July 30, 2014 – Kluber Hurls a Maddux against King Felix
There was no more marquee pitching matchup of the 2014 season than Felix Hernandez facing Corey Kluber. The two met on a Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Kluber gave up three singles in the early innings, but they were all quickly erased–two of them with ground ball double plays.
The first 4 ½ innings were played in under an hour as Kluber and Hernandez each mowed through the opposing lineup. Felix had a perfect game going through four innings, until he walked Carlos Santana to lead off the fifth.
Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a double to right field, which put Santana comfortably at third. Nick Swisher grounded a slow roller to second–Santana and Chishenall held at their bases–and Swisher beat the throw to first. After a grounder by David Murphy that forced Carlos out at home, Yan Gomes came through with a two run double.
With the 2-0 lead, Kluber pitched even more confidently and efficiently. He needed only seven pitches to retire the Mariners side in the top of the seventh.
The Indians did not threaten in the bottom of the seventh, but the Klubot returned to pitch the eighth. Kyle Seager grounded out on the second pitch. He struck out Logan Morrison looking on three perfectly located strikes, and got Mike Zunino to squib a weak grounder with the first pitch he saw. After a 6 pitch eighth inning, Kluber had thrown eight shutout innings using only 77 pitches.
The Tribe went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, and Kluber quickly returned to the mound looking for the final three outs. On a steady diet of nasty sinkers, Brad Miller, James Jones, and Dustin Ackley all grounded out to end the game. 85 pitches was the new Indians record for fewest pitches in a shutout. 69 of the 85 pitches were strikes.
Terry Francona later said, “He threw 16 balls. My math is horrendous, but that’s like two an inning?”
Although Kluber’s league-leading 18 wins were not quite enough to put the Indians in the postseason in 2014, they were enough to win him the AL Cy Young award when he garnered 17 first place votes over Felix’s 13.