Kluber’s performance in Sunday’s 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles was mixed, allowing two runs on four hits (one homer) while striking out five and walking three in a 3.2 IP start.
“I just didn’t think I did a good enough job of making adjustments to consistently execute quality pitches,” said Kluber, who threw 78 pitches (46 strikes). “There was some good sprinkled in there. But like I said, I would expect myself to be able to make adjustments better than I did to kind of reel it in.”
After a leadoff walk in the first inning, Kluber struck out the next three batters but surrendered a first-pitch solo shot to Austin Hays that started the second. Kluber subsequently issued a walk before getting a strikeout double play on the runner at second and then fanned former Yankees prospect Jorge Mateo to end the frame.
Following a scoreless third inning, the fourth saw Kluber run into trouble. He got Hays out, but the Orioles pieced together a pair of hits, scratching a run across on a Mateo sacrifice fly to narrow the Yankees’ 4-2 lead.
Kluber hit a batter in the next plate appearance and LHP Joely Rodriguez relieved him, getting a strikeout to end the frame. The Yankees’ loss was a direct result of LHP Andrew Heaney‘s four-run seventh-inning, squandering a 7-4 lead entering the frame, but Kluber was unable to get through four or five strong.
“Just struggled with the fastball command,” manager Aaron Boone said of Kluber. “I thought stuff, again — had some swing-and-miss stuff again, especially with the secondary stuff. I think part of it was a wet, sloppy day — so whether footing, a grip on the ball and things like that I think made it tough command on his fastball and that’s where he struggled a little bit, had some walks, had some misses that were off. Stuff wise, fine, though. He’s just got to dial in the fastball command now.”
Last Monday, Aug. 30, Kluber allowed five runs on five hits — including a grand slam — in a four-inning start, striking out six while walking two and throwing 68 pitches (43 strikes) as the Yankees fell 8-7 at the Los Angeles Angels. As the Yankees (78-58) — who clearly have other issues — continue to push for a postseason spot, with their AL Wild Card lead just a half game ahead of the Boston Red Sox, they need more from Kluber.
“I think, like last time, I said that I think there was flashes where I executed pitches,” said Kluber. “I think all the movement on the pitches, the profile’s of ’em, are there. It’s just a matter of I’ve got to do a better job of consistently kind of harnessing that, to execute ’em to where we want ’em to be.”