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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.

Rockies, Trevor Story agree on two-year, $27.5 million contract

Trevor Story
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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Rockies and shortstop Trevor Story have come to terms on a two-year, $27.5 million deal, buying out his two remaining years of arbitration eligibility.

Story, 27, and the Rockies did not agree on a salary before the deadline earlier this month. Story filed for $11.5 million while the team countered at $10.75 million. The average annual value of this deal — $13.75 million — puts him a little bit ahead this year and likely a little bit behind next year.

This past season in Colorado, Story hit .294/.363/.554 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases over 656 trips to the plate. He also continued to rank among the game’s best defensive shortstops. Per FanGraphs, Story’s 10.9 Wins Above Replacement over the last two seasons is fifth-best among shortstops (min. 1,000 PA) behind Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Marcus Semien.

With third baseman Nolan Arenado likely on his way out via trade, one wonders if the same fate awaits Story at some point over the next two seasons.