CLEVELAND — A number of impressive and lengthy streaks came to an end for ace Corey Kluber on Friday night.
You can probably guess the rest as far as the Indians were concerned.
With Kluber turning in his first poor outing of the season and Cleveland’s offense firing blanks for much of the night, Central Division rival Minnesota opened a three-game series at Progressive Field with a 6-3 win.
Kluber allowed four runs on four hits — two home runs — over only five innings, snapping his streak of consecutive starts surrendering three runs or fewer at 26 games. Perhaps more of note was Kluber’s first walk in seven starts.
Eduardo Escobar was the recipient two batters into the fourth inning, bringing Kluber’s consecutive innings without a walk total to an end at 46 1⁄3.
Escobar scored on Brian Dozier’s two-run home run — snapping an 0-for-20 skid for the second baseman — as the Twins took control with three runs in the inning for a 4-0 lead.
Kluber departed after throwing only 65 pitches.
“We lean on him so heavily,” manager Terry Francona said. “On a night when he had a couple misfires that proved he’s human, why make him go out for two more (innings) and run his pitch count up to 100? We’re down four and it’s not like we’re not trying to win, but save some of his bullets because if we want to get where we want to go, he’s going to have a major part in that — so on one night when he didn’t command his best, try to give him a little break.”
While Kluber said he wanted to stay in, he understood his manager’s decision.
“(I was) just out of whack a little bit mechanically,” said Kluber, who suffered his first loss since May 8 at Milwaukee. “Obviously didn’t make good pitches to a few guys, made some mistakes and they took advantage of it.
“I understand his reasoning. Obviously I didn’t want to come out of the game. He explained it to me, it wasn’t just, ‘Hey, you’re done.’ I think it’s probably dictated by the situation. Obviously our job is to go out there and pitch until he tells us that we’re done. But I also don’t believe it’s our job to question him when he does say that. I think he’s the manager and you go out there and you pitch until he says you’re done.”
There was no surprise who was doing the damage for Minnesota.
Left fielder Eddie Rosario continued his torrid pace against the Indians, putting the Twins on the board two batters into the game on a solo homer. He also led off the fateful fourth with a double, scoring on shortstop Francisco Lindor’s error on a potential double-play ball.
Rosario is batting .400 (12-for-30) with five homers and nine RBIs against Cleveland this year. He entered the night with a lifetime .342 batting average, 13 homers and 31 RBIs against the Indians.
“As a hitter, it’s amazing to see someone who’s locked in,” Lindor said. “It don’t matter what you throw and where you throw it. They’re going to hit it and hit it hard. He’s having a great season. I think he’s an All-Star. I wish him nothing but the best, continue to do his things, but not against us.”
“Geez, man. You look up there and what, he has 15 home runs,” Francona said of Rosario. “I was going to say it feels like half of them are against us, but I think they are. And he’s ready to hit from the first pitch. He doesn’t mess around. He feels good about himself.”
Twins starter Kyle Gibson put a stranglehold on Cleveland’s offense, allowing only a run on three hits over seven innings.
“In my opinion, and maybe not tonight, but the breaking ball that he came up with has made him a much better pitcher than maybe what we saw two years ago,” Francona said of Gibson, who entered the night with a 3.45 ERA over 13 starts.
The Indians committed two errors, both by Lindor, who had a rough night all the way around, going 0-for-4 and striking out to end the game with a runner on.
“Yeah, made mistakes and it cost a couple runs and that’s pretty much it,” he said. “I continue to work as hard as I can to try to be the best I can be and today I wasn’t at my best.”
Actually, Lindor hasn’t been at his best defensively on more than a couple occasions. He committed 10 errors in 158 games last season, but already has that many through 67 games this year.
“He had that one streak, that one week there where he had five or six (errors),” Francona said of Lindor. “He’s so good. We forget how young he is sometimes, because he’s so good. If that’s the worst thing we can come up with, he’s pretty good.”
Catcher Yan Gomes was the only Cleveland player with more than a hit, driving in his team’s first two runs with a single in the sixth and a solo homer in the ninth.
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