The Cleveland Indians are on a roll. And the entire state of Ohio can start to take notice.
The Indians defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 7-1, on Monday night to win the first game of the annual Ohio Cup. This year, it's just a two-game series between the Buckeye State rivals, but the Indians are already off to a hot start. They're on a roll extended from a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers.
Cleveland has now won five of its last six games. A six-hit, one-run performance by Corey Kluber helped lift the Tribe on Monday.
"As advertised," Reds manager Bryan Price said of Kluber on Indians.com. "I know he's a tremendous pitcher. I think we all knew that coming in. But, we did have five runners on in the first three innings, got his pitch count up, we did some nice things, we competed well."
Kluber, 28, is now 11-6 on the year. He sports a 2.61 earned run average with 170 strikeouts on the season and just 30 walks.
He threw 110 pitches, with 77 strikes in his 7 1/3 innings against the Reds.
''Klubes has pitched to the point where, heck yeah, you better play with confidence,'' manager Terry Francona told reporters. ''He's one of the best pitchers in the league.''
Kluber hasn't lost a game since June 30 and he has been on a 17-inning scoreless streak that was broken up on Monday. He has established himself as the Indians' ace, especially after the departure of Justin Masterson, who was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Deadspin reports that Kulber has been one of the most dominating pitchers in all of the Major Leagues this season.
"Kluber has been spectacular all year, which is hard to believe considering that he was a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft and didn't even break into the bigs until 2012," the site says.
The Birmingham, Ala. native is a master of off-speed pitches and uses his sinker ball to control hitters.
“I think like all players, pitchers, you go through periods where you have things working,” manager Francona said. “Even when you’re not at your best, you’re still good. I think that’s kind of where Klubes is getting.”
The Indians are now 57-55 on the season, though they remain in third place in the American League Central Division. The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers remain ahead of Cleveland in the standings.
The Tigers made national headlines recently with the acquisition of David Price — a sure-fire ace that can bolster any pitching staff. The move looked to ensure the Tigers top spot in the division. However, another pitcher from the division may be the key to the playoff picture.
It's Corey Kluber. His dominance on Monday, against a competing team from the National League, showed that he is bearing down to close the season out on a high note.
The Indians are on a roll and Kluber can maintain their success for the rest of the season.