CLEVELAND – A respectable home crowd roared at the sight of Yasiel Puig’s strikeout, mainly because the hotheaded outfielder flicked off a number of fans the night before.
Few people at Progressive Field were cognizant of the historical moment they just witnessed.
Corey Kluber registered his 1,000th strikeout during his 148th career appearance on Wednesday night, becoming the fastest pitcher to achieve such a feat in an Indians uniform.
Who was the previous record holder?
Bob Feller did so through his first 167 games on the hill.
“It is a cool achievement,” said Kluber. “To be mentioned with Bob Feller is very humbling. I think it is probably something I’ll come to appreciate more as time goes on.”
Only seven other major league hurlers can say they have done the same as Kluber before their 150th outing – Kerry Wood (134 games), Tim Lincecum (136 games), Roger Clemens (143 games), Stephen Strasburg (144 games), Dwight Gooden (145 games) and Hideo Nomo (147 games).
Simply put, Kluber is now on a pedestal as one of the best strikeout pitchers the game has ever seen, at least through his sample size of 943.2 innings in the big leagues.
“It would have been cool to do it when we won a game,” Kluber said. “It’s not anything that I’m trying to do, I guess, to strike people out.”
Despite these humbling comments, the 31-year-old right-hander is mercilessly punching out a bevy of opposing hitters, including 10 players from a lethal Dodgers batting order.
Not only did Kluber join elite company, but he also registered a double-digit strikeout total with ease, an incredible act that almost seems routine for the ace of the staff.
“Fine,” said Kluber in judging his outing. “If you’re referring to the strikeouts, yeah they struck out more, but I don’t think I pitched any better.”
Kluber now has 27 double-digit strikeout performances over the course of his seven-year tenure, the second most in the American League and fourth most in baseball dating back to the start of the 2013 campaign. In those pitching clinics of domination, Kluber is 16-0 with a 1.58 ERA in 205 frames of work.
Additionally, the former Stetson University standout became the first and only pitcher in Tribe history to strike out seven-or-more batters in 11 straight starts at Progressive Field, another remarkable streak dating back to August 16, 2016.
Similar to the fans at Progressive Field, Kluber seems unwilling to acknowledge his remarkable achievement thanks to a team-first mentality.
“I’m just trying to keep the team in it,” Kluber said. “I think we’ve probably all come to the conclusion we haven’t played the way we wanted to. It’s not like we’ve taken ourselves out of anything. It’s not the worst thing in the world to get a reminder now and again that you go out and play the right way and good things happen.”
John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.