Kluber throws 3-hitter, Indians beat slumping Angels 6-2
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Corey Kluber had a hefty lead before he even took the Angel Stadium mound, freeing him to go after hitters with confidence.
The result was another superb start for an ace rapidly rediscovering his top form for the Cleveland Indians.
Kluber pitched a three-hitter with eight strikeouts and Jason Kipnis had three hits in the Indians' 6-2 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Mike Napoli doubled home the first run in a four-run first inning for AL Central-leading Cleveland, which has won eight of 10 in June. The Indians led 6-1 in the second inning, and Kluber (6-6) took advantage.
''When you get that big a lead, my goal is to go out there and attack the zone,'' Kluber said after his second complete game of the season and his first career win over the Angels. ''If they're going to beat us, make them swing the bats. That's the goal every time out, but especially when you've got a five-run lead early on in the game.''
Kluber started the game by giving up Yunel Escobar's double off the wall in center field, but Los Angeles' next 17 batters couldn't get a hit off the right-hander. He retired 12 straight between a second-inning walk and Escobar's sixth-inning single, and he retired the Angels' final 11 batters in his ninth career complete game.
''He did exactly what you're supposed to, pounding the zone,'' Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. ''It's nice to let him pitch like that. He rested our bullpen. Those are some pretty big bats over there, especially up the middle (of the order). He did a great job.''
After going 9-16 last season, Kluber has been close to his 2014 Cy Young Award form lately, winning four of his last five starts.
''That season he had was pretty magical,'' Francona said. ''Whether that happens again, a lot of things have to go right. But he's still one heck of a pitcher. Every time we put his name (on the lineup), we feel good.''
The Indians quickly chased Hector Santiago (3-4), who got just four outs in his shortest start of the season.
Escobar had two hits for the Angels (26-35), who lost their fifth straight to drop a season-worst nine games below .500.
Mike Trout went 0 for 4 with an RBI groundout for the Angels, whose struggles continued in the opener of a six-game homestand after a brutal travel schedule. Less than 24 hours after losing their fourth straight game at Yankee Stadium, the Angels took their home field on the opposite coast and swiftly fell behind.
Santiago, who came home from New York a day early, bent over in pain after his 16th pitch, possibly tweaking his hamstring while moving to field a ball. The Angels' training staff kept him in the game, but the Indians battered him for six hits in their next eight plate appearances.
''He had a chance to get out of that first inning and couldn't get that last out,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''Hector has had a little rough patch here for sure.''
Napoli hurt his former team yet again with a run-scoring double before Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez followed with run-scoring hits. Cleveland added another when Escobar botched the throw to first on what should have been the third out.
Santiago was gone after giving up three straight hits, a sacrifice fly and a walk to start the third.
''It's frustrating, for sure,'' said Santiago, an All-Star last season. ''Right now it just seems like it's snowballing and carrying over from start to start. It seems like it's going through everybody. Tonight was just bad. The last five starts have been very frustrating. You try to go out there and be better, and it just seems like it's not happening right now.''
At least the Angels' bullpen was outstanding, with five relievers giving up three hits and facing just one batter over the minimum during 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
Escobar singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch in the sixth, but Kluber didn't allow another baserunner.
Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons is close to returning from a left thumb injury, but it won't happen this weekend, Scioscia said.
Indians: Trevor Bauer (4-2, 3.88 ERA) won both of his career starts against the Angels.
Angels: Matt Shoemaker (3-7, 5.40 ERA) took a hard-luck loss earlier this week. He has 39 strikeouts since issuing his last walk, a franchise record.