CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber upstaged Sonny Gray’s debut for New York by pitching a three-hitter and leading the Cleveland Indians to a 5-1 win over the sloppy Yankees on Thursday night.
Kluber (9-3) struck out 11 and Cleveland’s ace threw his third complete game this season as the defending AL champions won the opener of a four-game series with a potential playoff opponent, ending their losing streak at three.
For five innings, Gray (6-6) was nearly as good as Kluber, but New York made three errors in the first behind the right-hander, who was acquired at Monday’s trade deadline from Oakland to help the Yankees return to the postseason.
Gray allowed only two hits until the fifth, when Yan Gomes broke an 0-for-13 slide by hitting a two-out, two-run double to put Cleveland up 4-0.
With his latest dominant performance, Kluber joined Hall of Famers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan as the only pitchers to strike out at least eight in 12 consecutive starts. Johnson did it four times in his career and holds the record with 17 straight.
Kluber was locked in from the start and carried a two-hit shutout into the seventh before Gary Sanchez belted his 17th homer, a 427-foot laser shot to center.
Along with containing the Bronx Bombers, Kluber didn’t force Indians manager Terry Francona to go deep into a bullpen missing All-Star reliever Andrew Miller, who is on the disabled list with knee tendinitis.
The Yankees sat struggling slugger Aaron Judge for the series opener. The major league home run leader is batting just .164 (11 of 67) with 29 strikeouts since the All-Star break.
Gray certainly didn’t get any help from his defense in the first, when the Yankees kicked the ball around like Little Leaguers.
First baseman Chase Headley and second baseman Tyler Wade both booted grounders, and after Jose Ramirez hit a one-out RBI single, right fielder Clint Frazier, the former Indians prospect traded away for Miller last season, airmailed a throw to third into the photographer’s pit, allowing Michael Brantley to score.
Yankees: OF Aaron Hicks (strained right oblique) went 1 for 3 with a walk in his second minor league rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hicks has been out since June 26.
Indians: Jason Kipnis, sidelined since before the All-Star break with a strained right hamstring, will play at Triple-A Columbus on Friday. He’ll return to Cleveland for a workout Saturday, and as long as there are no setbacks, he’ll be activated Sunday for the series finale. … Francona said OF Lonnie Chisenhall is still not ready to play in a rehab game. He’s been on the DL with a strained right calf sustained on July 9.
Jaime Garcia makes his debut for New York against Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer on Friday night. Garcia, who began the season with Atlanta, made one start for Minnesota before the Twins traded him to the Yankees on July 29. The 31-year-old lefty is 5-7 with a 4.29 ERA in 19 starts. Bauer worked a season-high eight innings on July 27 against the Los Angeles Angels.