Corey Kluber pitched the 11th regular season no-hitter in New York Yankees history on May 19, and it came at the expense of the Texas Rangers. A week later, he landed on the injured list with a strained right shoulder.
It took a little more than three months for Kluber to return, and his first few starts were rocky.
On Friday, Kluber bore some resemblance to the pitcher who was unhittable. The Yankees are hoping a similar version of the two-time Cy Young Award winner appears Wednesday when they host the Rangers in the finale of a three-game series.
The Yankees (85-67) are going for the sweep after cruising to a 7-1 victory Tuesday after sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge homered. New York trails the Toronto Blue Jays by a half-game for the second wild card and are two games behind the Boston Red Sox for the first wild card.
“This year it’s a little different; we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Judge said. “It’s all kind of in our hands, and that’s where you want to be as a competitor and as a professional. You want to be holding the cards and be out there controlling it.”
Kluber (5-3, 3.68 ERA), whom the Yankees signed to a one-year, $11 million deal in January, is 1-0 with a 5.60 ERA in four starts since returning. On Friday, he allowed four hits, struck out four and induced three double plays in six innings of an 8-0 win over the Cleveland Indians.
“He looked like he did when he threw a no-hitter against us,” said Gallo, whom the Yankees obtained from Texas at the deadline. “Not knowing what he’s going to throw in any count, balls moving off the plate every which way.”
Kluber is coming off an outing in which he threw 61 of 95 pitches for strikes. He also threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of 23 hitters.
The right-hander made one start for Texas last season before getting hurt. He is 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers.
Texas (55-96) is 2-7 in its past nine games as it tries to avoid its first 100-loss season since 1973. Rookie Andy Ibanez had three hits Tuesday and is batting .467 (28-for-60) in his past 16 games, but the Rangers are 5-for-58 with runners in scoring position in the past nine games.
“Maybe we’re not as confident as we were going into the road trip,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “Maybe it’s one win tomorrow where we kind of break it out, break open offensively and that kind of gets us going.”
Taylor Hearn (6-5, 4.52) will continue his transition from the bullpen when he makes his 41st appearance and 10th start this season. He is 4-3 with a 5.80 ERA in nine starts, including a 7.16 ERA in his past three outings.
Hearn last pitched Friday in an 8-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox; he allowed career highs of seven runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He also issued three walks, ending a streak of 89 batters without a free pass.
The left-hander is facing the Yankees for the second time. He pitched two scoreless innings in the same game Kluber no-hit Texas.
–Field Level Media
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