CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber pitched six shutout innings and struck out 10 in his first start since May 2 and the Cleveland Indians scored four runs during a strange sixth inning to beat the Oakland Athletics 8-0 on Thursday.
Kluber (4-2) had been sidelined with a strained lower back, an injury that kept Cleveland’s ace sidelined for a month and deprived a struggling rotation of its leader. The Indians came in with the AL’s highest ERA.
However, despite the long layoff, Kluber looked like his dominant self, allowing just two hits and recording his 26th career double-digit strikeout game.
The Indians scored four runs — three unearned — off Jharel Cotton (3-6) in the wild sixth, when the game was momentarily delayed when sprinklers in left field went on automatically.
The A’s made three more errors, raising their major league-leading total to 55. And they struck out 17 times, giving Oakland 93 in the last seven games.
The bizarre sixth inning looked more Little League than major league.
Athletics third baseman Ryon Healy committed two errors in the sixth, which included a bases-loaded walk by Cotton, two force-outs at the plate, a bloop RBI single and a replay challenge by both managers on the same play.
Cleveland scored its third run in the inning when Carlos Santana scored from second on a headfirst dive after Oakland first baseman Yonder Alonso thought the inning had ended with a double play and began walking to the dugout. His throw to the plate was too late to get Santana.
Moments later, the sprinklers went on, adding more slapstick to a comedic inning for Oakland.
Kluber coasted through the first three innings, striking out five straight at one point while plowing through Oakland’s free-swinging lineup.
He worked out of a first-and-third situation in the third by striking out Mark Canha for the second time.
TAKE A BREAK
Indians DH Edwin Encarnacion didn’t play for the first time this season as manager Terry Francona gave the slugger a day off. Encarnacion has been emerging from a slow start, batting .321 with five homers and 10 RBIs in his last 14 games.
Athletics: RHP Jesse Hahn (strained right triceps) could rejoin the rotation next week. He threw 75 pitches in a minor league rehab assignment for Stockton (A) on Wednesday. Hahn has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 24.
Indians: RF Lonnie Chisenhall has progressed well in concussion protocol. Francona said Chisenhall will spend another day “going through a full-team workout” before being evaluated by a doctor on Friday. If there are no setbacks, Chisenhall may rejoin the team on its upcoming road trip to Kansas City and Colorado.
Athletics: Oakland opens a three-game home series with Andrew Triggs facing Washington’s Stephen Strasburg. Triggs went 1-3 with a 3.45 ERA in five May starts.
Indians: Josh Tomlin starts the opener of a three-game series in Kansas City. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in two starts against the Royals this season and has a career 10-4 record against them in 19 starts.
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