CLEVELAND (AP) — Corey Kluber was handed a big lead early in the game and the rest was simple.
Kluber became the American League’s first six-game winner and the Cleveland Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 11-2 on Sunday.
The Indians led 9-0 going into the fifth, leading to a stress-free afternoon for the reigning Cy Young Award winner, who gave up two unearned runs in seven innings, scattering eight hits.
“If you have a nine run cushion, obviously you have a bigger margin for error,” Kluber said. “They’ve always been pretty aggressive against me. It can work both ways. You can get some early contact and get some quick outs.”
Kluber (6-2) was backed by four hits from Yan Gomes, including a three-run homer. Jose Ramirez also hit a three-run shot and Michael Brantley had a two-run homer as the Indians had 15 hits.
“It was nice to get him some runs,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He knows what to do with it.”
Kansas City manager Ned Yost knew the big deficit was a bad sign against Kluber, who also won the Cy Young in 2014.
“Yes, he’s that good,” Yost said. “He’s got a tremendous cutter, a real good curveball, and a fastball that starts at a hitter’s hip and just fades right back in over the corner. He’s got excellent command.”
Yankees starter Luis Severino later joined Kluber with six wins.
Gomes hit a fourth-inning home run off Danny Duffy (1-5), doubled in the second and singled in the third and sixth to match his career high for hits.
Ramirez’s homer capped a five-run second inning while Brantley homered in the seventh.
Francisco Lindor extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games with three hits, including an RBI single in the third. Lindor had two homers and two doubles Saturday. Duffy allowed nine runs in 3 1-3 innings. His fortunes were much different than his previous outing when the Royals scored 10 runs in the top of the first. Duffy allowed one run in 5 1-3 innings for his first win of the season.
Duffy, whose ERA jumped from 5.15 to 6.51, gave his performance a harsh critique.
“I just wasn’t making pitches,” he said. “There is nothing else to it. I don’t know what else to say. I have not been a good pitcher this year. There are no excuses. I’ve been letting my team down.”
Gomes fouled out to first baseman Lucas Duda in the seventh, ending his bid for a 5 for 5 afternoon. He admitted getting a fifth hit was on his mind.
“It’s an 11-2 ballgame, so you can take in some of the moment while you’re having your last at-bat,” he said. “I was going to be happy no matter what, I think.”