CINCINNATI -- It was a scene that would be right at home in a baseball comedy.
Indians manager Terry Francona jogged out of the dugout at Fenway Park after Michael Bourn was caught stealing to end the seventh inning in Sunday's 6-5 loss to the Red Sox. Bourn was getting heated while arguing with second-base umpire Tom Hallion and Francona wanted to make sure things stayed under control.
That is when "God Bless America" started to play at the ballpark.
"How about that?" Francona said with a robust laugh on Sunday. "I told Tom Hallion, I said, 'I came out here to yell at you and now I have to honor America with you.' That's exactly what I told him. We ended up all laughing."
Bourn believed he was safe, but admitted Sunday that Hallion got the call right. Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew tagged the speedy center fielder on the back just before he reached second base. Upon being called out, Bourn threw his arms in the air and began an animated argument behind second base.
Francona wanted to make sure the center fielder did not get ejected.
"I got out there because I thought Bourny was yelling at him," Francona said. "I got in the way of Bourny and Bourny goes, 'Tito, I'm not cursing at him.' I said, 'Oh, I know, because Michael Bourn doesn't curse.' Then Bourny goes, 'Yes, I do. Sometimes.' If there had been a tape recorder out there ... it was so funny. It was unbelievable."
While the argument was still going on, Hallion removed his cap and Francona did the same. Francona could still be seen talking to the ump during the first few bars of "God Bless America."
"I said, 'Look at this. Look what you did now,'" said Francona, still laughing. "'I've got 34,000 people here and I have to take my hat off.'"
Kluber settling into regular role in rotation
CINCINNATI -- Corey Kluber tends to keep to himself in the clubhouse and he is a softspoken part of an Indians club that has its share of characters. Kluber's personality seems fitting at the moment, considering he has quietly found a home in Cleveland's rotation.
Aside from one forgettable road start against Detroit, Kluber has been a consistent member of the Tribe's rejuvenated pitching staff. One of the keys to Kluber's success of late has been the right-hander's increasing ability to adjust on the fly.
"In the past, when he was able to make adjustments, it was more start to start," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "So you saw some inconsistencies. Now, it seems like he's doing it in-game, which is really helping. He's a guy that likes information and likes feedback. Now, he's really starting to be able to use it in games."
Consider that rough outing on May 10 in the Motor City.
Kluber allowed eight runs on 11 hits in just 4 2/3 innings, but following the appearance he said he immediately knew what went wrong with his mechanics in the outing. In his three turns since that start, the 27-year-old right-hander has turned in three quality starts, allowing seven earned runs with 23 strikeouts and just one walk over 19 innings.
"I was getting too quick to the plate -- getting jumpy and not staying back," Kluber said of his start against the Tigers. "When I stay back over the rubber, my arm has time to catch up and I get on top of pitches and get that extension and finish instead of getting under the ball. There's a little more angle and a little more life to it."
Overall, Kluber has gone 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA in eight games, including six starts, for the Indians this season. Excluding the outing in Detroit, he has posted a 3.19 ERA with 39 strikeouts against five walks over 36 2/3 innings.
Lately, Kluber's slider has improved, creating a go-to weapon for swings and misses. The righty's slider was especially strong on Sunday, when he piled up a career-high 10 strikeouts and held the Red Sox to one run, one walk and three hits over 6 2/3 innings of a no-decision.
"What we've done is really try to stay away from his cutter as much," Callaway explained. "We just use his cutter to complement his pitches instead of pitching off the cutter. Now, he's pitching off his fastball and his fastball velocity has gone up, and he's gotten his slider back a little bit. A lot of times when you over-use your cutter, it will kind of go into your slider and make it inconsistent."
Kluber said the string of success has helped him gain confidence
"I'm just getting more comfortable up here," Kluber said. "I've gone out there and had some good outings and I'm trying to build off that, and always find something to improve on."
• The past two losses in Boston continued a rough stretch of late for the Indians' typically solid bullpen. Entering Monday, Cleveland's relief corps ranked 29th in the Majors with a 7.67 ERA (25 earned runs in 29 1/3 innings) in the past nine games, dating back to May 18. The six home runs surrendered by Tribe relievers in that time period marked the most in the Majors.
"The last two games were kind of gut-wrenching," Francona said. "But our bullpen has been outstanding and will continue to be. I think we're in better shape than a lot of teams, even when we lose our closer. I've been on teams where you manipulate it to get to certain guys. There's not one guy out there we have to run away from. That's a nice feeling. We'll be all right."
• Indians starter Brett Myers, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 20 with a right elbow injury, has been shut down again after suffering a setback this week. Francona noted that Myers (following three Minor League rehab outings) is scheduled to have his throwing arm re-evaluated on Tuesday in Cleveland.
"His elbow got a little cranky," Francona said. "So he is not going to pitch. He's going to be examined [on Tuesday]. We'll have more information then."
• Monday's game in Cincinnati kicked off consecutive two-game Interleague series with Cleveland's I-71 rivals. The Indians headed into this set with a 42-39 edge on the Reds in the all-time series. Last season, the Indians and Reds played to a 3-3 split in the Showdown of Ohio.
• The Indians stole two bases in Sunday's loss to the Red Sox, giving the Tribe a Major League-leading 31 stolen bases since April 22. Cleveland's 36 thefts on the season were tied for the third-most in the American League, entering Monday.