MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Corey Kluber struck out a career-high 14 hitters for the second straight start and the Cleveland Indians didn’t lose any ground in the playoff chase Sunday with a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley each had three hits for the Indians, who have won five of six.
Cleveland began the day 3 1-2 games behind Kansas City for the second Wild Card spot, and is home to the Royals for three-plus games beginning Monday. In addition to Monday’s regularly scheduled game, the teams must complete the Aug. 31 game in Kansas City that was suspended in the middle of the 10th inning due to rain with Cleveland up 4-2.
Chris Herrmann and Danny Santana drove in the Minnesota runs.
The chance to score was rare against Kluber (17-9), who allowed seven hits in eight innings to win his fourth straight start.
Kluber, who set his career high by striking out 14 Astros in seven innings Tuesday, struck out at least two batters in each of the first six innings Sunday — and 13 straight innings overall. The major league leader with 258 strikeouts, Kluber now has 10 outings of at least 10 strikeouts this season, the most for Cleveland since Sam McDowell in 1970.
The back-to-back 14-strikeout performances by Kluber are the first in baseball since Randy Johnson did it for Arizona on Aug. 15 and 20, 2004.
A trio of Twins miscues helped give the Indians a 5-1 lead in the fifth.
With runners on first and second, Brantley hit a potential inning-ending double play ball to second baseman Brian Dozier. His throw to shortstop Danny Santana at second was off the mark for an error and Santana’s relay to first ended up the Twins dugout for another error, allowing Bourn to score. Jose Ramirez scored on a balk by Anthony Swarzak (3-2) before Brantley scored on a sacrifice fly.
Making his second straight start in place of the injured Tommy Milone, Swarzak allowed five runs — three earned — 4 1-3 innings.
Down 1-0 in the third, Ramirez singled home a run and Brantley doubled in another for a 2-1 Cleveland lead.
RECORD NUMBER OF Ks
Cleveland pitchers have struck out 1,391 hitters this year, breaking the mark of 1,379 set last season.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis was the team’s designated hitter Sunday — batting a season-low seventh in the order — after missing two games with a sore right hamstring.
Twins: Team trainers said SS Eduardo Escobar, out since jamming his right shoulder last Tuesday, was available to pinch run, but manager Ron Gardenhire was leery of having Escobar sliding. Escobar slides head first. … CF Aaron Hicks missed his second straight game with a stiff back and upset Gardenhire by not reporting to the ballpark until about two hours before game time.
Indians: After the teams finish their Aug. 31 suspended game, Carlos Carrasco (8-5, 2.65) is to start Monday’s full game at home against Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (8-11, 2.42).
Twins: Ricky Nolasco (5-11, 5.34) gets the ball Monday when the Twins open a three-game home series with Arizona. He’s scheduled to face Josh Collmenter (10-8, 3.60).
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