Indians again edge Reds behind Josh Tomlin, Travis Buck

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The Indians were 28-47 after 75 games last season.  To match that record in 2011, they’d have to lose 32 in a row.

Cleveland again topped Cincinnati by a run Saturday, winning 2-1, and will get a chance to go for a sweep in the battle of Ohio behind Carlos Carrasco on Sunday.

Impressive again was Josh Tomlin, who is now 9-for-9 in turning in quality starts after allowing one run over seven innings.  He has an incredible 0.82 WHIP in 59 2/3 innings.  Cliff Lee had the game’s best WHIP last year at barely over 1.00 — he allowed 213 hits+walks in 212 1/3 innings.  Tomlin has allowed 39 hits and 10 walks so far this year.

Travis Buck was the offensive hero for Cleveland.  The Indians need someone to step up in the DH slot with Travis Hafner down, and candidates Buck, Shelley Duncan and Austin Kearns had combined for one homer in 155 at-bats this season before Buck took Homer Bailey deep to give the Indians their only two runs today.

With the victory, the Indians moved to 28-15 this season.  No other AL team has fewer than 20 losses.

The Reds dropped to 25-21 by losing their fourth in a row and fell 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.