Corey Kluber did not come as advertised in his first start in a Boston Red Sox uniform on Opening Day against the Orioles.
The veteran right-hander known for his outstanding control lacked just that Thursday at Fenway Park. He issued four walks in 3 1/3 innings while also surrendering six hits and five runs to get saddled with the loss. Of Kluber’s 80 pitches, 48 were balls.
But Red Sox manager Alex Cora isn’t fretting the severe lack of command the two-time Cy Young Award winner displayed.
“He battled,” Cora told reporters, per team-provided audio. “We got a matchup there that we didn’t like there with the bases loaded (in the fourth inning), so we took him out. But one of those that I’m not worried about Kluber throwing strikes. He’ll be fine.”
The four walks from Kluber were striking, given the fact that he allowed four walks in a single game just once all last season and offered up only a total of 21 bases on balls in 164 innings in 2022.
“I think I said it previously, I’d rather them beat me by earning it and me not just handing them free passes,” Kluber told reporters, per team-provided audio. “I did that more than I would have liked to today. Just got to make some adjustments before the next time and hopefully do better.”
Kluber certainly wasn’t thrilled with his performance, but still appreciated getting to throw in front of the Fenway crowd for the first time wearing the home team uniform.
“It was a great atmosphere,” Kluber said. “It’s the way it’s been every time I’ve pitched here. Guys know that when they come here to play it’s going to be a great atmosphere, the fans are going to be in it and today was no different.”
Kluber’s next start is expected to come against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final game of a six-game homestand the Red Sox are on to begin the season.