Baseball

Kluber joins elite company with another postseason gem

The Klubot is programmed to dominate in October, apparently.

After blanking the Boston Red Sox over seven frames in Game 2 of the ALDS in his playoff debut, Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber – affectionately likened to a robot for his steely demeanor on the mound – held the Toronto Blue Jays scoreless through 6 1/3 innings in Friday’s American League Championship Series opener, becoming just the fifth pitcher in history (and fourth of the live-ball era) to throw at least six innings without allowing a run in each of his first two postseason outings.

Date Series IP R H BB SO WPA
Oct 7 ALDS G2 7 0 3 3 7 0.225
Oct 14 ALCS G1 6.1 0 6 2 6 0.411

If Kluber hurls six-plus scoreless frames in his next playoff appearance, the 2014 AL Cy Young award winner will join Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson as the only pitchers ever to open their postseason careers with three such outings, according to Elias Sports.

“Corey’s a tremendous competitor,” Indians closer Cody Allen told MLB.com’s Jane Lee. “It never looks like the game’s speeding up on him or it’s getting out of control, and that’s the sign of a true ace.”

Early on in Friday’s series opener, however, it didn’t look like Kluber was poised to join any elite company. In each of the first three innings, Kluber put two men on base, and he allowed a runner to get into scoring position in the fourth, too. But in each case, the 30-year-old right-hander was able to weasel his way out of trouble.

“Once he gets runners on base, it’s kinda like nothing,” catcher Roberto Perez said. “It’s unbelievable.”

The praise for Kluber came pouring out of Toronto’s clubhouse, as well, with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons raving about his slider – a pitch he used 42 times and induced 11 empty swings with – in Friday’s 2-0 victory at Progressive Field.

”Kluber is pretty good, that’s all I know,” Gibbons said. ”He’s got arguably the best right-hand breaking ball in the game. And he kept us honest with enough fastballs. And he’s got that razor-blade slider that’s tough to do anything with. A big strikeout pitch for him. He gets a lot of weak contact on them, really.”

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