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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    Ryan O'Hearn and Hunter Dozier homered off Indians closer Cody Allen in the ninth inning Friday to give the Royals a 5-4 win over the Tribe.

    KANSAS CITY - Closer Cody Allen allowed consecutive homers to Ryan O'Hearn and Hunter Dozier in the ninth inning Friday night as Kansas City rallied for a 5-4 win over the Indians at Kauffman Stadium.

    O'Hearn opened the ninth with a first-pitch homer to left field to tie the score. Dozier followed with the game-winner over wall in right.

    "I was actually trying to go up in the strike zone against both those guys, especially the first hitter," said Allen. "He's shown some swing and miss up there and my fastball plays well at the top of the zone.

    "I just flat out go beat twice. I don't know what to tell you. I just got beat. I flat out got beat."

    Allen (4-5, 4.50) suffered the reliever's double-whammy. He took the loss and the blown save. He's 25-for-29 in save chances this season and has allowed a career-high 11 homers in 54 innings.

    "It's been a big grind this year," said Allen, the franchise leader in saves. "It has come in waves. The last few weeks I felt like we've been headed in the right direction, but the last few times out I've been pretty hittable.

    "I just continue to try and make adjustments. If I keep doing this, I'm not going to be pitching in big spots. I've got to make adjustments and start missing bats."

    In the eighth inning Yonder Alonso gave the Indians a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer. It was Alonso's second blast of the game, but it wasn't enough to keep the Indians from losing their third straight.

    Alonso, moments before a flood broke out in right field, hit a leadoff homer in the fourth inning for the Indians' first run of the game. In the eighth, after play had resumed following a 30-minute delay because of a broken water pipe, Alonso did it again for a 4-3 lead.

    When the game was stopped, Alonso's teammates told him he must have broke something with his first home run.

    "That was gnarly," said Alonso. "Oops. I hope I don't get a bill."

    Manager Terry Francona did not play Alonso on Wednesday or Thursday against Boston. Not only did the Red Sox start lefties in each game, but Alonso was in a 13-for-79 skid. Francona felt the rest would do him good and he was right.

    Alonso, who has 22 homers and 74 RBI, hit a 3-1 pitch for his second homer and a 3-2 pitch for his first.

    Tribe starter Mike Clevinger negotiated the flood in right field with no problem, but couldn't not find a way around Salvador Perez. The veteran catcher hit a three-run homer off Clevinger in the first inning. Clevinger went six innings, struck out eight and allowed three runs.

    Perez had one hit in 14 at-bats against Clevinger headed into Friday's game.

    The Indians quickly worked their way back into the game against rookie Brad Keller. Greg Allen singled to start the third. He stole second, took third on a fly ball and scored on Michael Brantley's single.

    After Alonso's leadoff homer in the fourth, Keller retired two straight. Yan Gomes doubled off the left field fence for his first of three hits, but that's when the game was halted as water poured into the Royals bullpen in the right field corner.

    What it means

    The Indians entered Friday night's game still trailing the AL West-leading Astros by four games in the race to host the ALDS in October. The Astros were playing the Angels in Anaheim.

    Oakland, Houston's closest pursuer, defeated the Twins 7-1 at Target Field. They had a four game lead over Seattle for the second wild card spot.

    The pitches

    Keller threw 96 pitches, 60 (63 percent) for strikes. Clevinger threw 105, 64 (61 percent) for strikes.

    Thanks for coming

    The Indians and Royals drew 19,304 to Kauffman Stadium. First pitch was at 8:15 p.m. with a temperature of 88 degrees. The heat index was 96.

    Next

    Corey Kluber (16-6, 2.74) will face the Royals and rookie right-hander Heath Fillmyer (1-1, 4.57) on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The game will be carried by SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS.

    Kluber will be facing the Royals for the third time this season. He went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in those starts. He's 8-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 10 starts against the AL Central this year.

    Fillmyer will be making his eighth start of the season. In his last start, he allowed six runs on seven hits in three innings against the White Sox. Fillmyer threw three scoreless innings of relief against the Tribe on July 4.


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    With less than two weeks left in the season the Lake County Captains have slim post season playoff hopes.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Time is running out, but the Lake County Captains remain in the Midwest League playoff chase, three games back of the final playoff spot going into the final two weekends of the season.

    But after this weekend, only eight games will remain in the season - meaning the Captains not only need to win, but also could use a little help, especially with only three home games left. Lake County has not advanced to the playoffs since the 2014 season.

    Hot bat: Several players over the course of the season have had hot stretches for the Captains. The latest is catcher/infielder Jonathan Laureano, a third round draft pick for the Indians in 2016, who has gone 11-for-34 (.324) over his last 10 games with a home run, six doubles and eight RBI. Laureano, 22, is a native of Puerto Rico. He is hitting .244 overall on the season with nine home runs and 36 RBI.

    Record hunt: It will take a bit of effort and luck, but sizzling 20-year-old Oscar Gonzalez, the Indians No. 20 prospect in the system, needs 21 hits in the Captains' final 10 games to tie the team's record for hits in a season, 156, set in 2004. Gonzalez has been on a late-season surge, hitting .349 over his last 10 games with 15 hits. His average is now up to .292 on the season. Will Benson is also closing in on a record, now eight walks shy of the 82 free passes on the season set in 2007.

    Big boppers: The Captains are still No. 1 in the league in home runs as of Thursday, but the margin is now down a bit. Lake County has hit 106 out of the park this season, with Clinton and Cedar Rapids close behind with 103. The problem for the Captains, who have only scored 520 runs this season, is they are a distant 14th in the league in runs scored.


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    In the third preseason game, Cleveland Browns quarterback sent a message to his teammates by playing with a hand injury.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - I would not have put Tyrod Taylor back into the game after he injured his left hand in the first quarter of Thursday night's preseason game.

    The quarterback missed two series, then returned. Browns Coach Hue Jackson said he was cleared by the medical staff.

    This is not a mortal coaching sin. It's a judgment call. Taylor suffered a bruised left hand and a dislocated pinky finger, as Jackson said in his Friday media conference call.

    "It takes 15 seconds to get it (the disclocated pinky) back into place," said Jackson. "He is not going to miss any (practice) time."

    I would not have wanted to risk another injury.

    But I also know why Taylor wanted to play, even in an exhibition game. It's not just to "show toughness," as some in the media have suggested.

    Yes, playing hurt is a part of leadership, especially when it comes to a minor injury. Taylor is extremely serious about his leadership role.

    "The player was excited to get back in the game," said Jackson. "He needed to be out there with them to develop that chemistry."

    A BIG FACTOR

    Taylor also knows the starting offense is stalled. It lacks continuity and rhythm. It hasn't played much in the preseason, and it has players from so many different teams.

    In the first two preseason games, Taylor attempted only 12 passes.

    It's obvious he and star receiver Jarvis Landry are having trouble connecting in games -- although it seemed pretty smooth in practices.

    Because he's in his fourth season as a starter (and eighth in the NFL), Taylor realizes the challenges facing the Browns.

    This is not a pickup game in the parking lot or at the park. Guys just don't get together and play ball.

    Players need to learn each other's tendencies. They have to trust each other on the field.

    Think about it: New quarterbacks. New running backs. New receivers. Several new linemen.

    On offense, only guard Kevin Zeitler, center JC Tretter and tight end David Njoku will be starting at the same spots where they played most of 2017.

    Add new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, and a new system for the players to learn.

    It's a huge challenge to prepare this group for the regular season -- yet try to stay away from major injuries in the preseason.

    WHERE'S THE FLOW?

    Taylor was 11-of-16 passing for only 65 yards. The Browns probably would have scored a touchdown. They had the ball on the Philadelphia 1-yard line, but threw four consecutive passes. All were incomplete.

    Jackson said the Browns were trying to "get some things done" with those goal line passes.

    The Browns' passing game has been iffy near the goal line in many practice sessions. Haley was working on it in the game.

    I would have tried two passes, then run the ball for the TD -- just to build some confidence.

    The starters have scored only two TDs in the preseason. But they haven't played even four full quarters together.

    You can say the Browns offense will improve once Josh Gordon and Antonio Callaway return. That's an upgrade of talent.

    But Gordon hasn't practiced at all this summer. Callaway has missed a lot of practices with minor injuries, and sat out Thursday's game with a groin problem.

    It's more new guys who need to figure out their place in the offense.

    That's why I sounded the alarm about the Browns offense before the third preseason game.

    This game underlined that it's going to be rocky early in the regular season for the offense. That's not gloom and doom, it's common sense.


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    The Hillcats have won 10 out of their last 12 games.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Nolan Jones has been hot at the plate.

    Jones, a 2016 second-round pick by the Tribe, has hit safely in five straight games. Over that span, he's 10-for-17 with four doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and five walks.

    Jones, the Indians No. 2 prospect, has hit safely in nine of his last 12 games, batting .375 (15-40), and has walked 12 times in comparison to nine strikeouts.

    Jones, a third baseman, has an OPS of 1.013 since joining Lynchburg and has collected an RBI in four consecutive games.

    Impressive

    Pitcher Kirk McCarty has been solid through two Carolina League starts. In his debut against the Wood Ducks on Aug. 11, he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six.

    McCarty followed it up with seven innings of one-run baseball in his second start, on Aug. 18 vs. Frederick. McCarty was a seventh-round pick out of Southern Mississippi in 2017. He began the year in Lake County, where he struck out 132 and walked only 34 in 22 starts. 

    Cruising

    The Hillcats have now won 10 of their last 12 games, and have a season-best 7.5 game lead in the Northern Division. At 36-22, the Hillcats have the best second half record in the Carolina League.

    Home team

    In the month of August, the Hillcats are 9-1 at home. It is a big turnaround from the rest of the season, when Lynchburg never had a record better than two games over .500 at home. In July, the club went 7-9 at City Stadium. The team hits 20 points better on the road (.256 to .236 at home).


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    Pitching is key to Akron's playoff hopes and young Triston McKenzie has become the team ace this season.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - It has been a bit of a taffy pull, but the Akron RubberDucks are on the cusp of clinching an Eastern League playoff spot if they can take two of three gems this weekend from Harrisburg.

    It's the start of a season-long, season-ending nine-game homestand, so getting that bit of business out of the way would allow Akron to comfortably set up its pitching rotation to make a run at the EL title.

    With multiple position players getting called to Columbus the last six weeks, pitching will be key, considering the Ducks have scored more than five runs in a game only three times this month so far.

    Ace of Ducks: Going into his Friday night start, one could argue Triston McKenzie has emerged as the team ace since arriving in mid-June after extended spring training. The spindly, 6-foot-5, 165-pound first-round pick in 2016 is 7-3 starting the weekend with a 2.86 ERA. He is coming off a three-hit, eight-strikeout winning effort (6.2-innings), with the eight whiffs being a season high.

    He has pitched 78.2 innings on the season, so his arm should still be fresh for a playoff push. To date he has 76 strikeouts vs. 24 walks and has only given up more than three runs in an outing once over 14 starts. He has pitched 7.0 innings only twice.

    Every bit helps: While the Ducks have been victims to call-ups all season, the efforts of players like catcher Daniel Salters, a third-round draft selection in 2015, can go under-appreciated. He's only hitting .226 on the season with five home runs and 26 RBI. Yet in recent days he has been a reliable bat on a modest five-game hitting streak.


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    Since the start of the 2014 season, no team has had more come from behind victories than the 173 posted by Columbus (37 this season, most in IL).

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Brandon Barnes has stepped up for the Columbus Clippers since Greg Allen was promoted to the Tribe.

    At the plate, Barnes' numbers are .255/.345/.392, with one homer and 9 RBI, as Connor Marabell, Oscar Mercado and Mike Papi have combined to produce .182/.248/.243 with one HR and 8 RBI from the other two outfield spots.

    Along with that slumping trio, Eric Haase is 1-for-21 (13 strikeouts) in his last five games.

    Barnes scored Tuesday, giving him 69 runs on the year. He looks to become the first Clippers player to score and drive in 70 plus runs in the same season since Andy Phillips in 2004.

    Barnes ranks 2nd to Kevin Newman in runs (74, promoted to Pittsburgh on 8/16) and his 76 RBI are tied with Joey Meneses. The last player to lead the IL in both runs and RBI was Shelley Duncan (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) in 2009.

    Solid play

    Eric Stamets dropped down a sac bunt in earlier this week, resulting in the advanced runner scoring to tie the game.

    On the year, Stamets and Drew Maggi have combined to bunt with a runner on base and fewer than two outs 20 times, advancing the runner 15 times (3 hits, 12 SAC, 11 runners scored). Columbus is 21-2 in games in which a run is scored after a successful bunt attempt.

    Rally Clips

    Since the start of the 2014 season, no team has had more come-from-behind victories than the 173 posted by Columbus (37 this season, most in IL) and no team has produced a better winning percentage when trailing than the .352 of the Clippers (no other team has won more than a third of games in which they have trailed over that time period; Scranton/WB ranks second at .324).


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    Check here for the live third-round leaderboard for the PGA Tour's The Northern Trust 2018 on Saturday, Aug. 25, in New Jersey.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Brooks Koepka and Jamie Lovemark were tied for the lead entering the third round of the PGA Tour's The Northern Trust 2018 on Saturday, Aug. 25. The Northern Trust is the first of four events in the FedExCup Playoffs.

    The original field of 125 (119 started at The Northern Trust) will be cut to 100 after The Northern Trust; to 70 after the Dell Technologies Championship; and to 30 after the BMW Championship. The top 30 play in the TOUR Championship.

    Koepka won two majors this season -- the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. He went back-to-back at the U.S. Open.

    PGA TOUR

    THE NORTHERN TRUST
    Site: Paramus, N.J.
    Course: Ridgewood CC. Yardage: 7,385. Par: 71.
    Purse: $9 million. Winner's share: $1,620,000.
    Television: Friday, 2-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday 1-2:45 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, noon-1:45 p.m. (Golf Channel), 2-6 p.m. (CBS).
    Defending champion: Dustin Johnson.
    FedExCup leader: Dustin Johnson.
    Last week: Brandt Snedeker won the Wyndham Championship.
    Notes: This is the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events that conclude with the Tour Championship at East Lake. Points count quadruple for the opening three events, then are reset for the Tour Championship. ... Tiger Woods returns to the FedExCup playoffs for the first time in five years. He starts at No. 20. ... Harris English and Nick Taylor moved into the top 125 to qualify for the playoffs and keep full cards for next year. Seamus Power, who missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship, finished at No. 125. ... Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Bud Cauley and Patrick Rodgers are not playing, leaving the original field at 120 players. ... The top 100 in the FedExCup advance to next week at the TPC Boston. ... U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka will have his first shot at reaching No. 1 in the world. ... The field includes Ian Poulter and Paul Casey, both just outside qualifying for the European Ryder Cup team with two weeks remaining. ... Matt Kuchar won at Ridgewood in 2010. ... The tournament returns next year to Liberty National. After that, it will alternate with the TPC Boston. ... Snedeker moved to No. 30 with his victory at the Wyndham Championship.
    Next week: Dell Technologies Championship.
    Online: www.pgatour.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Check here for the live third-round leaderboard for the LPGA Tour's CP Women's Canadian Open 2018 on Saturday, Aug. 25.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Amy Yang (13-under) led by one shot entering the third round of the LPGA Tour's CP Women's Canadian Open 2018 on Saturday, Aug. 25. Brooke Henderson and Angel Yin were tied for second.

    Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park, Nasa Hataoka, Jin Young Ko, Minjee Lee, Moriya Jutanugarn, Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Georgia Hall were among other notables in the field at the outset.

    LPGA TOUR
    CP WOMEN'S CANADIAN OPEN
    Site: Regina, Saskatchewan.
    Course: Wascana CC. Yardage: 6,675. Par: 71.
    Purse: $2,250,000. Winner's share: $337,500.
    Television: Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 3-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 4-7 p.m. (Golf Channel.
    Defending champion: Sung Hyun Park.
    Race to CME Globe leader: Ariya Jutanugarn.
    Previous week: Sung Hyun Park won the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
    Notes: Sung Hyun Park joined Ariya Jutanugarn as the only three-time winners on the LPGA Tour this year. No one else has won more than once. ... Lydia Ko has won three times at the Women's Canadian Open -- the first one in 2012 when she was 15, making her the youngest winner in LPGA history. ... Americans won three of the opening four events on the LPGA Tour schedule. Since then, the only American to win was Annie Park on June 10 at the ShopRite Classic. ... Sung Hyun Park became the third player to eclipse $1 million in earnings, joining Ariya Jutanugarn and So Yeon Ryu. ... Lexi Thompson returned last week after taking three weeks off for emotional and mental fatigue. She tied for 12th. Thompson has gone more than a year without winning. ... The Women's Canadian Open joined the LPGA schedule in 2001, when Annika Sorenstam won. ... Ariya Jutanugarn, Ryu and Ko share the tournament record score of 265.
    Next week: Cambia Portland Classic.
    Online: www.lpga.com

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)


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    Where would the Cleveland Indians be if they had traded for Jonathan Lucroy?

    ABOUT THE JONATHAN LUCROY TRADE

    OK, it never turned out to be a deal.

    But at the end of July in 2016, the Indians and Milwaukee agreed to this trade:

    TO CLEVELAND: Catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

    TO MILWAUKEE: Francisco Mejia, Greg Allen, Y-Cheng Chang and Shawn Armstrong.

    Lucroy had the right to veto the trade, and he killed it. He later was traded to Texas.

    Instead of booing him when Lucroy comes to town with another team, Tribe fans should cheer him. That deal could have been a major long-range setback for the Tribe.

    Here's what happened with Lucroy:

    1. Maybe, just maybe, Lucroy would have helped the Tribe win the 2016 World Series. If he had helped the Indians win one more game in the 2016 World Series, it would have been worth it.

    2. In 2016, the Tribe front office boldly chased a World Series title. It's why they made trade deadline deals for Andrew Miller and Lucroy. If the Lucroy deal had gone through, they would have dealt eight prospects.

    3. In 2016, Lucroy batted .292 (.885 OPS) with 24 HR and 81 RBI. He would have helped the Indians immediately. But 2016 was last time Lucroy was a productive player.

    4. In 2017, Lucroy batted .265 (.716 OPS) with six HR and 40 RBI, splitting the season between Texas and Colorado.

    5. This season, he's batting .240 (.619 OPS) with two HR and 40 RBI for Oakland. At the age of 32, he is in severe decline as a hitter but still considered a good defensive catcher.

    What about the guys the Indians almost traded?

    1. Shawn Armstrong left the Tribe as a minor league free agent after 2017. He is with Seattle's Class AAA Tacoma team, where the 27-year-old right-hander is 2-5 with a 1.80 ERA and 14 saves. He's not pitched in the big leagues in 2018.

    2. Yu-Cheng Chang is still considered a good prospect. At age 22, he is batting .249 (.725 OPS) with 11 HR and 59 RBI for Class AAA Columbus. He's made only eight errors in 86 games.

    3. Even though Chang is in an organization with three guys capable of playing shortstop already in Cleveland -- Francisco Lindor, Erik Gonzalez and Jose Ramirez -- he has trade value. He also can play some third and second base. Other teams have asked about Chang in deals as recently as July.

    4. Last month, Mejia was traded to San Diego for closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber. That deal settled the Tribe's rocky bullpen. Hand has a 1.26 ERA and is 5-for-5 converting saves for the Tribe.

    5. With relievers Cody Allen and Andrew Miller heading to free agency, Hand could be the main man in the bullpen in 2019. He is signed through the 2021 season. Hand is in his pitching prime at the age of 28.

    6. Cimber has a 6.75 ERA since joining the Tribe. That's in eight innings. Cimber is a 28-year-old rookie with a funky right-handed side-arm delivery. Overall, he is 3-5 with a 3.67 ERA between the Padres and Indians this season. The Indians think he can be effective for them.

    7. Mejia is destined to be the Padres starting catcher. He has been at Class AAA El Paso since traded by the Tribe, where he's batting .318 (.876 OPS) with 4 HR and 13 RBI.

    ABOUT GREG ALLEN

    I don't know if Allen will be the long term answer for the Tribe in center field. He also was part of the Lucroy deal.

    I do know that after Leonys Martin came down with a life-threatening bacterial infection, Allen has taken center field -- at least for the rest of this season.

    In the last 30 games, Allen is batting .302 (.687 OPS) with one HR and eight RBI. He has had some brilliant defensive moments in center, especially in Fenway Park earlier in the week.

    Allen is a 25-year-old switch-hitter. He moved through the minors based on his speed, defense and excellent attitude.

    As a hitter, he still has a lot to prove. In 435 minor league games, Allen batted .277 (.758 OPS) with 18 HR.

    In 194 at bats this season, he has only eight extra base hits. He has drawn eight walks compared to 42 strike outs.

    But Allen is a gifted athlete, a relentless worker. He could turn himself into a good big league player, as his recent play has shown. In some ways, he reminds me of Rajai Davis, who has been a valuable player for 13 big league seasons.

    Martin is an elite defensive center fielder. He plans to play for the Tribe next season. But he is coming back from a serious illness. The Indians believe he will be ready for 2019, as his recent recovery has been very promising.

    Bradley Zimmer was the 2018 opening day center fielder, but he is likely to miss at least part of 2019 as he recovers from major shoulder surgery.

    That's why the Indians not trading Allen has paid off in a major way this season.

    Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red SoxAndrew Miller celebrates with Terry Francona after the Tribe won the 2016 American League pennant.  

    ABOUT ANDREW MILLER

    Since I wrote about the trade that didn't happen (Lucroy), what about the deal that went through on the same day?

    That was July 30, 2016, when the Indians acquired Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees.

    Regardless of how the prospects sent to New York eventually perform, this was a terrific deal for the Indians.

    Miller's epic performance in the 2016 playoffs was a big reason the Indians reached the World Series. He was the MVP of the ALCS vs. Toronto.

    Miller has a 10-6 record and 1.82 ERA in 108 games with the Tribe. The lefty has battled injuries this season, appearing in only 22 innings (3.22 ERA). He is back pitching now, and the Tribe hopes he'll be 100 percent physically for the post-season.

    Here is who the Tribe sent to the Yankees for Miller:

    1. Clint Frazier batted .302 (.953 OPS) with 11 HR and 22 RBI in 235 plate appearances at Class AAA Scranton. But he has been battling concussion symptoms and migraines.  He has been on the concussion list since July 15.

    2. Frazier ran into a wall and suffered a significant concussion in spring training. He recovered, but a few months later, headaches and dizziness have haunted him. He has big-time power if he can stay healthy.

    3. Justus Sheffield is 6-6 with a 2.52 ERA between Class AA and Class AAA. The Yankees recently moved the 22-year-old lefty to the bullpen with the plan of adding him to the big league roster in September. He is considered an elite pitching prospect.

    4. Reliever J.P. Feyereisen is 6-6 with a 3.45 ERA at Class AAA. He is considered a so-so big league prospect.

    5. Ben Heller worked his way to New York briefly in 2017. But he has hurt his elbow and missed all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery.

    ABOUT MELKY CABRERA

    The Tribe front office obviously had an interest in Cabrera, or they would not have signed him as a free agent on April 26.

    Cabrera had no spring training. He got off to a slow start with the Indians (batting .207) and was cut on June 18.

    They brought him back on July 5. It was Terry Francona making the strongest case for the 34-year-old Cabrera. Injuries had ravaged the outfield and the Tribe manager believed Cabrera would eventually hit.

    Francona's faith in Cabrera helped the veteran, who also was playing himself back into shape.

    He entered the weekend batting .270 (.752 OPS) with six HR and 26 RBI in 47 games. Francona has the ability to build up the confidence of many of his players, and Cabrera is the latest.

    Since returning to the Tribe, Cabrera is batting .309 (.888 OPS).

    ABOUT THE TRIBE

    1. It wasn't the playoffs, but the trip to Boston for a four-game series in Fenway Park at least had the feel of the postseason. The Indians were interested in watching the reactions of their younger players. Allen was terrific in center field and productive at the plate.

    2. Rookie Shane Bieber allowed three runs in 6-1/3 innings in what became a 6-3 victory. Bieber is 7-2 with a 4.36 ERA. He's done that after pitching only 50 games in the minors. Yandy Diaz was 3-for-17 in Boston. The Indians are not worried about him. He hit several balls hard that were caught.

    3. The Tribe drafted right-hander Nick Sandlin with the 67th pick and signed the Southern Mississippi product to a $750,000 bonus. That was this summer. He is now with Class AA Akron. No reliever has vaulted through the farm system this fast since Cody Allen.

    4. The 21-year-old Sandlin is 2-0 with a 1.31 ERA on a season pitching in the Arizona Rookie League, Lake County, Lynchburg and now Akron. He's struck out 30 and walked two in 20-2/3 innings.

    5. Could Sandlin become a September promotion? It's possible. He was 10-0 with a 1.06 ERA as a starter in college before being drafted by the Tribe. He's 5-foot-11 and throws sidearm, not physically impressive. He has a 92 mph sinker and tremendous control.

    6. The Indians are very confident Trevor Bauer will be back pitching at some point in September. So far, he is making excellent progress from the stress fracture in his right ankle. He has been on the disabled list since August 14.


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    After five top-10 finishes, Woods is looking like his old self again.

    Tiger Woods is competing in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, a competition he has already won twice in his legendary career. Woods has shown he can compete with the best golfers all year and will show it again with by hoisting the trophy. However, he is starting as the 20th seed and has a lot of stiff competition on the top of the leaderboard. He won't be able to overcome those obstacles. What do you think? 

    PERSPECTIVES

    After five top-10 finishes, Woods is looking like his old self again. He has his swag back and will win the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Here is Brendan Porath of SB Nation with more:

    There's more to play for and more to gain playing "non-major" events, and he's playing well enough to actually win. He is not some ceremonial golfer with no shot who will be bounced after the first or second leg of the Playoffs. He's going probably going to play all four and has a chance to win each one.

    Woods might be performing well, but he's still facing a lot of competition at the top. Dustin Johnson has been consistent all year and Brooks Koepka is playing some of the best golf of his life. Even Phil Mickelson is above Woods right now. 

    Woods didn't inspire a lot of confidence with his first round and it might be par for the course this playoff season. He won't win the FedEx Cup.

    With another slow start, Woods is 5 strokes back in the Northern Trust 

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    Will manager Terry Francona, with Cody Allen struggling and Andrew Miller still working his way back, make Brad Hand the Tribe's fulltime closer?

    KANSAS CITY - Do we take a deep breath here and wait? Or do we start a petition to make Brad Hand the Indians' full-time closer?

    It's easy to make the call right now because emotions are high. Especially after watching Cody Allen do something that hasn't happened to the Indians in nearly 54 years. Friday night Allen entered the ninth inning against Kansas City with a 4-3 lead thanks to a two-run homer by Yonder Alonso in the eighth.

    He was facing the sixth, seventh and eighth hitters on a Royals team that has lost 90 games and trails the Indians by 34 1/2 games in the AL Central. To tilt the table even more toward Allen, the first two hitters he faced - Ryan O'Hearn and Hunter Dozier - were rookies. One more thing, Allen had not allowed a run against Kansas City in 17 previous appearances going back to Sept. 21, 2016.

    But things are rarely as easy as they look.

    O'Hearn hit Allen's first pitch, a 93 mph fastball, into the Indians' bullpen behind the left field fence to tie the score. Dozier's at-bat consisted of two knuckle curveballs and another 93 mph fastball up in the zone. He hit the fastball over the right field wall to give the Royals a 5-4 walk-off win.

    It is the first time the Indians have allowed consecutive homers to lose a game in walk-off fashion since Pete Ward and Moose Skowron of the White Sox did it to them on Sept. 4, 1964. It was the ninth walk-off loss for the Indians this season, which has to be a concern for the powers that be despite a 12-game lead in the division.

    Manager Terry Francona has a lot of bullpen pieces bouncing about. Right now he's using Hand and Allen as his closers depending on matchups. But in Wednesday's 10-4 loss to Red Sox, Allen pitched the eighth inning in a mop up role because they're trying to bring lefty Andrew Miller along slowly so he'll be ready for the postseason.

    The Indians have a picture in their mind about where they want this bullpen to be in late September as they prepare for the ALDS. Somewhere at the back end will be Miller, Allen and Hand, but there are questions.

    Could Allen be going through what departed Bryan Shaw has gone through this year with the Rockies? Allen and Shaw bulled their way through 737 combined appearances for the Indians from 2013-17. They rank first and second in relief appearances in team history, but there has to be a toll for all those appearances.

    Will Miller once again approach the form he showed in 2016 when he dominated the postseason like few other relievers? He's dealt with knee problems the last two seasons and he's still searching for his velocity and command since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 3.

    Perhaps Francona should just give the closer's job to Hand. Allen and Miller are free agents at the end of the season and Hand is signed through 2020 with a club option for 2021. That may settle things down.

    Friday night Hand pitched a scoreless eighth  -- with the help of a head's-up play by shortstop Francisco Lindor -- retiring lefties Alex Gordon and Lucas Duda to hand the ball to Allen in the ninth. Hand has allowed two earned runs in 14 appearances with the Indians.

    After the Indians acquired Hand and Adam Cimber from San Diego on July 19, Francona started using Allen more in a set-up role. It seemed to take some pressure off him and get him back in a groove. But he's allowed runs in his last three appearances and his last two save opportunities have been hard to watch.

    Allen took a 5-3 lead into the ninth on Monday against Boston. He came out the other side with a 5-4 win, but not before facing six batters and grinding through 28 pitches. Things ended much faster on Friday night.

    "I do think Cody has been making progress (at) that point where we started kind of putting him in situations (outside the ninth inning)," said Francona. "I'll sit down and talk to him again because we need him. We can't run from Cody. We need him really bad to win. So we'll visit a little bit."

    Francona and Allen believe one of the problems has been the curveball. It's been inconsistent all year.

    "I think it begins with his breaking ball," said Francona. "When he's able to command that breaking ball, everything seems to fall in place. And I know he hasn't always felt like he has that. And tonight was another night where the first one he threw, he didn't have it. I think that helps his release point so much."

    Allen's first curveball of the night slipped out of his hand and sailed to the backstop with Dozier at the plate.

    "It's (no control of the curve) one of the reasons why those guys were able to sit up there (looking for the fastball up in the zone) and jump ship tonight," said Allen. "Like I said, I've got to go out there and compete. I'll keep doing that and try to move in the right direction and get people out."

    The Indians have an almost insurmountable lead in the division. It has allowed Francona room to experiment with the roster. But perhaps those days are over concerning the closer's role.


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    Gordon is eligible to participate in all football activities beginning today. He'll start with walk-throughs and go from there.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Josh Gordon is officially off the non-football injury list and eligible to participate in all football activities including practices and games, the Browns announced Saturday morning.

    But the Browns, who are working in conjunction with the NFL and Gordon's medical team on his incremental steps back to the playing field, will start out with baby steps.

    He'll begin by participating in walk-throughs, and did so for the first time on Saturday morning.

    "It was a good feeling to have our brother on the sideline and on the practice field with us,'' said linebacker Christian Kirksey. "He just brings that energy back. I was excited to see him.''

    If all goes well in the walk-throughs, Gordon will play Thursday night in the preseason finale in Detroit, and then in the regular season opener against the Steelers on Sept. 9.

    "If there's a chance against Detroit at the end, it would be great,'' Jackson said last week. "If not, my real goal is can we get him up and running by the time we play Pittsburgh? I think that's really important.''

    The Browns don't have to make a roster move, because Gordon was already on the active 90-man roster. He'll be available to the media on Monday.

    Gordon, who returned to the Browns Aug. 18 from his treatment program at the University of Florida, is now in what Jackson calls Phase 2 of his return to the playing field, getting gradually re-acclimated to the team and the new offense.

    "Josh Gordon will be at practice every day, but you are asking if he will be practicing. Probably -- again he is into the second phase of where I want him to be,'' said Jackson said Friday. "He'll definitely be involved in walk-throughs now. How much he does will be in proportion of what I see and where he is."

    Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor said Friday he's excited to have Gordon back, if only just in walk-throughs for a few days.

    "That'll be awesome,'' said Taylor said. "I'm looking forward to getting him back on the field. I know he's excited to come out and show what he can do, not only to his teammates but to the people, to the city. There's a wonderful opportunity ahead of him. We're going need him to be big for us this season, so I'm looking forward to it.''

    Taylor was unable to generate any point in his five series against the Eagles' No. 4 defense from last season, but he should benefit greatly from having both Gordon and Antonio Callaway back on the field, two of his top three wideouts.

    Both were on the sidelines of that game in streetclothes, Gordon because he was on NFI and Callaway with a groin injury. But Callaway will also return to practice this week, Jackson said.

    Gordon returns, vows to put sobriety first

    Having those two on the field will draw some attention away from Jarvis Landry, who's adjusting to playing more on the outside. He caught only 3-of-11 targets against the Eagles, but some were pretty well off the mark.

    The Browns have four more practices before the preseason finale in Detroit. If Gordon is not ready for that game, he's got a little more than two weeks to prepare for the Steelers and get his timing down with Taylor.


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    Nick Bosa and Parris Campbell were named as two of the captains for Ohio State this season.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State named seven captains for the 2018 season on Saturday. Among them are defensive end Nick Bosa and H-back Parris Campbell.

    The other five are linebacker Tuf Borland, receivers Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin, safety Jordan Fuller and offensive lineman Isaiah Prince. Campbell and McLaurin were captains last year as well.

    Bosa's older brother, Joey, was not a captain in his three years at Ohio State.

    Since he is a redshirt sophomore, Borland has potential to be a three-time captain for Ohio State. J.T. Barrett was the first Buckeye to do so.

    Ohio State's season opens on Sept. 1 at home vs. Oregon State. The Buckeyes had nine captains last season.


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    Gordon has a hamstring issue, which will keep him from full practice right away. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Browns receiver Josh Gordon was cleared by the NFL Saturday to participate in practice and games, but his hamstrings didn't get the memo.

    Removed from the non-football injury list Saturday morning and therefore eligible for all football activities, Gordon was idle during the afternoon practice largely because of tightness in his hamstring that occurred while conditioning at the Browns' facility over the past week, a team spokesman said.

    The Browns intended to have Gordon participating only in walk-throughs beginning today to give him a chance to re-acclimate to the team and to the new offense. If all went well with that, he'd graduate to practicing on a limited basis and then full participation. But the hamstring issue has thrown a monkey-wrench into those plans.

    Coach Hue Jackson said Gordon will 'more than likely not" play in Thursday night's preseason finale in Detroit, which Jackson had considered playing him in to get him ready for the opener against Pittsburgh Sept. 9.

    "I don't want to stick him out there if there's a chance we will not have him for the opener,'' he said. "I want to make sure he's ready to go."

    He's still hopeful Gordon will be ready to face the Steelers.

    "Oh, yeah,'' he said. "No doubt.

    He said Gordon tweaked the hammy about two days ago while running at the Browns' facility.

    "I'm not going to put him out there until he's totally ready to go,'' said Jackson. "So hopefully we'll work through that, a little minor setback, but we'll get him out there soon."

    Gordon had been working out with independent trainer Tim Shankle of HomeGrown Worldwide in Gainesville, Fla. while in treatment at the University of Florida over the past month, but it wasn't the same intensity as an NFL training camp.

    "Getting ready for football and getting ready someplace else is two different things,'' said Jackson. "He just tweaked it a little bit, it's not a major pull, so we'll get him back here soon.''

    Gordon's hamstring injury and a nagging groin injury by Antonio Callaway, although he returned to practice today, could have the Browns considering bringing in another receiver. They brought in Dez Bryant for a visit Aug. 16-17 and liked him, but he left without a contract. Profootballtalk.com's Mike Florio reported that the Browns offered him $5 million, which the three-time Pro Bowler felt was not enough. Bryant also turned down a three-year $21 million offer from the Ravens in April.

    If the two sides can agree on a one-year salary, Bryant can still become a Brown.

    During a scene captured on HBO's Hard Knocks, Hue Jackson told Bryant in his office that Bryant was his kind of guy.

    "In order to deliver, I need guys like you,'' he said.

    In the meantime, the Browns will work hard on Gordon's hamstring and try to have him "up and running'' for the Steelers game, Jackson said.

    Gordon participated in the walk-through Saturday morning, but instead of doing individual drills or light training with the other receivers during the afternoon practice, he was off to the side doing calisthenics and riding the exercise bike with the other injured players, including newly-injured David Njoku (ankle) and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (shoulder).

    The decision to remove Gordon from the non-football injury list Saturday and afford him full active status was collaborative on the part of the NFL, the Browns and the NFLPA, league spokesman Brian McCarthy told cleveland.com.

    McCarthy also said that now that Gordon has been cleared, "it's up to the club at this juncture to determine his participation in practice and games.''

    The site of Gordon in the walk-through this morning provided a boost to his teammates. "It was a good feeling to have our brother on the sideline and on the practice field with us,'' said linebacker Christian Kirksey. "He just brings that energy back. I was excited to see him.''

    Free safety Damarious Randall is glad Gordon is on his side now.

    "It's very exciting because it just opens up another dimension for our offense. Once Josh gets going, he is going to demand double teams. You want guys that are going to demand two guys. So now it makes it a bit easier for the quarterback, the running game, you name it. I'm just looking forward to seeing him out there on the field catching passes."


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    Chugunov will have two years of eligibility with the Buckeyes after coming over from West Virginia. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State has bolstered its quarterback depth with the addition of West Virginia graduate transfer Chris Chugunov.

    The Skillman, New Jersey native was officially added to the roster on Saturday. Chugunov will have two years of eligibility remaining. It's unclear if he'll be on scholarship this year with Ohio State already at the limit of 85 scholarships. A team spokesperson could not confirm if Chugunov was on scholarship.

    He'll be added to a quarterback room that includes scholarship players Dwayne Haskins, Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin, as well as walk-ons Kory Curtis and Danny Vanatsky.

    None of those players have ever started a game in college. Chugunov has. He started the last two games of the season last year for West Virginia, both losses, following an injury to starter Will Grier. For the season, Chugunov completed 43-of-90 passes for 526 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

    Chugunov (6-foot-1, 203 pounds) appeared in 10 games in three seasons with the Mountaineers.

    He will pursue a master's degree in sports management.


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    Corey Kluber, following the Indians' stunning loss to the Royals on Friday night, will try to get things pointed in the right direction Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium.

    KANSAS CITY -- Here are the starting lineups for tonight's game between the Indians and Royals at Kauffman Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.

    INDIANS

    SS Francisco Lindor.

    LF Michael Brantley.

    3B Jose Ramirez.

    DH Edwin Encarnacion.

    1B Yonder Alonso.

    RF Melky Cabrera.

    2B Jason Kipnis.

    C Yan Gomes.

    CF Greg Allen.

    RHP Corey Kluber, 16-6, 2.74.

    ROYALS

    CF Whit Merrifield.

    LF Alex Gordon.

    C Salvador Perez.

    DH Lucas Duda.

    RF Jorge Bonifacio.

    1B Ryan O'Hearn.

    3B Hunter Dozier.

    2B Rosell Herrera.

    SS Adalberto Mondesi.

    RHP Heath Fillmyer, 1-1, 4.57.

    UMPIRES

    H Stu Scheurwater.

    1B Gary Cederstrom, crew chief.

    2B Eric Cooper.

    3B Ramon DeJesus.


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    Gordon is able to participate in practices and games, but he's dealing with a hamstring injury at the moment. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Josh Gordon was cleared to return to practice and games on Saturday. That's the good news. The bad news: he's dealing with a hamstring injury that appears likely to keep him out against Detroit on Thursday night.

    Mary Kay Cabot and I talked about Gordon's possible return to action against Pittsburgh. We also talked about Tyrod Taylor, Denzel Ward and Antonio Callaway all practicing on Saturday and Baker Mayfield likely playing against Detroit.


    Get the best Browns news and perspective in your inbox at lunch time every weekday. Sign up for our Browns newsletter.


    Go inside the Browns every week with cleveland.com's Orange and Brown Podcast, featuring Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe. Listen and subscribe here.


    Want more Browns? Subscribe to our Browns YouTube channel for interviews, analysis and more.


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    Browns defense could rely heavily on players playing multiple spots on defense. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- Briean Boddy-Calhoun is a man who wears multiple hats. In most games, he would start at nickel. Thursday night against Philadelphia, though, he lined up as the free safety after Damarious Randall was a late scratch.

    "I just have to put a different hat on," Boddy-Calhoun said on Saturday of switching between nickel and safety. "I would just say that it is different. I would not say that it is harder by any stretch. I would just say that it is a different perspective going from playing a man right in front of me to playing the quarterback and just going based off of where he is throwing the ball."

    Boddy-Calhoun is an NFL survivor, an undrafted player who the Browns rescued off the scrap heap just before the start of the 2016 season, so he knows that staying versatile can only help him stick. Plus, he dabbled at safety last season, so it was no surprise to see him take over as the second-team free safety this season.

    He's not the only one, though, on this defensive unit who offers the coaching staff multiple options. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves to talk about how players are required to learn two positions, but the Browns' defense last season was mostly stale. Two linebackers played every snap. Jabrill Peppers spent much of the year lined up in a different area code than the ball. Other than occasionally seeing edge defenders line up inside, there wasn't much spice.

    This version of the defense, however, is shaping up to feature different looks, thanks to players like Boddy-Calhoun and the player ahead of him on the depth chart at free safety.

    "I still consider myself a corner, safety, slot, nickel," Damarious Randall said during training camp. "I don't have a real exact name for the things that I can do."

    Randall actually pointed to Boddy-Calhoun as a similar type of player, a "plug-and-play type of guy."

    "Those guys are like invaluable to the team because you never know when you have to (use them)," Randall said, "because you know you can only dress 46."

    Randall played cornerback in Green Bay before coming over in a trade. A free safety in college, the Browns' front office, heavy on former Packers executives, returned him to that position. That move, in turn, freed up Peppers to play a more natural position, which isn't really a position at all.

    "If you're a down safety, you've got to pretty much be interchangeable with the linebackers, because that's all our down safety is is a hybrid linebacker," Peppers told cleveland.com a few weeks ago when talking about his new role.

    During training camp, there were instances where Peppers lined up in some sort of nickel/outside linebacker gray area while Derrick Kindred lined up at strong safety next to Randall.

    Speaking of linebacker, the Browns have been using five regularly with the first team during preseason games. We've seen the familiar trio of Christian Kirksey, Joe Schobert and Jamie Collins, but newcomer Mychal Kendricks and rookie Genard Avery have mixed in with the first team, too.

    Head coach Hue Jackson had high praise for Avery, in particular, on Saturday.

    "The way (Avery) played the other night, we need him on the field for us," Jackson said.

    Avery and Kendricks are similar downhill attackers, while Schobert, Collins and Kirksey can all win with their athleticism.

    Then there's a player like James Burgess, who gained valuable experience last season playing in place of Collins. He could work into the mix depending on the makeup of the final roster.

    Even on the defensive line, the ability to move ends inside on passing downs, making room for the likes of Avery and Collins on the edge, is an intriguing possibility.

    "The more players you have, the more talented players you have, the more things you can do," Kirksey said.

    Which could look very different than what we saw a season ago.


    Follow me on Twitter: @dan_labbe


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    Go inside the Browns every week with cleveland.com's Orange and Brown Podcast, featuring Mary Kay Cabot and Dan Labbe. Listen and subscribe here.


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    Ward returned to practice on Saturday, two days after leaving the field against the Eagles with a back injury.

    BEREA, Ohio -- Hue Jackson has loved what he's seen so far of No. 4 overall pick Denzel Ward. Problem is, he'd like to see more of him.

    "The thing with him will be durability,'' Jackson said Friday. "He's going to have to be out there on the field competing and playing, because when he's out there, it makes us a better football team."

    Ward, the Macedonia, Ohio native and former Buckeye, returned to practice on Saturday, just two days after leaving Thursday night's 5-0 victory over the Eagles with what appeared to be a serious back injury.

    After tackling 250-tight end Zach Ertz following a 7-yard catch on the Eagles' first possession, Ward was prone on the field for a few minutes and then walked off gingerly. He underwent an MRI on Friday and was diagnosed with back spasms.

    Jackson said the back flared up "from the way that he was twisted by attempting to make that tackle. We do not think that he will miss much time, if any.''

    That's encouraging for the Browns, because Ward is gearing up for Antonio Brown and the Steelers on Sept. 9.

    What happened at Browns practice Aug. 25

    So far, the No. 4 overall pick been everything the Browns expected in camp when healthy. He's breaking up passes, making tackles and holding his own against starting wideouts. But he missed most of rookie minicamp with a hip flexor and has missed time in training camp with a nagging ankle injury. Now the back spasms.

    "I feel very good about him,'' said Jackson. "Obviously, he has the physical skillset that we want and he's tough. He'll tackle. He'll do all of those things. What he's got to do is be able to make it thought 16 games. Hopefully, we can earn another game and other games after that.''

    The Browns are already down one cornerback right now in Ward's understudy E.J. Gaines, who suffered a sprained knee in practice last week and will be out about three to four weeks. Third-teamer Mike Jordan replaced Ward against the Eagles.

    The good news for the Browns is that Ward didn't miss time at Ohio State with injuries. The spring before his sophomore season in 2016, he suffered a wrist injury that coaches said was significant. But he played through it all that season.

    Returning two days after what looked like it could be some time on the sidelines is another good sign.


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    Corey Kluber, 4-0 in his last five starts before Saturday night, was knocked around by the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

    KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the Indians were still stunned by Friday night's walk-off loss. Or maybe they caught some water-borne disease from the flood that hit Kauffman Stadium on the same night.

    Whatever the reason, they lost their second straight game to the Royals on Saturday night and there was nothing dramatic about it. The AL Central cellar-dwelling Royals put the hammer to the AL Central-leading Indians, 7-1.

    The Indians have lost four straight, tying their longest losing streak of the season. It's their third such skid in 2018.

    The rookie-laden Royals did most of the damage against Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (16-7, 2.91). Kluber was 4-0 in his last five starts and had won five straight starts against the Royals.

    But they stung him early and put him away in the sixth inning. Kluber allowed five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. It was his shortest start and the most earned runs he's allowed since the Pirates scored seven on July 23. Kluber lost to the Pirates after having a lubricant injected into his right knee just before the All-Star break.

    "He was OK," said manager Terry Francona, referring to Kluber. "There were a couple of pitches -- a couple cutters, a couple fastballs -- where he didn't locate and he really paid for it. I thought his breaking ball was a little bit better.

    "He made some mistakes and they jumped on him pretty good when they made them."

    Three rookie pitchers held the Indians to one run and four hits through eight innings. Starter Heath Fillmyer (2-1, 4.21) went six innings for the win. He allowed one run on three hits, while throwing just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes.

    Rookies Tom Hill and Jack Newberry followed him with two scoreless innings. Veteran Jason Hammel pitched the ninth.

    Brad Keller, another rookie pitcher, held the Indians to two runs on six hits in five innings on Friday in a no-decision effort.

    "We looked a little tired," said Francona, when asked about the offense that has been held to five runs in the last three games. "We're going to have to find a way Sunday to show and grind our way through and find a way to win.

    "We have a day off coming Monday. We're just going to have to fight through it."

    The Tribe's only run came on Fillmyer's balk in the second that scored Yonder Alonso. It gave the Indians a 1-0 lead, but it did not last long.

    Whit Merrifield tied it 1-1 with a single in the third. The Royals took a 3-1 lead on a two-run double by Ryan O'Hearn in the fourth. O'Hearn and Hunter Dozier were the rookie walk-off home-run heroes from Friday night's 5-4 victory.

    The Royals knocked Kluber out of the game in the sixth. Lucas Duda homered and Dozier added an RBI single to end Kluber's night. It was just Kluber's second loss in 12 starts against AL Central teams this year. He's 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA in those games.

    When told about Francona's comment that the Indians looked tired, Kluber said, "I think most teams are tired. It's that point in the season. You've got to find ways to push through it -- motivate yourself -- whatever you want to call it. When you have those times when you're dragging a little bit, you almost have to trick yourself where you're not thinking about it."

    What it means

    The Indians, following Saturday's loss, were 5 1/2 games behind the AL West-leading Astros to host the ALDS in October.

    Houston entered its game against the Angels in Anaheim with a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL West over Oakland. The A's cut that to one game with a win over the Twins on Saturday night.

    On Monday the A's travel to Houston to play the Astros in the final regular season series between the two teams. Houston leads the season series, 10-6. The two teams have split their last 10 games head-to-head.

    The pitches

    Kluber threw 88 pitches, 57 (65 percent) for strikes. Fillmyer threw 105 pitches, 60 (57 percent) for strikes.

    Thanks for coming

    The Indians and Royals drew 16,894 to Kauffman Stadium. First pitch was at 6:16 p.m. with a temperature of 91 degrees.

    Next

    Rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (7-2, 4.36) pitches the series finale for the Tribe on Sunday. He'll take on Royals rookie right-hander Jorge Lopez (0-3, 3.99) at 2:15 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.

    Bieber, who beat Boston in his last start, will be facing the Royals for the second time. He beat them on July at Kauffman Stadium. Bieber is 3-0 with a 4.14 ERA on the road.

    The Royals acquired Lopez from the Brewers as part of the Mike Moustakas trade. He lost his last start, 1-0, against the Rays.


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