Kluber strikes out 13, pitches Indians over Tigers 2-0

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The reigning AL Cy Young winner looked every bit an ace.
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Corey Kluber struck out 13, pitching two-hit ball for eight innings and leading the Cleveland Indians past the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in snow flurries Monday night.

Kluber downplayed his early success when asked to make a comparison to last season.

We’re three starts into it, he said. Try to go from start to start. Things that didn’t feel great today, I’ll work on in-between and go like that as opposed to take a broader view of it.

Andrew Miller pitched the ninth for his first save, getting Miguel Cabrera on a game-ending double play.

Bradley Zimmer hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Francisco Liriano (1-1) as Cleveland’s offense struggled again but used the long ball to win for the second straight day.

I hope best hockey is going to be in the playoffs, Ovechkin said Saturday night. I think the balance on our team right now is pretty good and pretty high. That’s very good thing to go into the playoffs, because in playoffs you never know what’s going to happen. Maybe one shift can change the whole series. I think we’re ready for it.

Few expected the Capitals to win the Metropolitan Division again after losing Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner, Kevin Shattenkirk and Daniel Winnik from last year’s team that won the Presidents’ Trophy for the second consecutive season. Coach Barry Trotz and players miss no opportunity to bring up all the preseason predictions about them being a playoff bubble team.

Of course, when they sat at 11-10-1 just before Thanksgiving, those lower expectations looked accurate. General manager Brian MacLellan insists he was never worried — and his team’s 38-16-6 record the rest of the way was the fourth best in the NHL in that time, behind only Markus Hannikainen Youth jersey Boston, Nashville and Winnipeg.
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