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    Lake Erie's walleye hatch in the Western Basin could be ranked as the second-largest in history, and the largest in 15 years. The yellow perch also was much larger than normal.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Lake Erie appeared to have solidified its crown as the Walleye Capital of the World this week with news that the walleye hatch in the Western Basin this spring could be ranked as the second-largest in the lake's history, and the largest in 15 years.

    Those were the preliminary findings of an August survey conducted at 40 locations by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. The yellow perch hatch counts also were strong and well above average year numbers, the agency announced.

    The walleye survey report could hardly have come at a better time for the fleet of 650 or so fishing charter boat captains whose businesses have suffered in recent years in the wake of Lake Erie's annual, harmful algal blooms.

    "Oh boy, yes, it's like a gift has fallen from heaven here," said Captain Dave Spangler, skipper of Dr. Bugs Charters out of Oak Harbor, and vice president of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.

    DaveSpangler.JPGCaptain Dave Spangler compared the large walleye hatch this past spring to a gift from heaven. 

    "With the amount of first-year walleye hatching this year, combined with the large walleye classes of 2014 and 2015, this is going to give us a real good look for at least the next 20 years down the road," Spangler said.

    Retired Plain Dealer outdoors writer D'Arcy Egan, who lives in Marblehead, was equally impressed by the survey news.

    "It's a pretty amazing graphic," Egan said. "I never thought I'd see a hatch come close to 2003. No one in our lifetime has ever seen a walleye population of this magnitude in Lake Erie."

    The voluminous walleye hatch apparently was the product of a perfect alignment between weather conditions and microorganisms in the Western Basin, said Eric Weimer, supervisor of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Fishery Research Station in Sandusky.

    Research has shown that long, cold winters often produce large walleye and perch hatches in the spring. Scientists and anglers initially had low expectations after an early warm-up, but that was quickly followed by a sudden cold spell from mid-March into April, which appears to have brought a protracted spawning period, Weimer said.

    The cold early spring likely aligned the production of zooplankton with the walleye hatch, providing an abundance of food for the tiny walleye to feed on, he said.

    WalleyeSurvey.pngThe 2018 walleye hatch in the Western Basin is second only to 2003. 

    "We're going to enjoy the benefits of this year for many years to come," Weimer said. "There's a ton of fish out there."

    Actually, an estimated 40 million walleye are in Lake Erie, which has brought "an embarrassment of wealth" for anglers, and has started talk of raising the daily bag limit of six walleyes from May through February, and a limit of four during the spawning months of March and April. The 2014 hatch accounted for about half of the 1.3 million walleye caught last year. The yellow perch limit is 30.

    The walleye and perch surveys are conducted each August in the western basin using bottom trawls to capture the first-year fingerlings. Fisheries biologists compare the numbers to previous years to estimate the success of the walleye and yellow perch hatches, and to estimate of how many young fish will enter the fishable population two years later.

    This year's survey found 112 walleye per roughly 2-1/2 acres of lake bottom, which was the second-highest to 2003's record numbers, and far above the 20-year average.

    The yellow perch hatch of 511 perch per roughly 2-1/2 acres of lake bottom was well above the 20-year average of 316 perch in that expanse.

    Initial reports from bottom trawl surveys conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in Ontario waters of the western basin showed similar bountiful results for first-year walleye and yellow perch, the Division of Wildlife said.

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    Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer will throw bullpen sessions on Saturday and Tuesday as he progresses toward a possible return.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Trevor Bauer threw a bullpen session Wednesday at Progressive Field and is scheduled to throw again on Saturday, according to Indians manager Terry Francona.

    Bauer, sidelined since Aug. 11 with a stress fracture in his right leg, continues to progress steadily toward a possible return some time this month. Wednesday's bullpen session consisted of about 20-25 pitches, Francona said, and the 27-year-old All-Star is close to beginning a running program.

    "He's been on the Alter-G treadmill at 80 percent," Francona said. "In three more days, he has the go-ahead to go land-based running."

    Meanwhile, Bauer continues to work through a throwing program that he helped design to keep his arm strong and ready to go as soon as he's medically cleared to pitch in games.

    "I would say of all people, his arm will be as ready to go as you can possibly expect," Francona said.

    Saturday's scheduled bullpen session will likely take place on the Progressive Field diamond so that the team can use technology to evaluate Bauer's progress.

    "We can use some of the TrackMan stuff to gauge spin, delivery, all those types of things," Francona said. "On Tuesday, probably same thing. Does he face hitters? We'll see."

    Beyond Tuesday, Francona said Bauer will undergo another MRI scan at some point, but he was not sure as to when that will happen.

    President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told reporters this week the way Bauer has gone through the rehab process, including some of the things he's done with his arm care and arm conditioning, are a little bit different.

    "He's worked really hard to try to position himself to be ready as soon as reasonably possible," Antonetti said.

    Antonetti maintained that it might be a while before the team knows exactly what Bauer will be able to give them, and how his availability will affect the playoff roster.

    "We've got a couple of meetings already planned to continue those conversations among our front office group and coaching staff to try to look at a variety of different scenarios, not only with Trevor, but with other roster considerations for potentially the postseason."

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    The Browns will try to beat one of the savviest QBs in NFL history in Drew Brees. Watch video

    BEREA, Ohio -- The Browns went from one future Hall of Fame quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger last week to another in the Saints' Drew Brees Sunday in the Superdome, one of the most cerebral quarterbacks in NFL history.

    "He's been doing it for a long time, he's very efficient, he's one of, if not the most efficient quarterback in NFL history,'' said linebacker Joe Schobert in the video above. "He knows his offense, he knows exactly what defenses are trying to do and checks it himself and the offense into plays or knows what routes and what receivers are going to be open against certain coverages if he gets a tip and sees the defense and he's very good at reading defenses.

    "I think, for us, the biggest thing is to disrupt his timing, get him off the spot and hopefully have Myles (Garrett) hit him a couple times with sacks and our D-line get after it. I think that's the biggest and easiest way to change his gameplan."

    Brees on Mayfield: 'He can be a lot better than me'

    Brees, 142-107 in the regular season, is coming off a 48-40 loss to the Bucs. Meanwhile, the Browns, who tied the Steelers 21-21, are coming off their six-takeaway, four-sack effort and a monster game by Myles Garrett.

    "Well, he's a smaller target but you know he gets the ball out quick and going against two Hall of Famers back to back is ... it puts a smile on my face because I've grown up watching these guys but also getting an opportunity to hopefully introduce myself to him as well on the field,'' said Garrett.

    "You gotta make sure he can't step up. He has a tendency to set back pretty deep and step up into the pocket and make those throws when he's going deep or sit in the pocket and make those throws quick at different angles. He's a shorter guy so you have to try to bat the ball down, but he's been doing it well for many years so it's a simple game."

    Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who won a Super Bowl in New Orleans after the 2009 season with Brees at the helm, recalled a scene the night before the Super Bowl victory over the Colts, in which Brees earned MVP honors.

    "I was walking through the hotel right before the curfew,'' he said. "I wanted to make sure there were no scraps of paper, stuff left around, gameplans laying around. I come by the quarterback room, and it is 10:55 p.m., and Drew Brees has the video going on up there and has all of the chairs out of the room. He is going through the first 15 [plays] visualizing and stepping through throwing, checking and doing all of these kinds of stuff.

    "I don't think he ever saw me standing there in the dark looking in the door watching him do this at 10:55 p.m. before curfew that night. He outworks everybody. Not only is he an intelligent quarterback, but he outworks everybody. It is amazing how luck follows those people that are more prepared and outwork everybody else. He is very special. He really is."

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    After 15 seasons, Henrik Zetterberg is hanging up the skates. Watch video

    After 15 seasons, Henrik Zetterberg is hanging up the skates. The career-long Red Wing was not medically cleared to play professional hockey, forcing him to retire. After winning the Conn Smythe in 2008 and being part of the Triple Gold Club, some feel he is should be included in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Others feel his career was good, but not great enough to be inducted, no matter how beloved he is. What do you think? 


    From the Conn Smythe shift to the Triple Gold Club, Zetterberg has proven he is worthy of the Hockey Hall of Fame. There is no doubt he is among the greatest Red Wings ever after over 1,000 games with the team and nearly 1,000 points. His leadership is unequaled, and he showed you didn't have to be a high draft pick to be one of the best players on the ice. He deserves to be in the Hall.

    While he has been really good for his career, Zetterberg isn't considered one of the best players ever by many fans. The Hall of Fame honors the greatest players and innovators of hockey. Zetterberg hasn't shown the otherworldly excellence that's required for a Hall of Fame nod. In 15 years, he was only named an All-Star twice. Zetterberg had a great career, but it wasn't Hall of Fame worthy.

    The Tylt is focused on debates and conversations around news, current events and pop culture. We provide our community with the opportunity to share their opinions and vote on topics that matter most to them. We actively engage the community and present meaningful data on the debates and conversations as they progress. The Tylt is a place where your opinion counts, literally. The Tylt is an Advance Local Media, LLC property. Join us on Twitter @TheTylt, on Instagram @TheTylt or on Facebook, we'd love to hear what you have to say.

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    Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson homered in the same game for the 13th time, but Cleveland's late rally fell short in a 5-4 loss to Detroit.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson gave Cleveland Indians fans a glimpse of what manager Terry Francona's reconfigured lineup can do when they hit back-to-back home runs Friday, but Detroit's bullpen held on for a 5-4 Tigers victory at Progressive Field.

    Detroit starter Matthew Boyd (10-12, 4.08) looked unstoppable, striking out seven and carrying a one-hit shutout into the sixth inning. But Encarnacion greeted Boyd with a one-out solo homer to the bleachers in left field on the first pitch he saw to cut Cleveland's 2-0 deficit in half.

    Encarnacion's 31st homer set off a fireworks celebration, and before the smoke cleared, newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson had tied things up with a solo blast of his own.

    Donaldson connected on a 3-0 pitch for a 378-foot moonshot to the home run porch that knotted the score at 2-2. It was his sixth homer of the year and his first since May 5 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Indians at Progressive Field.

    Donaldson said it's been a while since he has had any sort of adrenaline going through his body, so he had to try and slow the game down a bit.

    "I've been pretty excited to be here and play the last couple games," Donaldson said. "To have a little bit of success tonight was nice."

    Francona said it's now just a matter of getting Donaldson some innings. He will rest Saturday and start again on Sunday. 

    "Every time he plays it kind of feels almost like an investment," Francona said. "He's playing the heck out of third, just got to get him his at-bats."

    Cleveland has hit back-to-back home runs seven times this season, but it was the first time that Encarnacion and Donaldson -- Blue Jays teammates in 2015 and 2016 -- have ever gone back-to-back. The duo has homered in the same game 13 times, including 12 with Toronto.

    Four Detroit relievers combined to hold Cleveland's offense down from there. Drew VerHagen, Spencer Turnbull, Joe Jimenez each worked scoreless outings, and Shane Green allowed a pair of runs on Melky Cabrera's sacrifice fly and Jason Kipnis' RBI groundout in the ninth before retiring Francisco Lindor on a fly ball to right for his 29th save.

    Jeimer Candelario's RBI double off Andrew Miller in the seventh put the Tigers in front, 3-2, and a Victor Martinez RBI double gave Detroit a two-run advantage. JaCoby Jones tacked on another insurance run when he raced home from second base to score on a dropped third strike in the eighth.

    The Tigers jumped in front early against Indians starter Josh Tomlin as Candelario sent the third pitch of the game 422 feet to the seats in right center for a 1-0 lead. Tomlin, making his first start since May 15, allowed two runs on five hits, including an RBI double by Jones in the fourth.

    "He was a little over-excited, hadn't started a game in a while," Francona said. "It's a hard way to start: home run and first and second, but he settled down and threw the ball well. He was crisp."

    What it means

    Despite the loss, Cleveland's magic number for clinching the American League Central Division dropped to 1 with Kansas City's comeback win against Minnesota. The Indians can clinch their 10th central division title in franchise history with a win on Saturday.

    The pitches

    Tomlin threw 62 pitches, 44 (71 percent) for strikes. Boyd threw 96 pitches, 58 (60 percent) for strikes.

    Thanks for coming

    The Indians and Tigers drew 26,952 to Progressive Field. First pitch was at 7:10 p.m. with a temperature of 76 degrees.


    The series continues Saturday with a 3:10 p.m. start. Cleveland's Mike Clevinger (11-8, 3.16) will face Tigers righty Michael Fulmer (3-11, 4.56) at 3:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.

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    Cleveland's magic number to clinch the A.L. Central Division title is down to 1 after a Kansas City comeback win against Minnesota.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The magic number is down to 1 for the Cleveland Indians to clinch their 10th American League Central Division crown.

    Salvador Perez clubbed a walk-off grand slam for the Kansas City Royals on Friday to defeat the Minnesota Twins, 8-4. The Royals rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the ninth to down the second-place Twins.

    Cleveland, which lost to Detroit, 5-4, has a 15-game lead on the Twins with 15 games remaining. An Indians win on Saturday will clinch the franchise's 14th postseason appearance and third consecutive division title. 

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    The Indians can clinch the AL Central on Saturday with a win over Detroit, but they have more pressing questions to answer.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Indians have taken an unhurried approach to this entire season. Why should the business of clinching be any different?

    They had a chance to clinch the AL Central on Friday night with the Tigers in town for a three-game series. They needed to beat rebuilding Detroit, something they'd done 12 times in 16 games earlier this season, and have Kansas City beat the Twins at Kauffman Stadium.

    The Indians came close to holding up their end of the bargain, but it wasn't enough. Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson hit consecutive homers in the sixth to tie the Tigers, 2-2. In the ninth, they had the tying run on second base, but Francisco Lindor flied out to right in a 5-4 loss.

    The Royals, however, came from behind to beat the Twins on walk-off grand slam by Salvador Perez, 8-4, to reduce the Indians' magic number to 1.

    The Indians entered Friday night's game knowing that a third straight division title would eventually be theirs. But that was the least of their concerns.

    They have so many questions to answer and so little time to do it. The general belief in the organization is that they could be a much better team at the end of September than they are halfway through the final month of the regular season. If that sounds like a wishful thinking, that's exactly what it is, but that's the only option they have left.

    There is not enough time to get complete answers to all the questions manager Terry Francona and the front office have. But parts of those answers, as they did Friday night, will reveal themselves in the time that remains.

    * Encarnacion and Donaldson, hitting fourth and fifth, look like a dangerous combination. Not only did Donaldson follow Encarnacion with a homer in the sixth, but he started a two-run rally in the ninth with a leadoff single.

    "This guy is one of the best players in the game," said Josh Tomlin, who started Friday night for the first time since May 15. "We were talking in the dugout the other day. We watched him take his first swing in Tampa and you kind of got chills. I'm glad he's on our side after watching that swing as opposing to having to face that swing."

    Donaldson hasn't played regularly in a big-league lineup since May because of a left calf injury so the Indians can't push him too hard. In 22 career games at Progressive Field, Donaldson is hitting .280 (23-for-32) with eight homers, 21 RBI and 20 runs.

    "He just needs some reps," said Francona. "He won't play Saturday, but he'll play Sunday. Every time he plays, it feels like an investment. He's playing the heck out of third. We just have to get him his at-bats."

    * Several baseball people said that one of the good things about trading for Donaldson and putting him at third base is that Jose Ramirez would get a chance to play second, his best position. Ramirez made a play in the second inning against Dawl Lugo that reinforced that thought.

    "He's a baseball player," said Tomlin. "You could put him out in center field, you could probably put him at catcher. He's just a baseball player in every sense of the word. ... You could put a guy like that anywhere on the field and he'd probably be an impact player."

    * On the other hand, Ramirez is still being beset by one breaking ball after another at the plate. He took an 0-for-3 Friday to extend his skid to 16-for-98 (.163).

    * Lefty Andrew Miller, sharp in his first two appearances after coming off the disabled list, couldn't protect a 2-2 tie in the seventh. He allowed an RBI double to Jeimer Candelario and another RBI double by Victor Martinez to put the Tigers back in front, 4-2.

    "Once he got into the inning, I thought his stuff was just as the same as before," said Francona. "He was touching 94 mph with a good breaking ball. I thought he left a couple of pitches up.

    "That's his third outing, I know he doesn't like giving up runs and I know we don't like when anybody gives up runs, but he's going in the right direction. He threw 24 pitches, that's more than he's done. We'll sit him tomorrow and hopefully get him back out there Sunday."

    * New center fielder Jason Kipnis finally got a fly ball hit his way. Nicholas Castellanos hit a line drive to center with two out in the fifth. Kipnis broke in, tapped the breaks and put it in reverse to make the catch.

    Kipnis has made two starts in center since being replaced by Ramirez at second.

    "We're all just trying to get on the same page and play our style of baseball as much as we can," said Tomlin. "Once it clicks, and once we get on a roll, it should be pretty good. But we're not trying to time it out where we way, 'OK, let's get on a roll right now.' It doesn't work that way."

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    Doug and Bill talk about the playoff implications of Ohio State vs. TCU. Watch video

    WACO, Texas -- Ohio State plays TCU on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Yet somehow we ended up on the campus of Baylor.

    That got us thinking about the College Football Playoff, and the way all three of those teams intertwined in 2014 to create a bit of controversy in the first-ever playoff race. You may remember that the Buckeyes put that controversy to bed by winning the national championship.

    But remember before that? When TCU was ranked No. 3 entering conference championship weekend, won by a million points and then fell to No. 6 behind Ohio State and Baylor? It was a bit strange, and in the end the Big 12 got bit by not having a conference championship game, and by an Ohio State team that made an emphatic statement with a 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

    So we were at Baylor. But forget Baylor. They're not part of this conversation now.

    This is about Ohio State and TCU, and what Saturday night's game could mean for this year's playoff race.

    TCU coach Gary Patterson hasn't hid from what a win could mean for his team's chances of making the playoff. Meanwhile Ohio State has lived in worlds where it has won its big non-conference game and missed the playoff, made the playoff without winning that game, and got in another year when maybe it shouldn't have because it beat Oklahoma in 2016.

    This game on Saturday night certainly carries College Football Playoff implications. but for which team would a win matter more? Doug Lesmerises and I discussed that in the video above.

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    The Akron RubberDucks were one game from elimination going into Friday's road playoff contest at New Hampshire.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Even as the Akron RubberDucks were near elimination in the Class AA Eastern League playoffs, outfielder Andrew Calica has had a hot bat.

    In six postseason games, entering Friday night's game at New Hampshire, the 11th round pick (2016) has gone 9-for-23 for a .391 average with one home run and five RBI while only striking out four times.

    For the season Calica has hit .278 with six homers and 49 RBI.

    Akron reached the Eastern League finals, but trailed New Hampshire, 2-0, in the best-of-five series. Game 3 was Friday night in Manchester, New Hampshire.

    Have you seen him?: Still no sign of pitcher Triston McKenzie (7-4, 2.68 ERA) in the post-season for the RubberDucks. While there has been no official word, the Indians have clearly opted to shut him down, shy of possibly Arizona League play later on.

    The top pitching prospect for the Indians was on a pitch count throughout the season after arriving in June from extended spring training to allow a tender forearm to heal. He never pitched more than seven innings in a game all season with the Ducks, and only once more than six innings in five starts in August.

    Still, as McKenzie's numbers indicate, he had a stellar season for Akron, helping the Ducks into the playoffs.

    Over and out: The Lynchburg Hillcats were eliminated from postseason play in a Game 5 series loss to the Potomac Nationals last Sunday. Potomac plays the Buies Creek Astros for the Carolina League Mills Cup Championship.

    Despite the loss, the Hillcats qualified for the postseason for the seventh consecutive year.

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    Check here for the live third-round leaderboard for the LPGA Tour's Evian Championship 2018 on Saturday, Sept. 15, in France.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Amy Olson, Mi Hyang Lee, Mo Martin and Maria Torres were tied for the lead entering the third round of the LPGA Tour's Evian Championship 2018 on Saturday, Sept. 15, in France. Each of the four was 8-under, one shot clear of Carlota Ciganda.

    Brooke Henderson, Minjee Lee, Ariya Jutanugarn, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Jin Young Ko, Anna Nordqvist, Moriya Jutanugarn and Sung Hyun Park were among those in the field at the outset.

    Site: Evian-les-Bains, France.
    Course: Evian Resort GC. Yardage: 6,523. Par: 71.
    Purse: $3,850,000. Winner's share: $577,500.
    Television: Saturday, 6-11:30 a.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 4:30-10 a.m. (Golf Channel).
    Defending champion: Anna Nordqvist.
    Race to CME Globe leader: Ariya Jutanugarn.
    Previous tournament: Marina Alex won the Cambia Portland Classic.
    Notes: This is the fifth and final major on the LPGA Tour schedule. .... The Evian was cut short to 54 holes last year because of weather delays. ... It was the second time it was a 54-hole event since the LPGA Tour gave it major championship status in 2013. ... The tournament began in 1994 as a Ladies European Tour event. ... Inbee Park won the Evian in 2012, the year before it became a major. She has won the other majors on the LPGA Tour schedule. ... Four women have won the four majors this year. If a different player wins Evian, it would be the fourth consecutive year of no multiple major champions in a season. ... The Rolex Annika Major Award will be decided after the Evian, going to the major champion with the best record in the five majors. U.S. Women's Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn has a large lead over Women's PGA champion Sung Hyun Park. If any of the four major champions this year win the Evian, she wins the award. ... The LPGA Tour is off next week before starting its seven-week swing through Asia, which includes the International Crown.
    Next tournament: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Sept. 27-30.

    (Fact box from Associated Press.)

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    What does the big picture look like for the Cleveland Indians when they open the American League playoffs?


    QUESTION: Will the Josh Donaldson move work?

    ANSWER: If Donaldson stays healthy -- and it's a huge if -- it can be a game changer for the Indians in the playoffs. That's why the Tribe traded with Toronto for the 2015 MVP.

    Q: But doesn't disrupting the infield cause other problems?

    A: Let's operate on the assumption that Donaldson's cranky calf muscles cooperate. You put a guy who has averaged 29 HR between 2013-17 at third base. He's a near-Gold Glove fielder. You saw a hint of that on a play in Tampa in his first start.

    Q: Didn't Jose Ramirez want to stay at third base?

    A: My guess is Ramirez wanted to stay there unless switching to second base meant a dramatic upgrade to the infield. Adding Donaldson does that.

    Q: How so?

    A: A healthy Donaldson is at least the equal of Ramirez defensively at third. Ramirez is a much better second baseman than Jason Kipnis.

    Q: But what about Kipnis in center?

    A: Had the Indians not obtained Donaldson and Kipnis remained at second base, they would have had rookie Greg Allen and veteran Rajai Davis in center. Now, they can add Kipnis to that mix.

    Q: Who is the best center fielder for the playoffs?

    A: The Indians are wrestling with that question. Kipnis will receive the first shot to play center field. Allen will replace him in late innings for defense.

    Q: Will Kipnis hit?

    A: Davis and Allen both were hitting exactly .238 heading into the weekend. In 425 at bats, they've combined for three HR and 24 RBI. Allen has shown some life at bat after the All-Star break, even a slumping Kipnis is likely to add more to the lineup. Kipnis entered the weekend batting .228 (.691 OPS) with 15 HR and 64 RBI.

    Q: Explain the big picture.

    A: Donaldson is a slight defensive improvement at third base over Ramirez. And Ramirez is a significant upgrade at second over Kipnis. And Kipnis gives the Tribe a better option in center at the plate. It's hard to know how Allen or Davis will hit in the post-season. Meanwhile, the Indians added Donaldson's bat to the lineup -- and didn't subtract anyone.

    Q: What about the rest of the outfield?

    A: The Indians re-signed Michael Brantley and he stayed healthy. The left fielder is hitting .307 (.831 OPS) with 15 HR and 72 RBI. He hit .308 before the All-Star break, .305 after. He's been remarkably consistent and healthy.

    Q: What about right field?

    A: Since the All-Star break, Melky Cabrera is batting .299 (.849 OPS) with six HR and 21 RBI. The switch hitter will start. The problem is an outfield of Brantley/Kipnis/Cabrera doesn't have much range. The Indians may end up using defensive replacements for Kipnis and Cabrera. That's not ideal.

    Q: What if Donaldson gets hurt?

    A: The Indians are back where they started before the August 31 trade. Donaldson has tremendous motivation to play well. He loves the post-season (.292 career hitter) and is a free agent heading into 2019. This is a chance for him to show other teams he can still be an excellent third baseman.

    Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins - Aug. 30, 2018Mike Clevinger is one of baseball most underrated starters.  


    Mike Clevinger may be the most underrated starting pitcher in the American League.

    In the last two seasons, Clevinger has a 23-14 record with a 3.13 ERA. He's consistent and probably would be at least a No. 2 starter on most teams.

    But with the Indians, Clevinger is behind two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco.

    The Indians are hopeful Bauer will be recovered enough from his ankle injury to pitch in the playoffs.

    But if he's not, a rotation of Kluber, Carrasco and Clevinger remains one of the best top three in baseball. Add in Shane Bieber at No. 4, and you still have to respect the Tribe in the post-season even without Bauer.

    I'm not going to bury you with stats, but lets look at where the Tribe's first four starters rank in the American League in ERA:

    3rd: Bauer, 2.22 ERA.

    6th: Kluber, 2.91 ERA.

    8th: Clevinger, 3.16 ERA.

    11th: Carrasco, 3.43 ERA.

    The Indians have four of the top 11 starters in the American League.

    Overall, Tribe starters have a 3.41 ERA, only Houston (3.21 ERA) is better in the American League.

    And quietly, Clevinger has become a big part of that rotation.


    Lonnie Chisenhall probably has played his last game for the Tribe. He has been out since July 1 with a calf injury. He is a free agent at the end of the season. When Chisenhall did play this season, he hit .321 (.894 OPS) with one HR and nine RBI in 84 at bats. He has played only 47 games since the 2017 All-Star game because of calf muscle injuries.

    In the last few years, the Indians found a valuable role for Chisenhall as a right fielder who played against right-handed pitching. But the calf injuries are a very serious matter. That's why many teams backed away from trading for Donaldson, who was out from the end of May until September with that type of injury.


    1. Ryan Merritt will soon become a minor league free agent. The lefty had a variety of injuries. He had a 3-3 record and 3.76 ERA in limited duty at Class AAA Columbus. His fastball was only in the 84-86 mph range.

    2. The Indians are happy with first-round pick Noah Naylor, who batted .274 (.783 OPS) with a pair of homers in the Arizona Summer League. It was the first time the 18-year-old was away from home. The Indians believe he can become a very good hitter.

    3. The Tribe's second-round pick was Lenny Torres, who had a 1.76 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings in Arizona. He is 17.

    4. Third-round pick Richard Palacios went from two rookie league teams to Class A Lake County this season, batting a combined .361 (.960 OPS) with six HR and 30 RBI. The 21-year-old second baseman came from Towson University.

    5. The Tribe took a pair of pitchers near the top of their draft. Third-rounder Nick Sandlin (Southern Mississippi) had a 2-0 record and 3.00 ERA as he advanced all the way from rookie ball to Class AA Akron. Fourth-round Adam Scott (Wofford) had a 3-1 record and 1.85 ERA as he went from rookie ball to Class A Lynchburg. Both of these relievers could make a huge jump next season.

    6. The Tribe' s 2015 first-rounder, Brady Aiken, was drafted as he was coming off major elbow reconstruction surgery. In 2017, the lefty was 5-13 with a 4.77 ERA in Lake County. The Indians kept him in Goodyear this summer, trying to rebuild his arm strength. He didn't pitch in a game. He's only 22, so his career is not over. But it looks like there is a very long road ahead of him.

    7. Tyler Freeman was the 71st pick in the 2017 draft, and the 19-year-old shortstop batted .352 (.916 OPS) with two HR and 30 RBI for Mahoning Valley.

    8. One more name: Nolan Jones (second round, 2016) batted .283 (.871 OPS) with 16 HR and 66 RBI splitting the year between Class A teams Lake County and Lynchburg. Several scouts have told me the 20-year-old has a chance to be an elite hitter.

    9. On the same day the Indians traded for Leonys Martin, they also made a minor league deal for Oscar Mercado. Acquired from St. Louis, Mercado is a speedy center fielder. Splitting the year between Class AAA Memphis and Columbus, Mercado batted .278 (.738 OPS) with eight HR, 47 RBI and 37 steals. The 23-year-old is a prospect to watch while the Indians look for outfielders next season.

    • Coming Sunday: Terry is Talkin' Browns.

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    Andrew Miller's status is one of the biggest questions facing the Cleveland Indians as they get Ready for October.

    With playoff baseball right around the corner, is taking a look at the biggest issues facing Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians. As the 2018 regular season winds down, the answers to these questions will reveal whether or not the Tribe is Ready for October.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Manager Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians need lefty Andrew Miller to be the 2016 Andrew Miller -- the most feared reliever in the American League -- if the team expects to go anywhere in the 2018 postseason.

    In 10 playoff appearances during the club's 2016 World Series run, Miller struck out 30 of 73 batters faced and limited the opposition to a .233 on-base percentage in 19 1/3 innings. He was nothing short of dominant until his final outing against the Chicago Cubs in Game 7, when fatigue finally caught up with him.

    Francona and the Indians are hoping Miller can return to that form after making it through a regular season beset with injuries and rehab assignments. Miller had shown tremendous promise in his two previous outings before Friday night's loss to Detroit. In Tampa Bay, he worked a pair of scoreless innings, striking out four of the seven batters he faced against the Rays.

    But more important to manager Terry Francona was the way Miller recovered from those outings, and his readiness to pitch again as the Tribe fine tunes its bullpen heading toward October.

    "He's going in the right direction," Francona said of Miller after Friday's loss. Miller allowed a first-pitch RBI double to Jeimer Candelario in the seventh inning and an RBI double to Victor Martinez after inheriting a pair of baserunners from reliever Adam Cimber.

    But Miller worked out of trouble by striking out pinch hitter Mikie Mahtook to end the seventh. He threw 24 pitches and averaged 93.2 mph on his fastball with a slider that ranged from 80.3 to 84.9.

    "Once he got into the inning, I thought his stuff was the same as before, touching 94, good breaking ball," Francona said. "I thought he left a couple pitches up."

    The 2016 ALCS MVP looked like he was back to his old self during the first month of the season. Miller made 12 appearances through April 25 and did not allow an earned run, striking out 19 of the 43 batters he faced.

    But a left hamstring strain forced him to miss two weeks in early May. When he returned, Miller struggled to get batters out. He surrendered seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings across six appearances with just six strikeouts. A return trip to the disabled list followed, this time for inflammation in his right knee.

    He missed nearly 70 days and 58 games before returning Aug. 2. In 10 August outings he posted a 1.86 ERA and limited opponents to a .147 batting average while striking out 10 of the hitters he faced. His unexpected third DL stint in early September took place with just enough time left in the regular season for Indians officials to speculate that he could return and make an impact in the postseason.

    "We talk to him every day," Francona said. "It's funny because you're at the point in the season, you're trying to kinda cut back on some of the guys and you're trying to build him up."

    Francona said he plans to rest Miller on Saturday and have him available to pitch again Sunday as the Indians continue to strengthen him for the playoffs.

    "I think everybody will be happy when we're just playing, but we've got to get through it."

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    Mike Clevinger and the Cleveland Indians face Michael Fulmer and the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Here are the starting lineups for Saturday's game between the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers.

    What: Indians (82-65) vs. Tigers (60-87).
    When: 3:10 p.m.
    Where: Progressive Field.
    Broadcast: SportsTime Ohio, WTAM 1100 AM, WMMS 100.7 FM.


    Francisco Lindor SS
    Michael Brantley LF
    Jose Ramirez 2B
    Edwin Encarnacion DH
    Yonder Alonso 1B
    Melky Cabrera RF
    Yandy Diaz 3B
    Jason Kipnis CF
    Roberto Perez C

    Mike Clevinger (11-8, 3.16)


    Jeimer Candelario 3B
    Christin Stewart LF
    Nicholas Castellanos RF
    Victor Martinez DH
    Jim Adduci 1B
    James McCann C
    Jacoby Jones CF
    Dawel Lugo 2B
    Pete Kozma SS

    Michael Fulmer (3-11, 4.56)

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    Gordon won't face the Saints. He stayed home from the trip.

    NEW ORLEANS, La. - In a surprise move, Browns receiver Josh Gordon has been ruled out of the Saints game with a hamstring injury.

    Gordon, who has his hamstring stretched by trainers at the start of practice Friday, was not listed on the injury report Friday. In the early part of practice open to the media, he caught passes from the quarterbacks, including a number of them in which he fell to the ground after catching them just inside the side of the end zone.

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    Trevor Bauer's bullpen session on Saturday consisted of 40 pitches and a lot more intensity than his last outing on Wednesday. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Trevor Bauer knows there is no substitute for the rush of adrenaline a pitcher gets when he takes the mound in a big league game.

    But the Cleveland Indians All-Star thinks that extra "oompf" will be there when he's ready to return from the stress fracture in his right leg that's kept him sidelined since Aug. 11. 

    Bauer threw about 40 pitches from the game mound at Progressive Field prior to Saturday's contest against Detroit while pitching coach Carl Willis watched. A full battery of electronic monitoring equipment was set up around the field to measure Bauer's performance and give immediate feedback on his velocity and other metrics.

    Bauer told reporters afterward that his mechanics felt "a little out of sequence," but that's to be expected after not having been on a mound in a month and a half. He said his velocity ranged between 85-90 mph, which is about where he would enter an offseason.

    "I throw way harder in a game with adrenaline than any sort of training session," he said.

    Manager Terry Francona said it is next to impossible to replicate the energy a player generates for a game during a bullpen session. "There really is no way," Francona said. "I know Trev wanted to feel like it was Game 7 today. It's about impossible."

    Bauer will dissect the data gathered during the session and search for any improvement over his last outing on Wednesday.

    "I felt like I was able to throw a decent amount of strikes today," Bauer said. "Felt like I could compete."

    Bauer was asked what he thinks his role could be once he is ready to return, whether it will be in the starting rotation or bullpen. He demurred, saying he will pitch where he's told to pitch.

    "I feel confident that I'll be able to compete and help us win in whatever role that is," Bauer said. "I come into spring training ready to throw 5-6-7 innings. So, I'll make that point clear."

    Francona reiterated his faith in the Indians' medical and training staff and their expertise in knowing when Bauer will be ready to take the field.

    "I would guarantee if the medical people clear him, he'll be ready for the Olympics," Francona said. "By the time those guys get through with (injured players), they're ready to go."

    President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti watched Bauer's session and was encouraged with the volume of pitches thrown.

    "The last handful he really got after it and let it go and felt pretty good with it," Antonetti said. "Overall, a very good day and a step in the right direction for us."

    One of the goals of the day, Antonetti said, was to ramp up the intensity of the workout over Wednesday's outing. He feels Bauer accomplished that in his time on the mound. Antonetti remained optimistic that Bauer will be ready to pitch in a game before the end of September.

    "If he continues on the path that he's on, that would be our expectation," Antonetti said. "Hopefully, we can build up volume and have him pitch multiple innings in a game. Exactly where that ends is really hard to predict, but that's still the goal and objective."

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    The Browns would've had a tough enough time beating the Saints even with Josh Gordon.

    NEW ORLEANS -- The Browns would've been hard-pressed to beat the Saints even with Josh Gordon, and now it will be that much tougher.

    The Browns' starting X receiver was ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury after arriving at the facility complaining of it on Saturday morning. He was kept home from the trip after not appearing on the injury report all week.

    Before taking the field on Friday, Gordon had his hamstrings stretched by a trainer but then looked fine while catching passes. Also ruled out for the game were linebacker Christian Kirksey (ankle and shoulder) and tight end Seth DeValve (hamstring). Like Gordon, DeValve was not on the injury report all week.

    Gordon ruled out of Saints game with hamstring injury

    If the Saints' high-flying offense gets rolling, it will be hard for the Browns to keep up. They last week, they converted only one of six takeaways, and that was with Gordon on the field for 78 percent of the snaps.

    The Saints, meanwhile, are coming off a 48-40 loss to the Bucs at the Superdome in which they racked up 475 yards. The team that went 11-5 last season, including 7-1 at home, will be loaded for bear against the 0-0-1 Browns, and surely won't want to be the first team that loses to them since the Chargers in the second-to-last game of the 2016 season.

    The Browns will have to slay the three-headed monster of quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara to win this game.

    Brees is so accomplished that the Saints' 36-page release devotes 7 1/2 pages to him. Last season, he finished second in the NFL with a 103.9 QB rating, and set an NFL record by completing 72 percent of his attempts. He topped that last week against the Bucs, completing 82.2 percent (37-of-45) for 439 yards and 3 TDs for a 129.5 rating.

    Thanks to a veteran offensive line led by left tackle Terron Armstead and a lightning-quick release, Brees doesn't get hit much. In 2017, the Saints allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL with 20.

    As for Thomas, the 2016 second-round pick out of Ohio State, Browns rookie cornerback Denzel Ward will have his hands full with his former teammate. Thomas set a club record last week with 16 receptions for 180 yards and a TD. Thomas (6-3, 212) has four inches and almost 30 pounds on Ward, whose technique will need to be impeccable.

    Kamara, the 2017 third-round pick out of Tennessee and reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, is as much of a threat in the passing game as a runner. Last season, he finished second in the NFL with 14 TDs -- eight rushing, five receiving and one on a return.

    He finished second in the NFL with 705 yards after the catch and first with a 6.1 yard rushing average. His 81 receptions were first among rookies and second among all backs. Last week, he rushed for only 29 yards but two of his eight runs went for TDs. He also caught nine passes for 112 yards and a TD, and tacked on a two-point conversion.

    On the defensive side, Cam Jordan is coming off a 13-sack season and will try to make life miserable for right tackle Chris Hubbard, or rookie left tackle Desmond Harrison if he ventures over that way.

    The Browns can't count on the six defensive takeaways it took for them to tie the Steelers.

    My pick: Saints 31, Browns 17.

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    Toledo quarterback Mitchell Guadagni engineers impressive Toledo offense in a loss to No. 21 Miami Hurricanes.

    TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Rockets lost their chance at an upset over No. 21 Miami, falling, 49-24, before a sellout crowd of 28,111 in the Glass Bowl.

    But UT locked in on their quarterback of the present and the future in Hudson High product Mitchell Guadagni, one of many unproven sophomores and juniors on offense for the Rockets.

    "I didn't know what to expect,'' Toledo head coach Jason Candle said of his offense. "But I thought '6' was ready to roll today,'' he said of Guadagni. "A lot of growth in his perspective."

    It was baptism by fire for the junior QB. The 6-2, 210-pound Guadagni was making his second career start for the Rockets, going against both a fast and physical Miami (2-1) defense.

    Understand, Guadagni is replacing Logan Woodside, who led Toledo to the 2017 Mid-American Conference title and was also named MVP of the league. The shoes were big to be filled.

    He finished with 47 yards rushing and 222 yards passing with two touchdowns.

    "I take some good things away from this game,'' the quarterback said. "We can play with the best of the best. I'm ready to get back out there."

    Guadagni survived a tough first half, ending it with the Rockets (1-1) in a 21-7 hole. But Guadagni, with help from tailback Shakif Seymour (Parma Holy Name) gave the Rockets a spark at the end of the period, ultimately making it a game through three quarters.

    Guadagni engineered an eight-play, 65-yard drive ending with a seven-yard tipped TD pass to receiver Diontae Johnson, giving the Rockets life going into the half.

    On that drive Guadagni rushed for 15 yards and was 3-for-4 passing for 31 yards with the TD. Seymour, who struggled to find running room early, ran for 7, 8 and 4 yards in that drive to keep the Hurricanes honest defensively.

    If Guadagni ever had any jitters, they were gone by the second half. After the Toledo defense held Miami on downs to start the second half, Guadagni engineered an 81-yard touchdown drive, ending with a five-yard run, cutting Miami's lead to 21-14.

    The big play in that drive was a 34-yard pass play from Guadagni to Johnson. With more than 10-minutes still to play in the third-quarter, the packed Glass Bowl was humming for an upset.

    Miami answered with a TD to take control again, 28-14, but Toledo had its answer as well. Guadagni solidified himself as UT's quarterback of the present and the future.

    By the end of the third quarter he was already in the books with 58 yards rushing plus 222-yards passing with a pair of TD's, including a 40-yarder to Johnson.

    Despite a fourth-quarter interception, allowing Miami to push its lead out to 49-24, it was clearly a successful baptism for Guadagni.

    Toledo-Miami inked this series contract in 2011. This is when the now No. 21 Hurricanes were in a gridiron swoon. They finished 7-6 in 2010, 6-6 in 2011 and 7-5 in 2012 before fortunes began to change for the better again.

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    Mount Union quarterback D'Angelo Fulford sets career high in single game passing.

    BEREA, Ohio - The fireworks started just before the kickoff and proved to burn the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets.

    It was not like the Mount Union Purple Raiders needed any help, however.

    D'Angelo Fulford was 18-for-22 for a career high 364 yards and five touchdown passes to lead the Raiders to a 56-21 victory over the Yellow Jackets Saturday afternoon at George Finnie Stadium.

    The Raiders (2-0) extended their regular season road streak to 131. Their last loss on the road was at Baldwin Wallace in 1991.

    Mount Union extended their streak over Baldwin Wallace to 24. It hasn't loss to Baldwin Wallace since 1994 in Alliance.

    But on this day, Mount Union received a trump card before the start of the game. When Baldwin Wallace's players ran onto the field between its band, several players turned toward the Mount Union bench. The entire Baldwin Wallace team was called for unsportsmanlike conduct [taunting]. This meant any player called for unsportsmanlike conduct would get ejected.

    Fulford passed his way to two first-quarter touchdown passes of 33 yards to Justin Hill and 54 yards to Jared Ruth, combining with a 25-yard interception return for a touchdown to give Mount Union a 21-7 lead.

    Baldwin Wallace struck back on what appeared as a 68-yard TD pass from Jake Hudson to Jordan Leverette.

    But Leverette was ejected for taunting, and a second misconduct means automatic ejection this season in college football. Even worse, the touchdown was called back and the ball was moved to the 15.

    "That was big," said Baldwin Wallace coach Jim Hilvert. "When one of your better players gets ejected off of whatever that was. Hopefully we'll learn from that we can't have those mental mistakes if we're going to be a good football team."

    Now the Yellow Jackets were out of sync and were forced to attempt a field goal that was blocked.

    Baldwin Wallace survived the block and managed to score on its next possession on Ty Gallo's 12-yard reception to cut Mount Union's lead to 21-14.

    The score only energized the Raiders, who scored five unanswered touchdowns and took a 56-14 lead with 7:01 left in the third quarter.

    Mount Union hosts John Carroll next week. Baldwin Wallace visits Heidelberg.


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    Detroit's Victor Martinez was honored by the Indians before Saturday's game. He's expected to retire at the end of this season. Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Victor Martinez, one of the best catchers in Indians history, is expected to retire at the end of this season.

    Martinez hasn't played for the Indians since 2009 when they traded him to Boston. But he was signed, developed and brought to the big leagues by them. Martinez, 39, has spent the last seven years with the Tigers.

    From 2002 through 2009, Martinez hit .297 (900-for-3,035) with 103 homers and 518 RBI for the Indians. He went to three All-Star Games and won the AL Silver Slugger award for catcher in 2004.

    Before Saturday's game, the Indians honored the switch-hitting Martinez with a video on the Progressive Field scoreboard. Chris Antonetti, Indians president of baseball operations, and manager Terry Francona presented Martinez with replica of home plate with his accomplishments with the Indians inscribed on it.

    Martinez was visibly moved, wiping tears from his eyes as he hugged Antonetti and Francona and waved to the fans. The Detroit dugout was filled with his teammates as they applauded Martinez.

    When the Indians traded him to Boston on July 31, 2009 for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price, Martinez cried as well in the Tribe's locker room. He was a player who never wanted to leave Cleveland.

    In Boston he formed a great relationship with Francona, who was managing the Red Sox at the time. The friendship has stayed strong over the years.

    "He's one of the nicest guys in the game and one of the most professional hitters, just a great teammate," said Francona. "You can pretty much write anything good and put my name next to it (about Victor). That's how I feel."

    Francona did not feel so good about facing Martinez and the Tigers when he became manager of the Indians. Especially when Martinez was hitting in the middle of Dertroit's lineup along with Miguel Cabrera.

    "There were some times when it almost looked like he was playing softball," said Francona. "He would go through those periods where he was locked in and they would just throw it and he would hit it.

    "When you were with him, it was good. When you were against him, it was a bad feeling. I thought he was the perfect batter to hit behind Miggy (Cabrera), because nobody wanted to pitch to Miggy. If you didn't, Victor was going to hurt you and it didn't matter if it was left- or right-handed."

    Martinez never forgot his days in Cleveland and he made sure the Indians never forgot him. He's a .295 (135-for-458) lifetime hitter against them with 15 homers, 75 RBI and a .826 OPS.

    In 2007, when the Indians won the AL Central and reached Game 7 of the ALCS before being eliminated by Francona's Red Sox, Martinez hit .301 (169-for-562) with 25 homers and a career-high 114 RBI.

    This is Martinez's 16th season in the big leagues. He entered Saturday's game as a .295 career hitter with 421 doubles, 246 homers and 1,177 RBI.

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    The Indians announced Encarnacion was removed with a mild right ankle sprain.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Cleveland Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion exited Saturday's game against the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning after he appeared to roll his right ankle while running to second base.

    Encarnacion, who had already scored three times and collected two singles with the Tribe leading 15-0, advanced to second on a base hit by Yonder Alonso. Replays showed Encarnacion's ankle roll as he stepped on the bag at second.

    The Indians announced Encarnacion was removed from the game with a mild right ankle sprain.

    Rajai Davis entered the game as a pinch runner for Encarnacion. The play was reminiscent of Encarnacion's injury in Game 2 of the 2017 American League Division Series against New York when the Tribe slugger jammed the same ankle into second base while retreating after a line drive by Jay Bruce.

    Encarnacion missed 10 games in mid-August with a stint on the disabled list after suffering a bruised hand around the All-Star break.

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