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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.

Nick Pivetta to rejoin Phillies’ rotation

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Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Nick Pivetta will rejoin the Phillies’ rotation, starting Tuesday’s series opener at home against the Cardinals. Vince Velasquez will remain in the bullpen.

Pivetta, 26, allowed 17 earned runs on 31 hits and eight walks with 16 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings across his first four starts of the season. The performance resulted in a demotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In six starts there, Pivetta had a much better 3.41 ERA with a 50/20 K/BB ratio in 37 innings of work.

Velasquez, 26, was solid as a starter, posting a 3.99 ERA across six starts. However, he averaged under five innings and 92 pitches per start. The right-hander tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen on Friday against the Brewers but was torched for four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Sunday. Mixed results, to say the least. The Phillies are trying to do what they can with their bullpen, currently missing David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and Vìctor Arano.