Kluber has shortest career start as Cards thump Indians
ST. LOUIS — Matt Carpenter helped the St. Louis Cardinals beat two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in a way no one has before, then he stuck around to make some history of his own.
Carpenter homered twice, matched a career best with five hits and helped chase Kluber in the shortest start of the right-hander’s career in the Cardinals’ 11-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
Carpenter, who also scored a career-best five runs, is the 19th player ever with five hits, including two home runs, and five runs in a game. He’s the first Cardinals player to do it.
“I don’t know, that leaves me kind of speechless,” said Carpenter, who also drove in three. “It’s pretty cool. Wow, there’s been some really good players come through here. You would have figured somebody would have put together a night better than that.”
Kluber (11-4) allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings and has lost two of his past three decisions. He gave up six hits, including homers to Carpenter and Jose Martinez, and walked one on 48 pitches.
Prior to Tuesday, Kluber’s shortest start had been two innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. His previous low this year was a five-inning game on June 15 against Minnesota when he took his third loss of the season.
“He’s human,” manager Terry Francona said. “Don’t think guys go 35 starts without having a bump in the road.”
It was a far cry from his only other appearance against the Cardinals. He struck out a career-best 18 in a 2-0 victory on May 13, 2015.
Carlos Martinez (4-4) settled down after a rough first inning for his first victory since May 2. He had lost three straight decisions over his previous five starts. He went six innings, allowing two runs, six hits and a walk while striking out eight.
St. Louis has won four straight after struggling through a 2-8 stretch. Cleveland entered the series on a seven-game winning streak before dropping the first two of this three-game set.
The Indians used three singles and a walk to take a 2-0 lead in the first but had only three more singles against Martinez and none after the starter was pulled.
Carpenter answered the Indians’ fast start with his 14th home run. It was Carpenter’s third leadoff homer of the year and 18th in his career. He also led off the eighth with his 15th homer, a solo shot, on a 5-for-5 night. The five hits matched a mark he set June 14, 2014 at Kansas City, and he was a triple shy of the cycle.
“I don’t think you wish for a home run not to be a home run, but it would have been cool to do,” he said of the cycle. “It’s something I’ve never done, but I’ll take the home run, too.”
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny made several fielding changes in the late innings to let players get some rest. He said he considered pulling Carpenter but decided the potential cycle meant more than a couple of innings off.
“It was on our mind, but this is special for him and special for our fans,” Matheny said. “When he’s on, it’s impressive to watch his approach and what he can do when he’s got his swing going right.”
Jose Martinez’s 12th home run, a three-run blast to left field, chased Kluber. Kolten Wong added a two-run shot in the third, his sixth of the season.
Tuesday’s game was delayed 1-hour, 26-minutes by rain, marking the second consecutive game between the Indians and Cardinals that was affected by inclement weather. The first pitch Monday was pushed back 1-hour, 21-minutes because of a thunderstorm.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to throw 40 pitches off the mound Wednesday in St. Louis. If all goes well, he could begin his rehab assignment Saturday. Carrasco is currently on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow contusion.
Cardinals: SS Yairo Munoz was pulled after the third inning with a left ankle contusion. He fouled a ball off his leg during his last at-bat before grounding out to short and was replaced by Greg Garcia to start the fourth.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (2-0, 2.45) makes his fourth start of his rookie season. After allowing 18 hits in his first two appearances, he gave up four but struck out nine and blanked the Tigers through seven innings in his last outing.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.50) is coming off his best start of his rookie year. He allowed a season-low one hit and tied a season-high with 13 strikeouts but didn’t figure in the decision in the 2-1 loss at Milwaukee. He’s given up two runs on six hits in his previous 18 1/3 innings over three games.