Corey Kluber is pitching up to the standards he set winning the AL Cy Young Award last year, but he has nothing to show for it.
Facing a scuffling strikeout-prone team may provide the path to his first win of the season Wednesday when the Cleveland Indians face the Chicago White Sox.
Kluber (0-1, 2.49) has limited opponents to a .176 batting average, yielded two or fewer runs in each outing and has a 10.38 strikeouts-per-9 innings ratio. One of the reasons he is winless in the early going is a lack of run support - the right-hander has received five runs in his three starts, and Cleveland (5-8) has batted .184 overall in those games.
''Anytime you don't come away with the win, it's disappointing,'' said Kluber, who struck out eight Friday and allowed two runs in eight innings at Minnesota before the Indians lost 3-2 in 11. ''There will be numerous games where the offense does really well and pitching struggles, or vice versa."
The Indians didn't have to do much in his last start versus the White Sox as he tossed a five-hit shutout and struck out eight on Sept. 6. Kluber was 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in four outings against them in 2014 and is 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA in nine lifetime starts and 10 overall games versus Chicago.
Kluber has fared well against Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham, limiting the duo to five hits in 41 at-bats, but Jose Abreu and Conor Gillaspie have gone 12 for 33.
Abreu hit his team-leading fourth homer and drove in both runs for the White Sox (5-8), who have been held to three or fewer runs seven times already. While the top three of Chicago's lineup produced in Tuesday's 6-2 defeat - Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera and Abreu went 6 for 12 - the bottom six hitters went 2 for 23 with 11 strikeouts.
The strikeouts have been an early cause of concern for Chicago, which racked up 15 on Tuesday and has 25 in the first two games of this three-game series. The White Sox have as many hits as strikeouts (103).
While Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 4.29) has gotten roughly the same run support as Kluber with six runs in his three outings, he was uneven until turning in a quality start in his last outing. He limited Detroit to a solo homer and seven other hits in eight innings before leaving without a decision in Chicago's 2-1 defeat Friday.
Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn went 2 for 2 with a two-run pinch-hit single in the sixth in Tuesday's win, continuing his solid hitting on the South Side. He is a .328 lifetime hitter at Chicago, including .412 (21 for 51) with three homers and 20 RBIs in his last 15 games there.
"I couldn't tell you. I wish I knew," Rayburn told MLB's official website. "But I see the ball pretty good here. The ballpark's definitely been good to me and hopefully it continues."
Samardzija, who will be making his first appearance versus Cleveland, had been reached for nine runs and 14 hits in 13 innings over his first two starts.