Kluber wins his 20th as Indians beat White Sox 4-0
CHICAGO (AP) Corey Kluber spread the credit for his first 20-win season, and admitted it's "a nice, round number."
Kluber struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings and won his 20th, and Brandon Guyer hit a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning as the Cleveland Indians shut out the Chicago White Sox 4-0 on Monday night.
Kluber (20-7) hit 20 victories for the first time after recording 18 wins in three of the four previous seasons. The reigning Cy Young award winner is the first 20-game winner for the Central Division champions since Cliff Lee went 22-3 in 2008, and the first Indians pitcher to win 20 games with 200 or more strikeouts since Gaylord Perry did it in 1974.
"Twenty wins is cool. It's a nice, round number, but as long as we won the game that's obviously the angle," Kluber said.
"It's a cool accomplishment, something to be proud of, but I think it just means I gave us a chance to win a lot of times. There's times when they probably picked me up and I got credited with a win. We're all pulling for each other to get to those numbers that mean something."
Kluber may have downplayed the significance of 20 wins, but his teammates and manager didn't.
"We were all nervous for him. He probably wasn't, but we were because it probably meant more to us than it did to him," Indians manager Terry Francona.
Cleveland is also the first team to have four pitchers with 200 strikeouts in a season. Kluber ran his total to 216, while Carlos Carrasco has 217, Trevor Bauer 215 and Mike Clevinger 202.
The Indians tied the Chicago Cubs for the major league lead with 17 shutouts.
Adam Rosales gave the Indians an insurance run with a home run off reliever Nate Jones to left for his first of the season in the ninth inning. Brandon Barnes and Edwin Encarnacion then added RBI singles. It was Rosales' first home run since Sept. 4, 2017, when he was with Arizona.
Indians relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen pitched a perfect eighth and ninth, respectively, and combined with Kluber to retire the final 17 batters.
Dylan Covey didn't allow a run over six innings. He scattered six hits and struck out seven with one walk in the no-decision. He has pitched 12 consecutive innings without allowing a run against Cleveland.
"Kind of a different lineup today than it was last time. Some of those guys hadn't seen me. But, yeah, definitely a big confident booster for me. I've known all year that I have had this stuff, just been trying to find that consistency with it," said Covey.
Covey was relieved by Ian Hamilton (0-2) after throwing 96 pitches over six innings. Guyer greeted Hamilton in the seventh by hitting his third pitch into the left-field seats for his seventh home run of the season.
The White Sox threatened in the second inning. They had runners on first and third with one out, but Kluber finished the inning by getting Tim Anderson and Jose Rondon swinging.
"He's a Cy Young-type pitcher. With guys like that, when you have certain opportunities, and you don't get many, you got to be able to get at least one point across and hopefully your guy is able to contain them on the offensive side," said White Sox manager Rick Renteria.
Kluber struck out the side in the third inning and then posted his seventh double-digit strikeout game of the season when he got Daniel Palka swinging to end the fifth.
"For the most part, I had pretty good command of my pitches. I don't think there was one that really stood out. It was just being able to throw all four pitches and mix them in the right spots and keep them off balance," Kluber said.
Kluber has struck out 10 or more batters in three of his last four starts and retired his final 11 batters.
The Boston Red Sox clinched home-field advantage through the postseason with a 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night. That means Cleveland will open the Division Series at the AL West winner.
White Sox first round pick Nick Madrigal threw out the first pitch. Madrigal, who was selected fourth overall in the 2018 draft from Oregon State, may be on the fast track to join the White Sox. "It's kind of out of my control at this point. Whatever the organization needs me to do, but I can definitely see this being a home for me hopefully sometime soon," said Madrigal. He hit .303 with seven doubles and 16 RBIs between the Arizona League, Class-A Winston Salem and Class-A Kannapolis.
Indians: C Roberto Perez wasn't in the lineup after leaving Sunday night's win over Boston with a bruised right shoulder. Francona said there were no lingering concerns. "He could've stayed in the game if we needed him to."
White Sox: 1B Jose Abreu remains out with a right thigh injury. His status to return this season is uncertain. ... 2B Yoan Moncada had the night off.
Indians: Francona said RHP Trevor Bauer won't throw more than 60 to 65 pitches in Tuesday's scheduled start, his second after missing 35 games with a stress fracture in his lower right leg. Bauer's performance Tuesday, Francona added, will determine whether he starts Sunday's season finale at Kansas City.
White Sox: RHP James Shields (7-16) is scheduled to make his 33rd start of the season on Tuesday. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his last five starts.
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Updated September 25, 2018