Indians’ 2-0 ALDS lead comes down to pitching, offense

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Despite some late-season concerns over the state of their pitching staff, the Indians are on the cusp of advancing to the Championship Series after taking two consecutive victories against the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Corey Kluber dazzled in seven scoreless frames, granting the Red Sox six baserunners (three hits; three walks) and striking out seven in the first playoff start of his career. While the Red Sox looked flummoxed at the plate, wasting their only two-on, no-out opportunity against Kluber in the eighth, the Indians dug their heels in against Boston starter David Price.

Price exited after 3 1/3 innings and a three-run shot by Lonnie Chisenhall that all but doomed the Red Sox in their second loss of the series. John Farrell spun his carousel of relievers through 5 2/3 innings, spitting out Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Brad Ziegler, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel in hopes of restraining Cleveland’s offensive drive.

Instead, Barnes was dinged with a Jason Kipnis single in the fourth inning and later tag-teamed with Ziegler on Rajai Davis‘ RBI sac fly in the sixth. The seventh, eighth, and ninth innings passed with little fanfare on either side, and Boston never quite got the break they needed thanks to shutdown performances by Cleveland relievers Dan Otero and Bryan Shaw.

With the win, the Indians notched their ninth postseason shutout in franchise history, the first of its kind since Bartolo Colon and Bob Wickman hurled a combined 5-0 humdinger against the 116-win Mariners in the 2001 ALDS. They’ll go for the sweep against Boston on Sunday, when right-handers Josh Tomlin and Clay Buchholz take the mound at 4 PM EDT.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.