killing him."
Uribe became the first Tribe member to homer in four consecutive games since Kipnis did it from July 31-Aug. 3 in 2011
UNDER REVIEW The Rays challenged a safe call at home plate in the fourth when Napoli tried to score on Chisenhall's single to left. After a review of 2 minutes and 17 seconds, the call on the field was overturned, making Napoli the third out of the inning and keeping the Indians lead at 2-0.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays:Chris Archer (4-9, 4.60) will make his 16th start and is hoping to get the slumping Rays on the right track on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The Indians originally drafted Archer in the fifth round of the 2006 June Draft, but he was traded to the Cubs. In four career starts against Indians, he is 0-4 with a 4.91 ERA.
Indians: Right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-2, 3.46 ERA) will be making his 17th appearance (11th start) for the Tribe on Wednesday. Since returning to the rotation, Bauer has allowed more than three runs in a start just once. This month, he has allowed just seven earned runs over 29 2/3 innings in four starts.