Corey Kluber sparked the start of the Cleveland Indians' current win streak, and he could be the right guy to keep it going and get them back to .500 for the first time in nearly six weeks.
As Kluber looks to match a career high with his fifth consecutive win Wednesday night, the Indians try for a season-high sixth straight victory and a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in front of new Cleveland fan favorite Johnny Manziel.Kluber (6-3, 3.04 ERA), who won his final five decisions last year, has been victorious in his last two starts. The right-hander stifled Colorado in a 5-2 win Friday, yielding a two-run homer and four other hits while striking out 12 over 7 1/3 innings, as he finished May 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in six starts."He's the same guy every single day whether he pitches good or bad," pitching coach Mikey Callaway told the Indians' website. "There's no peaks or valleys. He's consistent and he does his work probably better than everybody."Tied for the major league lead with 95 strikeouts, Kluber fanned 10 in his only start versus Boston last year as he gave up one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings before the bullpen blew a late lead in Cleveland's 6-5 loss.All three of Kluber's starts this season with 10 or more strikeouts have come at home, where he has 55 in 44 innings over six outings.Manziel will try to precede Kluber with his own strike for the ceremonial first pitch, which -- at worst -- should be better than rapper 50 Cent's highly mocked left-handed toss that sailed about 30 feet outside the strike zone at Citi Field last week. The rookie quarterback should also provide a boost at the gate since the Indians rank last in average home attendance.Cleveland (29-30) has not been .500 since owning an 11-11 mark April 24, but put itself in position after Tuesday night's 5-3 win. Leadoff hitter Michael Bourn again helped stake the Indians to an early lead, scoring in the first inning for the third consecutive game, and had a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh.Bourn, hitting .367 with 14 runs scored in 15 lifetime contests versus Boston, is 8 for 19 with six runs during the five-game winning streak."It can look so daunting when you look too far in advance, but when you take care of what you're supposed to do that day, all of a sudden things can mount in a good way," manager Terry Francona said.Brandon Workman (0-0, 3.24) will make his scheduled start for the Red Sox after appealing his six-game suspension handed down Tuesday for throwing behind Rays third baseman Evan Longoria on Friday. The resulting ejection ended the right-hander's night with two runs and four hits allowed in 5 1/3 innings of Boston's 3-2, 10-inning victory."I really didn't know what to expect," Workman told the team's official website. "I knew beforehand that if you get ejected, automatically you get a fine. I didn't know about a suspension, I was kind of waiting to see."It wasn't intentional, it was raining, the ball slipped out of my hand. They can take that into consideration."Workman, who has never faced Cleveland, has given up five runs and nine hits with six walks in 10 1/3 innings over two starts since joining the rotation.Xander Bogaerts homered for the second straight game and is hitting .467 in his last seven for Boston (27-31)."He's in a good place offensively," manager John Farrell said. "He's balanced, extra base power pretty consistently. He's playing very well."
Xander Bogaerts has hit .394 in at-bats that end on a pitch in the upper third of the zone or higher since the start of May, 170 points higher than the MLB season average. Corey Kluber has allowed the seventh-highest batting average in the AL in those at-bats among qualifiers this season (.302).