Corey Kluber’s first outing with the Yankees didn’t last as long as he expected, but the veteran right-hander had to be happy with what he showed on his pinstripe debut.
Kluber solved some problems in a 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday in The Bronx and looked in control for most of the day. He allowed just one earned run on five hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked three, and walked away after hitting a home run to start the fifth inning.
For Kluber, this was another step back after missing all but one game last year as a member of the Rangers.
“It was fun to go out again and have the opportunity to compete with the guys,” Kluber said. “I think, in general, I did pitches when I needed them.”
The two-time Cy Young winner threw 74 pitches in his first start since July of last year. Kluber kept the Blue Jays scoreless in the first two innings. He lost control a bit in the third, walked two batters and threw a wild pitch. One of those hitters, Danny Jansen, scored on a pitching error by catcher Gary Sanchez after Kluber struck out Cavan Biggio. Kluber then struck out Bo Bichette to end the inning.
Toronto loaded the bases in the fourth before Kluber got Jansen to roll the shortstop out of the inning.
“I thought Corey threw the ball well,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “He had a couple of pretty easy innings there and then he had to stretch a bit, he had that little stretch there where he lost the zone a little bit. Just the movement in his pitches, the ability to get in and out, I thought he was really good.
“I thought overall it was another good step for him.”
Marcus Semien homered off Kluber to start the fifth inning and Boone hit it. He left the game with the Yankees ahead 3-2, but didn’t make a decision after pitching just four innings.
For Kluber, just being on the mound was a win after a muscle strain in his right shoulder limited to 18 pitches last season with the Rangers. He has only pitched 36 ² / ₃ innings in the past two years, making just seven starts in 2019 with Cleveland while dealing with forearm and oblique injuries.
“You spend a lot of time just rehabbing yourself, whether it’s away from the team when they’re on the road or coming in early and doing things before all the guys are there,” Kluber, who signed a one-year, $ 11 million deal dealing with the Yankees, He said. “You kind of miss that team look.”