Indians top Astros to maintain lead as the AL’s second Wild Card

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The Indians entered tonight’s action with a half-game lead over the Rangers for the second Wild Card in the American League. The two teams have been trending in opposite directions, with the Rangers having lost nine of their last ten contests, while the Indians have won seven of their last nine. The Tribe sent lefty Scott Kazmir to the hill tonight to help defend their lead and bolster their post-season hopes.

Kazmir received some early run support, scoring three times in the first inning against Astros starter Lucas Harrell thanks to a Jason Kipnis sacrifice fly and a two-run home run by Michael Brantley. Lonnie Chisenhall added another run in the fourth inning with an RBI single.

Kazmir held the light-hitting Astros scoreless over seven innings of work, allowing a meager three hits and walking one while striking out ten. He lowered his ERA to 4.14 in the effort and logged his third multi-strikeout performance of the season. He was pulled in the eighth after allowing a lead-off double to L.J. Hoes. Cody Allen relieved Kazmir and ended the eighth without any damage. In the ninth, reliever Joe Smith allowed a two-out solo home run to Astros slugger Chris Carter to mar the shutout, but was able to eventually record the 27th out to wrap up the 4-1 victory.

The victory moves the Indians to 85-70 and will finish the night no worse than a half-game up on the Rangers, who are currently leading the Royals 3-0 as of this writing.

Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto reportedly asks to be traded

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Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio is reporting that Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has requested a trade out of Miami. Jon Heyman is characterizing it as Realmuto telling the team that he “wouldn’t mind” a trade.

Either way, Realmuto has no power to force a trade. This isn’t the NBA or something. Still, it’s evidence of just how dreary a prospect remaining in Miami is for Marlins veterans in the wake of trades that sent Giancarlo Stanton to New York, Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis.

Realmuto, who will turn 27 just before the 2018 season, hit .278/.332/.451 with 17 homers, 65 RBI, and eight steals over 141 games this past season. He only has three years of service time and is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. He made just $562K in the 2017 and will get a big raise this year, but he’s still going to be underpaid based on his production. If the Marlins wanted to trade him, they’d get a nice return. Why they would want to trade him, I have no idea.

Expect more of this sort of thing as the Marlins slash payroll and make it clear that their immediate priorities are more about saving money and less about winning baseball games. Which may or may not be a valid goal for the team’s new owners, but is certainly a letdown for baseball players and fans.