8/17/2014 12:20 A.M. ET
Kluber to rest an extra day before final grind
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The easy thing for the Indians to do right now would be to hand the ball to Corey Kluber every five days without exception. Cleveland has decided, however, to use some caution with the leader of its rotation next week.
With an off-day looming on Monday, the Indians have opted to push Kluber's next start back to Thursday in Minnesota, giving the right-hander an extra day of rest. It might be the last chance to take that approach with Kluber, considering the Tribe has 30 games in a row without a break after an off-day on Aug. 25.
"Originally, he wanted to stay on his day, which is really good news," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Saturday. "That means he feels good physically. But I think when [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] talked to him, moving him back a day is not going to affect [anything]. He's not going to get an extra start at the end of the year or anything like that, and this will probably be the last time.
"So I think after thinking about it for a minute, I think [Kluber] felt like that was good. Take the extra day when you can get it, use it to your advantage, because the rest of the way out, I don't really see many opportunities to do that, nor do we want to."
As a result, Cleveland's probable pitchers for the upcoming road series against the Twins will be Trevor Bauer (Tuesday), T.J. House (Wednesday) and Kluber (Thursday).
On Friday night, Kluber logged 7 2/3 innings and struck out 10 batters, limiting the Orioles to one run in Cleveland's 2-1 win in 11 innings. Kluber became the first Indians pitcher in the past 100 seasons to log at least six innings with at least seven strikeouts and no more than one earned run allowed in five consecutive starts.
The last Cleveland pitcher to have five straight starts with at least six innings and no more than one earned run surrendered was Orel Hershiser in 1996.
On the season, Kluber has gone 13-6 with a 2.41 ERA in 26 starts, during which he has piled up 197 strikeouts against 38 walks in 179 1/3 innings. Over his last five starts, he has gone 3-0 with a 0.46 ERA in 39 innings (45 strikeouts and five walks). Kluber is 7-1 with a 1.19 ERA and .181 opponents' average over his last 10 starts, which have included 83 strikeouts, 11 walks and 75 2/3 innings.
"Klubes has been very dominant, and it's fun to watch," Francona said. "You're not going to necessarily go out and have an ERA around 1.00 the whole year, but it's certainly not fluky. What he's doing is real. And, with his ability, and all the things we talk about -- work ethic, aptitude -- as long as he stays healthy, man, there's really not a ceiling."
Bourn back in leadoff spot after coming off DL
CLEVELAND -- Michael Bourn has spent nine seasons in the big leagues, been to a pair of All-Star Games and played in the postseason. Even with all that experience, the Indians center fielder was fighting some nerves on Saturday.
"I'm hoping my jitters won't be going too much," Bourn said with a laugh before the Indians' 6-0 win over the Orioles. "They probably will. I haven't played in five weeks, so you miss it while it's gone. It's just like anything else in life. I'm just excited to be back and playing."
In his first game back following a stint on the disabled list due to a left hamstring injury, Bourn started in his customary spots at leadoff and center field. He went 0-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and a sacrifice bunt.
In the first inning, Bourn led off with a free pass against Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez and later scored in the frame. His bunt in the fifth moved Chris Dickerson from second to third base, setting up an RBI single for Jose Ramirez.
Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Bourn will be eased back into things, but he might play Sunday due to a scheduled off-day coming Monday.
Francona was thrilled to pencil Bourn back into the batting order.
"It's good, because of a couple things," Francona said. "One, it's nice to have Bourny back. But now, you look at our lineup and ... it gives us a little deeper lineup. It doesn't mean you're going to score, but I think we've positioned ourselves where we have a thicker lineup."
Through 66 games with the Indians this season, Bourn has hit .267 with three home runs, nine doubles, seven triples, 21 RBIs, 37 runs scored and seven stolen bases. In a Minor League rehab stint, the outfielder went 2-for-23 at the plate between stops with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.
Bourn shrugged off that poor statistical showing in the Minors.
"I felt OK. Some at-bats, I felt good, some I didn't," Bourn said. "But it's a different atmosphere. It's a different level here. To me, the pitching is different. I don't know how else to put it. I count those at-bats, because you get to see pitches, but other than that, whether I get a hit or not [in a Minor League rehab game] doesn't even matter to me."
Quote to note
"Well, the season's not over. When the season's over, there's plenty of time for that type of talk. He's got a number of starts left, but to this point, he's been just about as good as anybody."
-- Francona, when asked if Kluber is a candidate for the AL Cy Young Award
• Francona admitted that it was tempting to leave Kluber in the game in the eighth inning on Friday, when the pitcher had two outs, a runner on first base and a 1-0 lead. Kluber was at a season-high 116 pitches, though, and he had also thrown nine warmup pitches during an instant-replay delay in the eighth, so Francona felt it best to turn to the bullpen.
"'Tempting' is the right word," Francona said. "But I think it's wrong. I think you have to take into account a lot of things. I feel pretty strongly that, when you get up into that area and you've faced hitters three times and you've really got to dig deep through the middle of the order, [going to the bullpen] is probably the right thing to do."
• In two starts since being optioned back to Triple-A Columbus, starter Zach McAllister has allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits in 13 innings, in which he had eight strikeouts and five walks. Francona noted that McAllister has been sitting down with Clippers pitching coach Tony Arnold after each outing to closely evaluate his performance.
"He's doing a pretty good job," Francona said. "When you're facing Triple-A hitters, you're not always going to pay for mistakes like you might [in the Majors]. ... Regardless of the outcome of the pitch, you want to see if he's executing. He's watching it with Tony. I think it's really beneficial."
• Indians utility man Zach Walters has been fielding grounders at shortstop before games this weekend. Francona said the versatile infielder and corner outfielder will continue to work out at the position, but the manager noted that Walters (mostly a middle infielder in his pro career) currently fits the roster best as a left fielder.
• Columbus third baseman Giovanny Urshela went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in the Clippers' 6-2 win over Toledo on Friday. Heading into Saturday's action, Urshela led Cleveland's Minor League system with 79 RBIs and was tied for third with 17 homers this year.