New York — The Tigers hitters made Corey Kluber feel like it was 2018 all over again.
The two-time Cy Young winner came into the series finale Sunday with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.7 WHIP, a far cry from the pitcher that used to give the Tigers fits when he wore an Indians jersey. You’d never know it watching him dominate on Sunday, as the Yankees swept the Tigers out of Yankee Stadium with a 2-0 win.
He blanked the Tigers for eight innings, allowing just two singles. He struck out 10.
He befuddled the Tigers hitters with his change-up, an 85-mph pitch he threw off a 90-91 mph sinker. He got 13 swings-and-misses and 13 called strikes with it. He also used it to get seven of his 10 strikeouts.
Closer Aroldis Chapman closed it out, punching out two more.
The Tigers, who have lost five straight and 15 of 17, have now struck out 64 times in the last five games.
This sputtering Tigers offense continues to mute some outstanding starting pitching.
Jose Urena was magnificent on Sunday. The Tigers’ right-hander crafted his fourth straight quality start, limiting the Yankees to three hits and a pair of second-inning runs in seven innings. He put down the last 17 hitters he faced, striking out five of the last six, right through the heart of the Yankees order.
His power sinker (94-96 mph) and slider combination carved the Yankees up. He got four swings and misses and 13 called strikes with his sinker, five whiffs and nine called strikes with his slider.
He induced 11 ground-ball outs and 20 ground balls total in his last start in Chicago, and he followed that with eight more groundball outs Sunday. Urena has pitched seven full innings in his last four starts and allowed two earned runs or less in each one.
And the Tigers won just one of those starts.
The damage came in the second on a swinging-bunt single Gio Urshela, a ball that rolled along the third base line and somehow stayed fair, and a two-run double by Kyle Higashioka, a hooking liner that hit off the chalk line in left.
That was it.
That was enough.
The closest the Tigers came to scoring was in the third. Wilson Ramos walked and JaCoby Jones singled. Both moved up on a wild pitch with one out. But Kluber struck out Robbie Grossman and Jeimer Candelario — both with change-ups — to end the threat.
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