NEW YORK — Less than a week after the high of a no-hitter, Corey Kluber lasted just three innings against Toronto and came out because of tightness in his previous troubled right shoulder.
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, who appeared revitalized with the New York Yankees when he no-hit Texas last Wednesday, will have an MRI and hopes he was bothered only by fatigue and not something more serious.
“I wouldn’t say alarmed at this point. I wish we knew more,” he said after the Yankees’ 6-2 loss on Tuesday night. “It doesn’t feel at all like what I dealt with last year.”
Coming off a 101-pitch effort against the Rangers, the 35-year-old right-hander’s bid to match Johnny Vander Meer’s feat of consecutive no-hitters was ended by Bo Bichette‘s infield single with one out in the third. Bichette grounded to shortstop and beat Gleyber Torres‘ off-line throw from the left-field grass.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with a home run into the Yankees bullpen in right-center on a flat cutter for a 2-0 lead, his major league-leading 16th home run. Kluber retired Randal Grichuk, then was replaced by Michael King at the start of the fourth.
“Not on any one pitch,” Kluber said. “Kind of from the time I started getting loose for the game out in the outfield, just didn’t really feel like I got the arm going, felt kind of heavy. I don’t really know the best way to describe it, not painful or anything, Tried to throw a few innings in hopes the adrenaline and all that kind of stuff getting going.”
Kluber threw 58 pitches, walked three and struck out five. His fastball velocity dropped from mostly 91-93 mph in the first two innings to 89-91 mph in the third.
After a discussion with the Yankees after the second and again after the third, he came out.
“Be smart and not push it, maybe risk injuring something else,” he said. “A tough pill for me to swallow, kind of feel like a sense of letting your guys down, bailing on your team. … I guess ultimately trying to be smart about it.”‘
Kluber’s 2019 season ended for Cleveland that May 1 when he was hit on the forearm by a comebacker, and his debut for Texas in 2020 lasted just one inning before he tore a muscle in his right shoulder on July 26.
“It doesn’t feel at all like what I dealt with last year,” he said, saying last season he felt specific pain in a spot and this was general fatigue.
“Obviously, he wasn’t as sharp, and there were maybe a handful of pitches where it looked like he came out of his delivery there, and some misfires up,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Kluber dropped to 4-3 with a 3.04 ERA. His early exit rattled catcher Kyle Higashioka, who spent several innings worrying after Kluber left.
“He was a little erratic, which I just chalked up to maybe it was just an inning,” Higashioka said. “Second and third innings, the stuff deteriorated a little bit, and I could tell he was struggling through something.”