This might sound crazy, but Corey Kluber’s performance on Friday night had the feel of a Madison Bumgarner postseason appearance.
Kluber’s a great pitcher, who doesn’t get his due often enough. He’s not very vocal, and maintains his composure.
Above all else: he attacks hitters.
Kluber shut out a lineup over seven innings that led all of baseball in runs -- and was only blanked six times all season.
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That’s coming off 10 days rest after nursing a quad injury that he said isn’t an issue anymore.
“I didn’t take any precautions,” Kluber said when asked about handling his quad entering Friday. “I didn’t have any concerns on it coming into today.”
Kluber gives off the vibe that he’d pitch with a bum right arm in the postseason if necessary.
In fact, he probably just rubbed some dirt on his leg and said he was fine.
“Outwardly you never see anything,” Terry Francona said on his ace. “There’s a fire in there though that burns a lot. He can’t be that good without it, but he won’t let anybody know it -- which I think is great. But he competes like crazy though.”
Not only was his mental approach impressive, but his physical approach to Red Sox hitters was also immaculate.
He froze Hanley Ramirez on his front door two-seamer in back-to-back at-bats.
He utilized a perfect high-fastball to breaking ball combo.
And sometimes he just blew guys away, striking out Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts both on four pitches -- all fastballs.
“There’s obviously extra adrenaline stuff, it’s a bigger stage or whatever you want to call it,” Kluber said on handling the spotlight of the playoffs. “But I think that we’ve done a good job this far and I think we’re going to continue to just go play baseball.”
In the end, Kluber showed why Francona could risk burning Andrew Miller in Game 1 -- and what a Cy Young winner should look like in the playoffs.