Corey Kluber didn’t show much emotion even after pitching a no-hitter in May, so it’s unlikely he was going to show much on Friday night when he made his first career start against Cleveland at Yankee Stadium.
Kluber threw six shutout innings against his former team and left with a 2-0 lead thanks to home runs by Joey Gallo (second inning) and Aaron Judge (fourth). It was Gallo's 36th of the season (11 with the Yankees) and Judge's 35th.
In his fourth start since returning from the injured list (shoulder) on Aug. 30, Kluber allowed four hits, walked one, hit a batter and struck out four. He threw 95 pitches.
The Yankees played four games in Cleveland in late April, and even though Kluber didn’t pitch, he did get to say hello and goodbye to the city in which he once starred, winning two American League Cy Young Awards.
"I think that maybe it would have been different if I would have pitched when we went there in April," Kluber said. "I was the one guy in the rotation that didn't line up to pitch that series. I think, in a way, maybe that got all that stuff out of the way. Being able to go see the old teammates, training staff, strength staff, that kind of thing. I think they’ve had a fair amount of turnover since I was there, too. I don't think it will be much different for me than facing anybody else at this point."
In his first three outings after his three-month IL stint, Kluber didn’t pitch more than four innings in any start and had an 8.49 ERA. He allowed 14 hits and seven walks in 11 2/3 innings but struck out 17.
"I feel like [he’s] close," manager Aaron Boone said before the game. "I feel like the shapes are there, especially with his secondary pitches. I feel like the bite on the breaking ball’s been there. I think it's about really getting to that next level and getting to that Corey Kluber level command-wise with his sinker and cutter. When he's doing that and kind of dictating counts on his terms, then he should start really having success. But I think that's the final step, where that command’s been a little off in these starts. If he can get that going, he should pick up where he left off before the injury."
Clarke Schmidt, who made his season debut in a start against the Mets on Saturday and then was sent down, was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to add length to the bullpen.
Sal Romano was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right index finger sprain suffered when he tried to barehand a line drive on Tuesday.
"Clarke's on his fifth day today," Boone said, "so if we were to get into a situation where we need some length or are up against something early the next couple days, he could certainly serve in that role."