Jason Giambi played with New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera for seven years and never thought anyone would match Rivera’s unflappable demeanor.
Then he met Indians right-hander Corey Kluber.
“He’s like Mariano — nothing bothers him,” Giambi, the Indians designated hitter on the 60-day disabled list, said before Tuesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field. “I’ve never seen anybody else like Mo. Mo would be like, ‘Oh, I lost a game? Give me another chance, I’ll save the game tomorrow.’ He’s exactly like him.”
Giambi was amazed at how Kluber handled what happened July 24 at Kansas City, when he took a perfect game into the seventh inning and went nine, only to see the Indians lose 2-1 in 14 innings, largely due to outfielder Ryan Raburn’s spiked ball.
“After that game, I could have seen him throwing stuff in the clubhouse. That’s a tough loss,” Giambi said. “He was like, ‘Hey, it’s OK. No big deal. I’ll go get ’em tomorrow.’ Throw a shutout, 85 pitches.”
That’s what Kluber did his next time out against Seattle.
Kluber wasn’t selected for the All-Star Game, but is now being mentioned as a contender for the American League Cy Young Award. In odds released Tuesday by online gaming website Bovada, Kluber was tied for fourth with Oakland’s Sonny Gray at 7/1, behind Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, Chicago’s Chris Sale and Detroit’s Max Scherzer.
In his last nine starts, Kluber has compiled a 1.43 ERA in 69 innings, with nine walks and 69 strikeouts. Former ESPN analyst Peter Gammons noticed that nugget and tweeted it to 438,000 followers.
On Monday against the Reds, Kluber picked up his fifth consecutive winning decision and improved to 12-6 with a 2.55 ERA.
“I signed him a jersey this year and I wrote on there, ‘Thank God I don’t have to hit against you,’?” Giambi said. “You’re starting to see Pedro [Martinez] stuff, [Roger] Clemens. He’s dominating. Righties, lefties, it doesn’t matter. Minimal pitches, too, that’s the amazing part. Most strikeout guys are 120, he’s throwing 85-pitch shutouts. He’s somebody I’d pay to watch.”
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said his peers are taking note of Kluber.
“The peer recognition is one of the biggest things for players,” Kipnis said. “When guys you’ve never faced before start knowing your name, that’s a pretty big deal.”
Utility man Mike Aviles said he’s excited every time Kluber takes the mound because “you don’t know what could happen.”
“He might throw a no-no, a perfect game. And he has the demeanor to go about that kind of stuff,” Aviles said. “Four-plus pitches, throws strikes and he can read the hitters’ swings and understands what people are trying to do.”
Aviles said he could tell the way Kluber finished last season, which he ended with five straight winning decisions, that he was “budding into an ace.”
“He’s doing the same thing this year,” Aviles said. “I can tell you right now I would be really surprised if he continues the way he’s continuing and doesn’t win a Cy Young.”
To Aviles, the All-Star snub would make it even better.
“That’s why I would like for him to win,” Aviles said. ‘“I was here, I could have been an All-Star, but I wanted to show you why I should have been.’”
By Marla Ridenour - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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