The Tigers’ Akil Baddoo breaks his bat on a foul ball against the Yankees’ Corey Kluber during Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium. Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Corey Kluber shook off the cold start to the season.

The veteran right-hander always started slowly, but this April he was watched under a microscope. The two-time Cy Young winner had multiple injuries and missed most of the last two seasons, so the early struggles were magnified into questions about the 35 year old’s ability to still dominate.

Sunday, he left no doubt he can still dominate big league hitters.

Kluber threw eight scoreless innings, striking out 10 as the New York Yankees shut out the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in front of a crowd of 10,021 at Yankee Stadium.

It was the third straight win for the Yankees (14-14), tying a season high. They swept the three-game series with the lowly Tigers (8-21) for just their third series win this season. It also brought them back up to .500 on the season for the first time since they were 5-5 on April 12.

It was also the 100th career win for Kluber. He became the 69th player to reach that milestone within his first 215 games and just the 18th to do it since 1980.

Kluber was not aware of the milestone win until after the game. He was clearly more satisfied with his crisp, efficient outing.

“Good to kind of go out there and execute for the most part from start to finish. I think that’s always the goal, but it’s not always smooth sailing,” Kluber said. “So when you do have, it’s fun to go out there and kind of have that feeling.”

The righty scattered two hits and a walk. The 10 strikeouts were the most he had since Sept. 24, 2018. It was his 47th game with double-digit strikeouts, only behind Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and Jacob deGrom among active pitchers. It was his longest start since Aug. 18, 2018.

It was the second straight start he worked with Kyle Higashioka and they were on the same page right away. Kluber’s changeup was devastating on Sunday, so they decided to ride it all afternoon.

“That’s as good a changeup as he’s flashed and he had it all game,” Aaron Boone said. “Obviously with a lot of lefties and switch hitters in their lineup, it’s something that really played well for him. I thought the depth on it was excellent. The feel for it was excellent. And because really, it probably took him a few innings to really get that feel with the breaking ball and the change up served him really well today.

“I mean that’s about a good of eight outing performances you can have right there,” the Yankees manager said.

Of the 74 strikes Kluber threw Sunday, 13 were swing and misses on his changeup. His previous career high for whiffs on a changeup was seven. He was able to throw it in all counts and use the Tigers’ aggressiveness at the plate against them.

“I think that I’ve gotten decent results with it throughout my career, I haven’t really thrown out a lot whether it be not needing to or maybe not feeling like it was the right spot to,” Kluber said of his changeup. “I just think that when watching hitters right now, the way they’re approaching me, I think that there’s been some opportunities to throw it. And I think that executing it in those situations is probably the most confidence inspiring thing for me.”

Higashioka has now caught three Kluber starts this season and the 35-year-old has a 1.92 ERA with him behind the plate. With Gary Sanchez catching him in three starts, he has a 4.91 ERA.

Boone said before the game that he wasn’t ready to line up Higashioka with Kluber yet, but it has to be tempting.

The Yankees, who have won five of their last six games and eight out of 11, closed a stretch of 13 straight games without a day off building on starting pitching that struggled through April. This is the first turn through the rotation where they’ve got encouraging starts from all five guys.

“It’s been really good. It squares with what we’ve been seeing. It wasn’t necessarily perfect out the gates, but we’re still seeing it from really all the guys behind Gerrit (Cole) now,” Boone said. “I felt like we’re really close to just stringing together some really strong outings, and we’re starting to see it now.”

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tribune Wire

Tags

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.