Entering Wednesday's game between the Seattle Mariners and the Cleveland Indians, the only talk of a starting pitcher making history was about Felix Hernandez.
The Mariner ace had a chance to break Tom Seaver's record of 13 straight starts of at least seven innings pitched and no more than two runs allowed. King Felix did break the record with seven innings of two-run ball. And his streak lives on to his next start, when he will go for consecutive start number 15. But Corey Kluber stole Hernandez's show in an Indians victory on Wednesday.
The breakout performer Kluber became the first pitcher in the last 100 years to throw back-to-back nine innings shutouts - and he only faced 28 batters each time. Kluber faced one batter over the nine inning minimum to defeat the Mariners 2-0.
Last week, Kluber threw the initial shutout in a loss to the Kansas City Royals. The right-hander faced just 28 Royals in a 2-1 loss. He allowed two hits and one unearned run while striking out 10 batters. He didn't walk a batter and threw just 107 pitches. But somehow, Kluber was able to outperform his last outing at Progressive Field Wednesday night.
Going up against the King, who is considered the leading candidate to win the Cy Young this season, Kluber was just about perfect. He allowed just three hits (all singles) and didn't walk a batter. He struck out eight and threw a mind-boggling 85 pitches to complete an immaculate nine innings. Kluber got some help from the double play ball. He was able to induce both Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino into twin killings.
Kluber threw just 16 balls all night long. His 69 strikes were the most ever in a complete game that took just 85 pitches or less. That stat goes back to 1988, when Major League Baseball started tracking complete game pitch counts. Of Kluber's 19 outs that did not come by way of the K, 13 came on ground balls and six came in the air.
In a game where two of the best pitchers in baseball re-wrote the history books Wednesday, offense was hard to come by. Yan Gomes provided the lone run-producing hit when he doubled in the fifth innings. The bases-loaded double scored Lonnie Chisenhall and Nick Swisher, but Felix Hernandez was able to escape any further damage. Hernandez allowed just four hits on the night.
If the rotation holds true, Kluber will start at home against the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds' offense has been struggling with injuries to Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto. And Kluber looking for a third straight shutout won't help things either. We'll see what Kluber can do for an encore.
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