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Indians' bullpen struggles after Kluber's gem

Tribe ace fires 6 1/3 shutout innings, but Astros rally in 8th, pour it on in 9th
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- It is becoming increasingly difficult to find another adjective to appropriately summarize the state of the Indians' bullpen. The best way to describe the situation is as a debilitating problem that needs to be solved if Cleveland is going to achieve all it wants to achieve this season.

On Friday night, things were aligned perfectly for the Tribe to notch one in the win column against the Astros. Corey Kluber pitched brilliantly into the seventh, setting things up for Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to apply the clamp on the reigning World Series champs. Things unraveled at the seams in swift fashion, however, sending the Indians spiraling to an 11-2 loss at Progressive Field.

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CLEVELAND -- It is becoming increasingly difficult to find another adjective to appropriately summarize the state of the Indians' bullpen. The best way to describe the situation is as a debilitating problem that needs to be solved if Cleveland is going to achieve all it wants to achieve this season.

On Friday night, things were aligned perfectly for the Tribe to notch one in the win column against the Astros. Corey Kluber pitched brilliantly into the seventh, setting things up for Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to apply the clamp on the reigning World Series champs. Things unraveled at the seams in swift fashion, however, sending the Indians spiraling to an 11-2 loss at Progressive Field.

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"I didn't do my part," Miller said. "And things kind of fell apart from there."

Beginning with Miller's struggles in the eighth, Cleveland's bullpen surrendered 11 runs on nine hits over the final two innings to effectively wash away Kluber's work over 6 1/3 scoreless frames. Against five Tribe relievers, Houston's lineup compiled five extra-base hits, including one home run, with two walks, two hit batsmen and no strikeouts.

The late outpouring of offense boosted the Indians' bullpen ERA to a Major League-high 6.23. For comparison, the highest bullpen ERA in the past 50 years for Cleveland was a 5.33 mark posted by the 1986 relief corps. This year's team already has cycled through 14 different relievers, and even the club's typically stout duo of Miller and Allen has been pulled into the black hole.

"The only thing I really know is we're going to figure it out," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I didn't just sign up for the good days. We knew there'd be some tough sledding sometimes. So we'll keep putting our heads together and see if we can figure it out."

Video: HOU@CLE: Francona on the bullpen struggles in loss

A pair of breakthroughs against Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel, combined with Kluber's effort, positioned the Indians well heading into the seventh. Armed with a 2-0 lead in that frame, Kluber induced a one-out chopper off the bat of Yuli Gurriel, but third baseman Jose Ramirez bobbled the ball for an error and had no play. Kluber then gave up back-to-back singles, prompting Francona to turn to Miller.

Chasing Kluber was precisely what Houston wanted to accomplish.

"That's the key," Astros outfielder Marwin Gonzalez said. "It's no secret that they're having a hard time right now. They have a pretty good bullpen, but they're having a hard time. When you have a pitcher like Kluber, you want to get him out as soon as possible."

Initially, the Indians' strategy worked, as Miller generated an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play off the bat of pinch-hitter J.D. Davis to escape the seventh unscathed.

Video: HOU@CLE: Miller induces key inning-ending double play

In the eighth, though, the tall lefty gave up a leadoff double to George Springer, issued a walk to Alex Bregman and then watched both runners score on a double into the left-field corner from reigning AL MVP Jose Altuve.

Video: HOU@CLE: Altuve ties game with 2-run double in 8th

"I just didn't throw any good pitches," said Miller, who has allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings since coming off the disabled list earlier this month. "I'm definitely not sharp. I wish I had the answers. I'm looking for everything and working hard at it. I think there are flashes of it, but it's been a pretty big grind lately."

The floodgates opened after Miller's early exit.

The Astros used a perfectly executed bunt from Gonzalez to score Altuve from third against Allen, who later issued a walk with the bases loaded. Oliver Drake was on the hook for six of the seven runs piled on by Houston in the ninth, and Josh Tomlin allowed a three-run homer to Springer.

For a snapshot of how dramatic Cleveland's bullpen woes have been, consider that the team has a plus-49 run differential in the first six innings this season, compared to a minus-36 differential from the seventh inning on. Kluber, who lowered his ERA to 2.17 on the season, expressed optimism that the team's bullpen can turn things around.

"You still have confidence," Kluber said. "I think that you have to have confidence in your teammates. If a starter is struggling, if a reliever is struggling, if a hitter is struggling, you still have confidence in them. I guess I would say we all expect to get the job done each time out.

"Obviously that's not going to happen every time, but that doesn't mean you don't have that expectation out of yourself and of your teammates."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Lindor dropped jaws in the sixth when Altuve drilled a cutter from Kluber 104.9 mph off the bat, per Statcast™. With only a brief moment to react, Lindor reached with his glove while falling backward, snaring the sharp one-hopper before it could find the outfield grass. Lindor swiftly shifted to his feet, spun and fired a pinpoint throw to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to beat Altuve by a step.

SOUND SMART
In the fifth inning, Kluber sent one of his signature curveballs diving away from the flailing bat of Max Stassi for a strikeout. The punchout was the 1,278th of Kluber's career, all for the Indians, moving him past Tribe greats Bob Lemon and Early Wynn for sole possession of third place on the team's strikeout list. Only Sam McDowell (2,159) and Bob Feller (2,581) have more in Cleveland's long and storied history.

Video: HOU@CLE: Kluber moves into 3rd on Tribe's K list

UP NEXT
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (5-3, 3.65 ERA) will take the mound Saturday for the Tribe in Game 3 of a four-game series against the Astros at Progressive Field, with first pitch set for 7:15 p.m. ET on FOX. Carrasco faced the Astros in Houston in his last start and was handed the loss after allowing three runs on eight hits in 7 2/3 innings. The Astros will counter with righty Lance McCullers Jr., who got the win against Carrasco and the Indians on Sunday.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. MLB.com's David Adler contributed to this report.

Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber

Lindor makes amazing play to rob Altuve of hit

Shortstop extends on grounder, throws out reigning AL MVP
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Sometimes fielding a grounder takes skill. Sometimes it takes luck.

Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor had the benefit of both Friday when he took a hit away from Jose Altuve in the sixth inning of the Tribe's 11-2 loss at Progressive Field. Altuve sent a 1-0 cutter from Corey Kluber toward Lindor, who extended to make a back-handed stab to stop the chopper, spun and threw to first to get Houston's speedy second baseman.

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CLEVELAND -- Sometimes fielding a grounder takes skill. Sometimes it takes luck.

Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor had the benefit of both Friday when he took a hit away from Jose Altuve in the sixth inning of the Tribe's 11-2 loss at Progressive Field. Altuve sent a 1-0 cutter from Corey Kluber toward Lindor, who extended to make a back-handed stab to stop the chopper, spun and threw to first to get Houston's speedy second baseman.

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Altuve's grounder had a 66.0 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™, but Lindor's 1.9-second exchange and 84.6 mph throw to first made the difference to help secure a 1-2-3 inning for Kluber.

Lindor, who went 0-for-4 with a walk in the loss, also made a nice play on a hard grounder to get the Tribe out of a jam in the seventh. With the bases loaded and one out, Astros pinch-hitter J.D. Davis hit a one-hopper off Andrew Miller right at Lindor, who made the pickup and flipped to Jason Kipnis, who fired to first for the inning-ending double play.

After committing four errors in six games from May 4-11, Lindor has gone without an error in his last 12 games.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter @Casey_Harrison1.

Cleveland Indians, Francisco Lindor

Injury updates on Zimmer, Guyer, Chisenhall

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- The return of center fielder Bradley Zimmer to the Tribe's lineup could come sooner rather than later.

Indians manager Terry Francona indicated Friday that Zimmer is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Saturday. Zimmer, who has been sidelined since May 15 with a left rib contusion, is slated to play the outfield Saturday, followed by a game as the designated hitter on Sunday before being further evaluated.

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CLEVELAND -- The return of center fielder Bradley Zimmer to the Tribe's lineup could come sooner rather than later.

Indians manager Terry Francona indicated Friday that Zimmer is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Saturday. Zimmer, who has been sidelined since May 15 with a left rib contusion, is slated to play the outfield Saturday, followed by a game as the designated hitter on Sunday before being further evaluated.

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"He had a good day today," Francona said prior to Friday's game against the Astros.

The decision to have Zimmer join Akron rather than Triple-A Columbus is due to the Clippers being on the road in Georgia, facing Gwinnett as part of a lengthy road trip.

Francona also noted that sidelined outfielders Brandon Guyer and Lonnie Chisenhall will also have rehab stints with Akron this weekend. Guyer has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 20 with a left cervical strain, and Chisenhall has been out since April 8 with a right calf strain.

Video: CLE@DET: Guyer hits his first career grand slam

Chisenhall and Guyer were in right and left field, respectively, for Akron during Friday's game against Double-A Richmond. According to Francona, Chisenhall will play right field again Saturday, with Guyer serving as the DH. There is still no announced timetable for their return to the Indians.

Worth noting

• First baseman Yonder Alonso was the first Indians player to reach base in Thursday's 8-2 loss to the Astros, doing so with a bunt down the third-base line that easily beat Houston's defensive shift. Francona had no problem with Alonso using that approach to reach base.

"There are times when, I think, a baserunner is as important as driving the ball, bunts are good," Francona said. "If you talk to older baseball people, they'd be more hesitant to do that, but I don't think they had to deal with all the shifting that's involved. So maybe it's changing some of your philosophy a little, where not only do you get on base, but you can make defenses maybe play you more honest."

• Reliever Nick Goody (10-day DL, right elbow) is still feeling symptoms related to the elbow injury he sustained on May 3 against the Blue Jays. The righty has not yet resumed his throwing program and is instead working through range of motion and strengthening exercises.

Video: CLE@LAA: Talbot throws eight shutout innings

• The Indians announced Friday they signed right-hander Mitch Talbot to a Minor League deal, and he will make his first start with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. Talbot, who has spent parts of the last two seasons with the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League, made 40 starts for the Indians in 2010 and '11, posting a 12-19 record with 5.04 ERA.

• Hailey Dawson, 7, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game against the Astros with a customized 3D printed hand. Dawson was born with Poland Syndrome, a rare birth defect that affected the development of her right hand. Her goal is to throw the first pitch at every Major League ballpark, and Progressive Field will be the eighth ballpark she will visit.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter @Casey_Harrison1.

Cleveland Indians, Lonnie Chisenhall, Brandon Guyer, Bradley Zimmer

Bieber throws no-hitter for Clippers

MLB.com @wboor

Shane Bieber has been tough to hit all season. On Friday night, he took that a step further and was truly unhittable as he fired the eighth no-hitter in Triple-A Columbus history.

Shane Bieber has been tough to hit all season. On Friday night, he took that a step further and was truly unhittable as he fired the eighth no-hitter in Triple-A Columbus history.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

The Indians' No. 8 prospect carved his way through seven innings as the Clippers topped Gwinnett, 7-0, in a rain-shortened game.

"I was kind of able to have [the rain] in the back of my head and it was just that much more important to get ahead early in the count," Bieber told MiLB.com. "Fortunately, I was able to do that and try and combat that weather by just getting ahead an being aggressive early. Things ended up panning out."

Bieber, a 22-year-old right-hander, retired the first seven batters he faced before an error interrupted his perfect game bid. After that baserunner was caught stealing, Bieber locked in again and retired 13 in a row to finish the outing.

Bieber fired 61 of his 80 pitches for strikes and struck out seven in what was just the latest in a string of strong starts.

After posting a 1.16 ERA through five starts with Double-A Akron, Bieber was promoted to Columbus, where it's been more of the same. He has a 1.05 ERA through five starts and hasn't given up a run since May 15 -- a span of 20 2/3 innings. Overall, Bieber has a 1.11 ERA and has amassed 61 strikeouts, while walking just three.

Bieber fans seven in no-hitter

Indians' No. 6 prospect Yu-Cheng Chang helped provide some of the Clippers' offense, going 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Castro has big game with Akron

MLB.com @wboor

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Friday.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Ariel Jurado made quick work of the opposition as he led Double-A Frisco to a 2-0 win over Arkansas on Friday night.

The Rangers' No. 19 prospect used just 86 pitches, 63 strikes, as he spun the first complete game of his career. Jurado, who has given up one earned run or fewer in four of his past five starts, gave up six hits, walked none and struck out one.

Strikeouts haven't been a big part of Jurado's season -- he's fanned just 19 in 44 innings -- but that hasn't seemed to matter as he has a 2.05 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.

Other top prospect performances from Friday's action:

• The Blue Jays' dynamic duo of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1, No. 2 overall) and Bo Bichette (Blue Jays' No. 2, No. 11 overall) struck again, going a combined 6-for-8 with six RBIs for Double-A New Hampshire. Additionally, the two hit back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches in the seventh inning.

VladBo back-to-back

• No. 25 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez (Phillies' No. 1) notched a career-high 10 strikeouts in another solid start for Class A Advanced Clearwater. Sanchez didn't issue a walk for the first time this season and gave up one run on three hits over six innings. The right-hander has a 2.95 ERA through seven starts and has given up one earned run or fewer in three straight starts.

• No. 52 overall prospect Keston Hiura (Brewers' No. 1) hit a walk-off three-run homer as part of a 2-for-5, three-RBI game for Class A Advanced Carolina. Hiura, who was hitting .185 on April 25, has been hot recently. The 2017 first-round Draft pick has hits in eight of his past nine games, including eight multihit efforts, and he is now batting .292.

Hiura hits walk-off

• No. 55 overall prospect Alex Faedo (Tigers' No. 3) struggled in the fifth, giving up a run on two hits and two walks before being lifted, but he still put together a solid outing for Class A Advanced Lakeland. Faedo, who gave up one run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings, set a season-high with seven strikeouts and has given up one run over 11 2/3 innings since being tagged for eight runs in two innings on May 11.

Astros' No. 6 prospect Cionel Perez spun just 4 2/3 innings, but that was just enough time for him to match his career best with 10 strikeouts for Double-A Corpus Christi. The lefty, who surrendered one run on three hits, struck out at least one in each inning and has 47 strikeouts through 38 1/3 innings.

Braves' No. 18 prospect Drew Waters extended his hitting streak to seven games and pushed his average up to .281 as he went 2-for-3 with a double and a homer for Class A Rome. Waters, who has five homers this season, also matched his career high with four RBIs.

• Indians' prospects Willi Castro (No. 5) and Shane Bieber (No. 8) each had memorable nights. While Bieber threw a seven-inning no-hitter and extended his scoreless streak to 20 2/3 innings for Triple-A Columbus, Castro did it all for Double-A Akron. The 21-year-old shortstop hit a trio of doubles and finished 4-for-5 with five RBIs.

Bieber fans 7 in no-hitter

Mets' No. 4 prospect Peter Alonso continues to torch Eastern League pitching as he hit his 13th homer of the year for Double-A Binghamton. Alonso, who is hitting .346, went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, his second homer in the past three days.

Nationals' No. 6 prospect Luis Garcia turned in his second four-hit game of the season and has seven hits in his last eight at-bats after going 4-for-4 for Class A Hagerstown. Garcia also reached base via a walk, doubled and drove in two runs.

Orioles' No. 26 prospect Matthias Dietz extended his scoreless innings streak to 17 innings as he fired seven scoreless frames for Class A Delmarva. The 22-year-old right-hander threw 57 of his 74 pitches for strikes, didn't issue a walk and yielded just three hits.

• Tigers' No. 10 prospect Christin Stewart hit his International League-leading 12th homer of the season for Triple-A Toledo. Stewart hit a two-out solo blast in the first and then finished 2-for-5.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Clevinger can't escape trouble in loss to Astros

Indians righty throws 4 scoreless innings before stumbling in 5th, 6th
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Against the likes of Charlie Morton and an elite Astros rotation, runs were likely going to come at a premium for Indians hitters in this four-game series. And for Tribe starter Mike Clevinger, he knew minimizing mistakes would be needed to give the Indians their best bet at a win in the opener Thursday.

Unfortunately for Clevinger, an eventful fifth inning opened the door for a three-run home run by Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, tilting the game in Houston's direction in an eventual 8-2 loss for the Tribe at Progressive Field.

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CLEVELAND -- Against the likes of Charlie Morton and an elite Astros rotation, runs were likely going to come at a premium for Indians hitters in this four-game series. And for Tribe starter Mike Clevinger, he knew minimizing mistakes would be needed to give the Indians their best bet at a win in the opener Thursday.

Unfortunately for Clevinger, an eventful fifth inning opened the door for a three-run home run by Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, tilting the game in Houston's direction in an eventual 8-2 loss for the Tribe at Progressive Field.

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"He hung a breaking ball on the home run," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But it's kind of what led up to that."

Clevinger, who was also unsuccessful in shaking off the American League West-leading Astros in his last start in Houston, was charged with five runs in 5 1/3 innings. He picked up his second straight loss, while the Indians (24-24) fell back to .500.

"I mean, they have a good approach, today especially," Clevinger said. "It was almost like one through nine was waiting on offspeed once I got ahead, just because that's obviously where we're going."

Tony Kemp started the Astros' fifth-inning rally by reaching on a hit-by-pitch with two outs. Clevinger then walked George Springer to set the table for Bregman, who cleared the left-field wall for his fifth homer of the season. Clevinger came back out for the sixth, but gave up a pair of singles -- which both came around to score -- before his night was over.

Video: HOU@CLE: Bregman launches a 3-run homer to left field

"Clevinger lived on the edge a lot of the game," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We hit some balls hard and obviously had a special inning. It's nice to break through and have some success after what we felt were some pretty good at-bats."

The right-hander ended the outing with four strikeouts and three walks. Clevinger is now 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA across his last two outings. All of Clevinger's shortcomings on Thursday came on his third trip through the lineup.

"Don't get me wrong, he has pitched so well that I think that's just the next step for him," said Francona. "It's understanding when you get to that point in the game, limiting damage, and putting a pitch behind you and moving on."

Video: HOU@CLE: Clevinger, Francona discuss loss to Astros

The Astros put up five more in the sixth inning, highlighted by a three-run shot by Jake Marisnick and an RBI double from Bregman, giving Houston an 8-2 lead. Francona was forced to use four pitchers -- Clevinger, Tyler Olson, Neil Ramirez and Oliver Drake -- to get through the rough frame.

Francona said executing pitch location is critical, especially against a talented lineup like Houston's.

"If the ball doesn't end up where it's supposed to, or you walk somebody or whatever, don't make a play, tonight's a really good example," Francona said. "They turned two into eight in a hurry."

Morton, who picked up a win his last time out against the Indians, improved to 7-0 after allowing five hits and three walks while striking out five over six innings. His lone blemish was a two-run single given up to Michael Brantley in the third inning.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Streaking at the plate: Brantley's lone hit was a single up the middle that scored Roberto Perez and Francisco Lindor. That extended the outfielder's hitting streak to 13 games, representing the longest active streak in the Majors. The grounder had just an 18 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™. Brantley is hitting .357 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored during the hit streak. More >

Video: HOU@CLE: Brantley plates 2 with a single to center

SOUND SMART
Brantley ended the evening 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. It marked the first time that the Indians outfielder struck out at least three times in a game since Sept. 14, 2013. Entering Thursday, Brantley had the second-lowest strikeout rate (7.4 percent) among qualified MLB hitters. He only has nine three-strikeout games in his career.

Video: HOU@CLE: Morton K's Brantley looking in the 1st

UP NEXT
Right-hander Corey Kluber will take the mound Friday in the second game of a four-game series against the Astros at Progressive Field, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET. Kluber faced the Astros in his last start on Saturday and picked up the win after allowing two runs on six hits in seven innings with 10 strikeouts. The Astros will counter with lefty Dallas Keuchel, who lost that game to Kluber and the Indians on Saturday.

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Mike Clevinger

Bauer praises Cole, looks forward to matchup

Righty pitchers had rocky relationship while teammates at UCLA
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- It is no secret that Indians starter Trevor Bauer and Astros starter Gerrit Cole did not get along during their days as a prolific collegiate pitching duo for the UCLA Bruins. Much has been made over the years of that history, but Bauer took a step toward trying to move on prior to Thursday's game against Houston.

In a lengthy conversation with MLB.com and The Athletic, Bauer praised Cole for the season he has put together for the Astros and said he is looking forward to locking horns with the Houston right-hander in Sunday's finale between the American League contenders. The way Bauer tells the story, Cole was one in a long line of people who doubted Bauer could succeed in baseball, but the Tribe pitcher said he does not waste mental energy by holding a grudge.

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CLEVELAND -- It is no secret that Indians starter Trevor Bauer and Astros starter Gerrit Cole did not get along during their days as a prolific collegiate pitching duo for the UCLA Bruins. Much has been made over the years of that history, but Bauer took a step toward trying to move on prior to Thursday's game against Houston.

In a lengthy conversation with MLB.com and The Athletic, Bauer praised Cole for the season he has put together for the Astros and said he is looking forward to locking horns with the Houston right-hander in Sunday's finale between the American League contenders. The way Bauer tells the story, Cole was one in a long line of people who doubted Bauer could succeed in baseball, but the Tribe pitcher said he does not waste mental energy by holding a grudge.

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"I have no problem with Gerrit," Bauer said. "We had a rocky relationship in college, because he told me that I had no future in baseball and he insulted my work ethic as a freshman. I don't take kindly to those couple things, so we had our issues. And I have, I don't know, those feelings have long since faded. Right now, it's cool to see him having success. He's done a lot of hard work. He's changed his mechanics around. He's changed his pitch repertoire and how he uses it and his attack plan and stuff like that, and he's having a ton of success with it.

Video: CLE@CHC: Bauer fans 6 over 6 scoreless frames

"And it's good to see, because it's good for him, it's good for me, it's good for the tapestry of our lives. Regardless of how each of us feels about anything, we're intertwined forever. I don't know if two teammates have been drafted as high out of college ever. I'm not sure if that's a thing. I can't imagine it would be, but we're part of a historic team at UCLA. We're part of a historic Draft. We're part of, hopefully, historic careers on both ends.

"I'd love nothing more than to trade Cy Youngs with him for the next 10 years, because it's good for everybody involved. So I'm happy for him. I'm happy that he seems to be healthy this year."

Tweet from @MLBastian: "We're intertwined forever." Trevor Bauer talks Gerrit Cole, and a highly-anticipated matchup years in the making -- https://t.co/AJEvvSCNaC

After their 2011 season at UCLA -- a campaign that netted Bauer the Golden Spikes Award -- Cole went first overall in the MLB Draft to the Pirates, while Bauer went third overall to the D-backs. The way they are pitching so far this season, both could wind up in the AL Cy Young Award conversation. Cole is 5-1 with a 1.86 ERA, 101 strikeouts and 17 walks in 67 2/3 innings. Bauer has a 2.35 ERA with 73 strikeouts vs. 23 walks in 65 innings.

Video: SF@HOU: Cole strikes out 8 in 6 strong innings

Bauer said it will be "kind of like the old days" to be in the spotlight with Cole on Sunday in Cleveland. The Indians starter added that the series should be a source of pride for UCLA baseball, considering that Adam Plutko (the Bruins' third starter behind the duo in 2011) is now a member of the Indians' rotation, too.

"It's just really cool to see our entire 2011 pitching rotation is [here] for this series with the Astros," Bauer said. "So that's pretty cool to see. It's a testament to all of the talent level and the hard work of all three members of that staff that are now here. It's just really cool. Very cool."

Worth noting
• Right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (10-day disabled list, right calf strain) has gone 2-for-3 with a walk through two Minor League rehab games with Triple-A Columbus. Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Chisenhall would use Thursday as a workout day before playing in back-to-back Minor League games on Friday and Saturday.

• Outfielder Tyler Naquin (10-day DL, left hamstring strain) has resumed full baseball activities and did some sprinting drills on Thursday. Outfielders Bradley Zimmer (10-day DL, left rib contusion) and Brandon Guyer (10-day DL, neck strain) are getting close to starting Minor League rehab assignments, with Zimmer's potentially beginning this weekend.

• Right-hander Danny Salazar (60-day DL, right shoulder tendinitis) is still feeling discomfort in his throwing arm and may fly to Cleveland from Arizona in the near future to be examined by the Major League medical staff. Lefty Ryan Merritt (60-day DL, left shoulder inflammation) is in Cleveland right now going through rehab work.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Trevor Bauer

Brantley extends hit streak to 13 with 2-run 1B

MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- After striking out against Astros starter Charlie Morton in the first inning of the Tribe's 8-2 loss Thursday at Progressive Field, Michael Brantley had a different approach his next time up to keep his hit streak alive.

The Indians outfielder was able to send a two-run single up the middle during his second at-bat to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to 13 games -- the longest active streak in the Majors.

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CLEVELAND -- After striking out against Astros starter Charlie Morton in the first inning of the Tribe's 8-2 loss Thursday at Progressive Field, Michael Brantley had a different approach his next time up to keep his hit streak alive.

The Indians outfielder was able to send a two-run single up the middle during his second at-bat to give the Tribe a 2-0 lead in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to 13 games -- the longest active streak in the Majors.

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Brantley's grounder, which scored Roberto Perez and Francisco Lindor, had just an 18 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™. Perez started the rally with a leadoff single, and Lindor hit his 17th double of the season with one out.

Brantley is hitting .357 with four homers, 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored during the hit streak. Brantley is tied for second in the American League in batting average at .335, trailing only Mookie Betts (.362).

Casey Harrison is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

Cleveland Indians, Michael Brantley

Which Tribe prospect could be close to callup?

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

Prospects remain the lifeblood of Major League teams, and it's apparent in the American League Central with the White Sox, Royals and Tigers all in a rebuilding stage, while the contending Indians and Twins have prospects who are close to reaching the big leagues and could help down the stretch as they compete for the postseason.

The division boasts 18 players ranked among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, including eight from Chicago, five from Minnesota, three from Detroit and two from Cleveland. So it's clear that plenty of talent is going to make its way into the division in the near future.

Prospects remain the lifeblood of Major League teams, and it's apparent in the American League Central with the White Sox, Royals and Tigers all in a rebuilding stage, while the contending Indians and Twins have prospects who are close to reaching the big leagues and could help down the stretch as they compete for the postseason.

The division boasts 18 players ranked among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects, including eight from Chicago, five from Minnesota, three from Detroit and two from Cleveland. So it's clear that plenty of talent is going to make its way into the division in the near future.

With that in mind, here's a look at five prospects -- one from each team -- who could make an impact in 2018.

Video: Top Prospects: Shane Bieber, RHP, Indians

Indians
Prospect: RHP Shane Bieber
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 8 (Indians)
Why you should keep an eye on him: Bieber excelled with Double-A Akron (1.32 ERA in four starts) and hasn't missed a beat since being promoted to Triple-A Columbus (1.16 ERA through five starts). Overall, the precision-based righty had a 1.23 ERA with 54 strikeouts against just three walks in 58 1/3 innings through his first nine outings.
ETA: Possibly later this season. Bieber was a blip on the organization's radar coming into 2018, but he has risen to the next-man-up region of the depth chart. If there were a setback in the MLB rotation, the righty now looks like a real possibility to be called.

Royals
Prospect: LHP Richard Lovelady
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 17 (Royals)
Why you should keep an eye on him: Lovelady is only 22 and is rising through the system at a quick rate. He has a plus fastball with late life and a slider that could be Major League-ready now. Lovelady is 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 15 games at Triple-A Omaha this season.
ETA: Lovelady is not on the 40-man roster, but that could change when spots open up after the non-waiver Trade Deadline. There's a decent chance you'll see him at the big league level this season.

Tigers
Prospect: OF Christin Stewart
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 10 (Tigers)
Why you should keep an eye on him: The Tigers need impact bats for their rebuilding project, and Stewart is about as impactful of a bat as they have in their system. But the power-hitting left-handed batter has been hitting for average, too, in Triple-A Toledo.
ETA: Stewart could make his debut late in the 2018 season, possibly as a September callup.

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Gordon, SS, Twins

Twins
Prospect: SS Nick Gordon
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 4 (Twins), No. 30 (MLB)
Why you should keep an eye on him: After hitting .333/.381/.525 with 18 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases in 40 games at Double-A Chattanooga, Gordon was promoted to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday. The son of former MLB closer Tom Gordon, he's also worked to improve his defense and is considered a capable shortstop.
ETA: Gordon could make his debut late this year, potentially as a September callup. Minnesota has a crowded middle infield with shortstop Eduardo Escobar and second baseman Brian Dozier, as well as shortstop Jorge Polanco set to return from his 80-game suspension in early July. But Dozier and Escobar are both impending free agents, so Gordon could establish himself as a regular next year.

Video: Eloy Jimenez on working hard, preparing for Majors

White Sox
Prospect: OF Eloy Jimenez
MLB Pipeline rank: No. 1 (White Sox), No. 3 (MLB)
Why you should keep an eye on him: Every rebuild has a cornerstone player or two, and the right-handed-hitting Jimenez appears to be that sort of presence for the White Sox. The Cubs may not have reached a third straight National League Championship Series in 2017 without acquiring lefty Jose Quintana at the Deadline, but in Jimenez, the White Sox received in return a potential offensive force for the next decade.
ETA: The White Sox certainly aren't rushing prospects, so he conceivably could spend the 2018 season in the Minors. But as general manager Rick Hahn has said, the good ones have a way of forcing the issue.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Shane Bieber, Nick Gordon, Eloy Jimenez, Richard Lovelady, Christin Stewart

Plutko takes no-no into 7th as Tribe blanks Cubs

Rookie righty allows just 2 hits over 6-plus innings for 2nd MLB win
MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- When Jose Ramirez reached the mound in the seventh, the Indians third baseman pounded his fist hard in his glove and then gave starter Adam Plutko a slap on the back. The Indians pitcher was done for the night, and what a night it was at Wrigley Field for the rookie.

In his debut as the Tribe's fifth starter, Plutko flirted with a no-hitter and helped guide Cleveland to a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night. The right-hander was promoted from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game and then baffled Chicago's bats for his second win in as many starts for the Indians this season.

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CHICAGO -- When Jose Ramirez reached the mound in the seventh, the Indians third baseman pounded his fist hard in his glove and then gave starter Adam Plutko a slap on the back. The Indians pitcher was done for the night, and what a night it was at Wrigley Field for the rookie.

In his debut as the Tribe's fifth starter, Plutko flirted with a no-hitter and helped guide Cleveland to a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night. The right-hander was promoted from Triple-A Columbus prior to the game and then baffled Chicago's bats for his second win in as many starts for the Indians this season.

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"He's done a great job," Indians relief ace Andrew Miller said of Plutko. "That's a great lineup. This is not an easy place to come in and pitch against those guys and do what he did. I think he's shown he's capable of handling this stage, and that's pretty impressive."

Video: CLE@CHC: Plutko, Miller, Francona on win over Cubs

The last win came in a spot start for Plutko. This time, it looks like the righty is here to stay.

Plutko labored some with his command early, issuing all four of his walks within his first eight batters faced through the first two innings. That included three to load the bases in the second, when Plutko escaped via a groundout from Cubs starter Jon Lester.

"He's been commanding the ball so well, whether it was the game with us or at Triple-A," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It was nice to see [him not give in], because we know when he commands, he can be pretty good. But on a night when he didn't command real well, he still did pretty darn good."

Video: CLE@CHC: Francona discusses Plutko's start in 1-0 win

Lester turned in a solid outing of his own, limiting the Indians to one run over seven innings of work. The lone breakthrough against the lefty came courtesy of Michael Brantley, who delivered an RBI single to score Rajai Davis in the third inning as part of a 2-for-3 showing that extended the outfielder's hitting streak to a dozen games.

Two batters prior to Brantley's single, it was Plutko's well-executed sacrifice bunt that moved Davis into scoring position.

Video: CLE@CHC: Brantley singles to center and plates Davis

"As soon as I got that bunt down in the third," Plutko said, "I felt like a lot more calm and everything kind of was a lot better. But I was really nervous to hit. So I think that was a large part of [the early jitters]."

The groundout by Lester to end the second was the first of 13 consecutive batters retired by Plutko, who held the Cubs to an 0-for-17 showing overall in his first six frames. That run ended in the seventh, when Anthony Rizzo ripped an elevated slider into the right-field corner for a leadoff double.

Video: CLE@CHC: Rizzo breaks up no-no in 7th with a double

The pitcher did not realize he was throwing a no-hitter until the fifth inning, when he looked up at Wrigley's green center-field scoreboard as he walked to the plate to bat. When Rizzo broke up the bid, Plutko was not surprised.

"The last thing I thought I was going to do was throw a no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs," Plutko said. "That was not any pressure for me."

Plutko, who has replaced Josh Tomlin in the rotation, allowed two hits over his six-plus shutout innings, in which he struck out four and walked off the field after 85 pitches. As the pitcher approached the visitors' dugout, a collection of Cleveland fans clustered in the first few rows gave him a standing ovation.

From there, Francona approached the game like it was October. Miller covered five outs after taking over for Plutko and then Cody Allen registered a four-out save, preserving the Tribe's slim advantage and completing a sweep of the two-game stop on Chicago's North Side.

Video: CLE@CHC: Allen gets Baez to fly out for the save

For Plutko, it was a night he won't soon forget.

"I was telling my wife last night that this place is just crazy," he said. "Being here last night helped out a little bit, but it's completely different when you're the one out in the center of the diamond in the middle of Wrigley."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Miller Time: After Rizzo ended Plutko's no-hit bid, Willson Contreras followed with an infield single that put runners on the corners with no outs. That prompted Francona to hand the ball to Miller. First, Javier Baez bunted back to Miller, who threw out Rizzo at the plate. The relief ace then struck out Addison Russell and induced an inning-ending groundout from Jason Heyward to preserve Cleveland's 1-0 lead.

Video: CLE@CHC: Cubs challenge play at the plate in the 7th

Doubled up: Plutko's outing began with a six-pitch walk to Ian Happ, who then began heading to second on a fly ball down the left-field line from Kyle Schwarber. As Brantley made the catch in left, Happ slipped in his retreat to first. That gave the Indians left fielder time to fire a pinpoint throw to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who stepped on the bag for an unlikely double play to thwart a potential Cubs rally.

Video: CLE@CHC: Brantley doubles off Happ at first base

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
With runners on first and second and one out in the second inning, Russell drilled a first-pitch changeup from Plutko over center field for what looked like a potential extra-base hit. Davis sprinted to his right, jumped at the warning track and made the catch for a critical out, hitting the ivy-covered brick wall on his way down.

"Huge," Plutko said. "I mean, that could've blown the game wide open right there and we could be talking about a loss right now instead of a win. Raj played unbelievable defense."

Video: CLE@CHC: Davis makes an incredible catch in the ivy

HE SAID IT
"He threw the ball really well, extremely well. To no-hit us through six is pretty impressive. It's one of the ones you chalk up and hope that it somehow evens out down the road. That's all you can do." -- Lester, on Plutko

"Getting through that second inning, it's the old terrible adage of like a boxer getting bloodied and hitting the corner and woozy, but he doesn't fall down. That's kind of how I felt after the second. I got to catch my breath real quick before the third and I feel like everything kind of worked out well from there." -- Plutko

UP NEXT
Right-hander Mike Clevinger (3-1, 2.87 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Indians on Thursday, when Cleveland opens a four-game series against the Astros with a 6:10 p.m. ET tilt at Progressive Field. Clevinger faced Houston on Friday, taking the loss after giving up three runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings on the road. The Astros will counter with righty Charlie Morton (6-0, 1.94 ERA).

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Adam Plutko

Baseball lifer, ex-Tribe skipper Garcia dies

MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- During his days as the third-base coach for the Indians, Dave Garcia was an artist with a fungo bat. He would use the slender piece of lumber to test the limits of the Cleveland defenders like Buddy Bell, Duane Kuiper, Frank Duffy and Rick Manning.

"The Dead Enders," Manning said with a smile from the visiting broadcast booth at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. "That's what he nicknamed us. He was like our dad, really. He really was. He was one of the nicest men you'd ever meet in all of baseball. You never heard a bad word come out of his mouth."

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CHICAGO -- During his days as the third-base coach for the Indians, Dave Garcia was an artist with a fungo bat. He would use the slender piece of lumber to test the limits of the Cleveland defenders like Buddy Bell, Duane Kuiper, Frank Duffy and Rick Manning.

"The Dead Enders," Manning said with a smile from the visiting broadcast booth at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. "That's what he nicknamed us. He was like our dad, really. He really was. He was one of the nicest men you'd ever meet in all of baseball. You never heard a bad word come out of his mouth."

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Garcia, whose 65 years in professional baseball included a four-season tenure as the Indians' manager, died this week in San Diego at the age of 97. Garcia managed the Tribe from 1979-82. That was his second stint as a Major League manager, following parts of two seasons as the Angels' skipper from 1977-78.

Garcia also made a brief stop in the Indians' organization as a player more than three decades earlier. During a 15-year Minor League career, Garcia played 68 games as an infielder for the Indians' Class A affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Barons, in 1946.

Manning played for Garcia during his stint as a coach and manager for the Indians in the '70s and '80s, and then worked with him again during their time with the Brewers. Manning, who is now the color commentator for the Indians' television broadcasts, was saddened to learn of Garcia's passing.

"He was the best. He meant a lot to me and my career -- that's for sure," Manning said. "Guys back then used to hoot on me, because they'd say, 'He can't hit. He can't do anything.' But he said, 'He's playing center field. That's my guy. He's not going anywhere.' He was special. There's not many like him."

Tweet from @BDbaseball6: Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my friend Dave Garcia at age 97. What a remarkable man. A true baseball lifer. Friend to all. Taught me so much. He would post a .503 winning % over four seasons (���79-���82) as Tribe Manager. Here with Rick Manning in dugout talking ball. pic.twitter.com/KXOr1G87GY

A baseball lifer, the St. Louis native was also a Minor League manager for the Padres, Giants and Angels, as well as a coach for the Indians, Angels, Padres, Brewers and Rockies. Garcia was a longtime scout for the Giants, and he served as a special assignment scout for the Brewers and Royals. He worked in professional baseball during parts of eight decades, and he coached into his 80s.

Indians manager Terry Francona learned of Garcia's death prior to Wednesday's game against the Cubs. When Francona played for Milwaukee in 1989-90, Garcia was a member of the Brewers' staff.

"What a gentleman," Francona said. "He might be the nicest guy. Like, if you went and took a poll, he'd be at the top. My goodness. The year I was with the Brewers ... I don't know what title he had, but he'd hit me grounders every morning, every day. And every time, he'd go, 'What a nice play!' I'm like, 'Dang, man.' He was just so upbeat. It was like, 'Dang, I only caught a grounder,' but he was so nice."

"It's sad, but he lived such a great life," Garcia's grandson, Greg Garcia, an infielder for the Cardinals, said Tuesday. "I can't even count the amount of people that have come up to me and said, 'Your grandfather did this for me [or he] did that for me.' And it's not just baseball people. The cameraman in San Diego said my grandpa had an effect on him. The ticket lady said the same thing to my dad.

"That's the thing I'm most proud of being his grandson, the people he affected. It's something my entire family strives to do, affect people in a positive way. I'm very lucky."

Garcia took over as Indians manager on July 22, 1979, replacing Jeff Torborg. He led the Tribe to a 38-28 finish over the remainder of the season. Over his four years in Cleveland, Garcia compiled a 247-244 record as manager, a .503 winning percentage. Including his time in Anaheim, Garcia went 307-311 in his Major League managerial career.

"You learned a lot of baseball from him and he was so positive," Manning said. "He lived a great life -- 97 years old."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. MLB.com's David Adler contributed to this report.

Cleveland Indians

Guyer to DL as Plutko joins Indians' rotation

MLB.com @MLBastian

CHICAGO -- The Indians made the expected move of promoting starter Adam Plutko from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday to assume the fifth spot in the rotation, beginning with a start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was the other side of the transaction that came as a bit of a surprise.

In order to clear room on the active roster for Plutko, Cleveland placed outfielder Brandon Guyer on the 10-day disabled list with a left cervical (neck) strain. That represents the latest setback for the Tribe's injury-riddled outfield, which now has four of its Opening Day options on the shelf.

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CHICAGO -- The Indians made the expected move of promoting starter Adam Plutko from Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday to assume the fifth spot in the rotation, beginning with a start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was the other side of the transaction that came as a bit of a surprise.

In order to clear room on the active roster for Plutko, Cleveland placed outfielder Brandon Guyer on the 10-day disabled list with a left cervical (neck) strain. That represents the latest setback for the Tribe's injury-riddled outfield, which now has four of its Opening Day options on the shelf.

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Guyer injured his neck in the eighth inning against the Astros on Saturday, when he attempted to make a catch on a ball that carried into the stands in foul ground down the right-field line. As Guyer closed in on the wall, a fan reached for the ball and his arm came into contact with the back of the right fielder's head and neck.

"When he went into the stands the other day, he got like a forearm or something [to the neck]," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "So we checked him for concussions, but his neck, it was almost like whiplash-ish. He hasn't played since that. I think he could've if we had to, but we're trying to be mindful of it."

On the DL alongside Guyer are outfielders Bradley Zimmer (left rib contusion), Lonnie Chisenhall (right calf strain) and Tyler Naquin (left hamstring strain). Zimmer is on the road with the Indians, has resumed taking batting practice and might be ready for a return to games by the weekend. Chisenhall is currently in the early stages of a Minor League rehab with Triple-A Columbus. Naquin remains in Cleveland working through a rehab program.

With those four outfielders sidelined, Cleveland's outfield consists of Michael Brantley in left field, Greg Allen in center, Melky Cabrera in right and Rajai Davis serving as a backup for all three spots.

Plutko is taking the rotation spot vacated by veteran Josh Tomlin, who has moved to the bullpen.

Video: TOR@CLE: Plutko K's 6, gets the win in his 1st start

In seven starts this season for the Clippers, Plutko posted a 2.25 ERA with 35 strikeouts against nine walks in 44 innings. The right-hander also made a spot start for the Tribe in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Toronto on May 3, allowing three runs over 7 1/3 innings for his first Major League victory.

"The kid deserves a lot of credit," Francona said of Plutko, who underwent right hip surgery in October. "He had a really tough year last year numbers-wise, and then you find out the hip was bothering him. He gets that fixed and he's been pretty darn good. It kind of gets exciting. Finding good pitching is not easy."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Brandon Guyer, Adam Plutko