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Corey Kluber pitched grey uniforms Tropicana Field

Corey Kluber pitched grey uniforms Tropicana Field

Corey Kluber needed just 10 pitches to get through the first inning on Friday against the Rays, but things quickly started to go downhill in the second, thanks in part to the defense behind him, as the Yankees fell to Tampa 10-5.

After striking out Brandon Lowe on eight pitches to start the second, Kluber saw Yandy Diaz reach on a throwing error by DJ LeMahieu at third base, which started the gears in motion for the Rays offense. Tampa scored two runs in the inning on a Willy Adames double and a Brett Phillips sac fly, and while both runs were unearned, they changed the outlook of Kluber’s start.

In the third, Kluber looked to be running out of gas, as the Rays stretched out their at-bats and forced the veteran to throw 34 pitches in the inning before manager Aaron Boone pulled him from the game.

Kluber was tagged for five runs (three earned) in just 2.1 innings and 62 pitches, but Boone said after the game that he liked what he saw from the right-hander on the mound.

“I actually thought stuff-wise he was pretty good, maybe ticked up a little bit,” Boone said. “A couple plays not made behind him led to a really long inning there, and obviously once you get up to the mid-30s there, the pitch count in that inning – [Randy] Arozarena hits the ball just out of the reach, almost a double play ball. I think just a couple things didn’t really go his way today, led to really just a tough inning for him.

“I thought stuff-wise, and I have to see it a little bit more, but I thought stuff-wise he was good.”

Kluber, meanwhile, credited the Rays after the game for how they were able to battle against him at the plate.

“I think their offense did a good job of kind of lengthening some at-bats,” Kluber said. “I think there were a few at-bats where I got ahead of guys and just kind of let them back into the count and they fought off some pitches. That part of it was a grind, I guess.”

The 34-year-old pitched 4.0 innings against the Blue Jays in his first start of the season, and while he lasted longer into the game on that occasion, he said that he actually felt better on the mound on Friday, despite the results.

“It’s kind of one of the funny things about baseball. I actually felt better about the way I executed pitches today and the way I felt out there,” said Kluber. “All that you can do as a pitcher, honestly, is try to execute pitches. Once it leaves your hand, you’ve got to flush whatever happens and move on to the next one. Regardless of how good or bad you feel, I think I try to take that approach no matter what, just go out there and move on to the next pitch and execute that one.

“It’s easy to allow yourself to get frustrated,” he added, “But good pitchers are able to flush that stuff and focus back in on the next pitch”