Corey Kluber was working on a no-hitter. He settled for one of the greatest pitching performances in American League history.
The Indians starter struck out 18 batters, while giving up just one hit and no walks, in eight innings Wednesday, before Cody Allen pitched the ninth to get the save in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals. Kluber tied the team record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, one set by Bob Feller in 1938. Luis Tiant struck out 19 for Cleveland in 10 innings, during a 1968 game against Minnesota.
Bob Feller's widow, Anne, cut ribbon on new Feller exhibit at Progressive Field on Wed. Then, Anne stayed & watched Kluber pitch like Feller
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 14, 2015
As it was, Kluber tied Randy Johnson’s 1992 major-league record for most strikeouts in eight innings. If he had pitched the ninth (he was pulled after 113 pitches), the “Klubot” would have had a shot at the record for most strikeouts in a game, shared at 20 by Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood.
Kluber also became just the fifth pitcher ever with as many as 18 strikeouts and zero walks in a start. He had a no-hitter going until there were two outs in the seventh inning, at which point St. Louis shortstop Jhonny Peralta hit a ground-ball single.
Kluber becomes just the second player ever to strike out 18 without throwing at least nine innings.
— YCPB (@cantpredictball) May 14, 2015
Besides Kluber, the only other game in history of 18+ strikeouts, 0 walks & no more than one hit: Kerry Wood's 20-K, 0-BB one-hitter in 1998
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) May 14, 2015
Kluber's 18 are most in an AL game since Clemens K'd 18 on Aug. 25, 1998. First overall since Sheets had 18 on May 16, 2004.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 14, 2015
Wow! RT @matthewpouliot: If Kluber is done, it's the highest Game Score (98) in an eight-inning outing since at least 1914 and probably ever
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) May 14, 2015
The 29-year-old Kluber is in just his third full MLB season, but he won the AL Cy Young award last year, after going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 34 starts. However, he had been off to a miserable start this season; before Wednesday, Kluber was 0-5 with a 5.04 ERA.