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CLE@MIN: Kluber fans eight over seven innings

CHICAGO -- Corey Kluber will look to continue a dominant stretch as the Indians hope to inch their way to the playoffs in the midst of 30 games in 30 days.

Kluber picked up just his second loss Thursday against the Twins in his last 11 starts. During that stretch, he's 7-2 with a 1.42 ERA and .187 batting average against.

The right-hander ranks among the top of the American League in almost every category -- third in ERA (2.46), third in strikeouts (205), third in innings pitched (186 1/3 innings), seventh in batting average against (.229), tied for sixth in wins (13) and seventh in WHIP (1.08).

"His consistency has been tremendous and to do that, you have to be good," manager Terry Francona said. "His routines were so solid. So you get to this point in the year, and he's coming up on 200 innings, but it doesn't look like his gas tank is going the wrong way. That's a tribute to his work ethic."

The Tribe will lean heavily on the Cy Young Award candidate Kluber during this final stretch, hoping to replicate their strong finish towards a Wild Card spot last year. Cleveland went 16-4 to finish the season, and 6-0 against the White Sox during that span.

The Indians enter Wednesday 5 1/2 games behind Kansas City in the AL Central. Cleveland is 4 1/2 games in back of Seattle for the second Wild Card spot.

"These guys know, I think from the first day of Spring Training, I kept saying: 'This guy, if his health stays -- because you never know -- there's no reason he couldn't be this pitcher," Francona said of his ace. "I think we all thought that."

White Sox pitcher Hector Noesi went seven innings for the seventh time in 22 starts -- four in the last six -- since becoming a fixture in the White Sox rotation. Their Wednesday starter was claimed off waivers on April 25 after starting the season in Seattle, then moving to Texas and settling in Chicago.

He's embracing his role as a regular starter -- an opportunity not afforded at his previous posts.

"Every day, every hour that's passed, you take more experience than ever," Noesi said.

White Sox: Ventura says standings may hurt Abreu's MVP bid
White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes slugging rookie Jose Abreu has the statistics worthy of an MVP bid, but that the White Sox spot in the standings may hurt his chances.

"He has the numbers to do that, but the teams that lead the division probably get more focus," Ventura said. "But as far as just a player, he has the numbers to do it."

Abreu ranks second in the Majors in home runs (33) and RBI (94), leads in slugging percentage (.598) and ranks ninth in batting average (.308). He's also had hitting streaks of 18 and 21 games while playing a key cog in a resurgent White Sox lineup.

"For where we're at, he's a big piece of [our offense], but they focus more on teams that lead their divison more than anything else," Ventura said.

Chicago sits firmly in fourth place in the AL Central, 13 games out of first and just one game ahead of the last-place Twins.

Indians: Gimenez could play during Sox series
Backup catcher Chris Gimenez could work his way into a game before starter Yan Gomes works his way back from the concussion list, Francona said.

Gimenez was acquired from the Rangers via a waiver trade on Saturday in light of Gomes' injury. Roberto Perez has started for the Indians during Gomes' stead.

"It wouldn't shock me if [Gimenez] works his way into a game somewhere because of his versatility," Francona said. "Having him on the bench is pretty helpful, and he doesn't know our pitchers yet that much, but he could start a game. We'll see."

Gomes sustained the concussion Thursday against the Twins when taking a deflected pitch to the mask. He is eligible be activated Friday, but it's unclear if he'll return immediately.

"He's having a really good day," Francona said of Gomes before Tuesday's series opener. "Even when I saw him in the [hotel] lobby this morning, he looked a lot clearer in his eyes. He's done and will do more today. I hate to say it, because I don't want to be unfair to him, but I'd be surprised if he's not raring to go [Friday], unless he has a setback somewhere."

Worth noting:
• The White Sox only sweep this year came against the Indians May 26-28. Chicago is 6-2 versus Cleveland, which is 26-26 against the AL Central.

• Paul Konerko leads all active players with 48 homers and 177 RBI against the Indians. Comments