Indians hurler and reigning AL Cy Young champ Corey Kluber tossed his second career Maddux on Saturday, expending just 98 pitches in his first complete game shutout of the season.
The Angels eked out three hits against Kluber, but were limited to one extra-base hit and only managed to put runners in scoring position once. In the third inning, Eric Young Jr. doubled to left field and advanced on a fly out to position himself at third base. With two outs and runners at the corners, Kluber induced a rally-killing groundout from Shohei Ohtani to end the inning.
For much of the game, there was no touching the right-hander. He needed just five pitches to get through the second inning and made short work of the heart of the order with eight pitches in the ninth. Backed by a three-run lead on Leonys Martin‘s solo home run, Michael Brantley‘s RBI single and a run-scoring passed ball from Francisco Arcia, Kluber finished his night with three hits, a walk and seven strikeouts, boosting his season totals to an AL-leading 14-6 record in 23 starts and 2.63 ERA, 1.2 BB/9 and 8.5 SO/9 across 154 innings.
Prior to Saturday’s gem, only two other pitchers have tossed complete game shutouts with fewer than 100 pitches this season: the Pirates’ Trevor Williams, whose 7-0, 84-pitch feat was helped enormously by a rain-shortened, six-inning game, and the Mariners’ James Paxton, who completed a Maddux in the conventional nine innings with 99 pitches in a 5-0 shutout against the Rays.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.