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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.

Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season

Kopech has opted out
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Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.

The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”

Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.

Now, however, Kopech has opted out.