Francisco Lindor
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Indians secure AL Central crown

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The Indians wrapped up the AL Central division with a 15-0 win over the Tigers on Saturday, marking their third consecutive division title since 2016. Mike Clevinger earned his 12th win of the season, turning in six innings of one-hit, five-strikeout ball as Cleveland’s offense worked their way to double digits on the scoreboard.

At the plate, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley kicked off an explosive first inning with back-to-back home runs. The two homers were enough to retire Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, who made a hasty exit from the mound after sustaining a bout of right knee inflammation. His replacement, lefty reliever Matt Hall, fared little better: by the end of the first inning, Edwin Encarnacion, Yandy Diaz, and Jason Kipnis had all scored on a combination of fielding errors and productive outs, while Roberto Perez topped the team’s six-run spread with an RBI single.

The Indians didn’t stop there. They overwhelmed the Tigers’ bullpen again in the second inning, returning with another five runs on Jose Ramirez’s RBI double, a pair of RBI hits from Encarnacion and Melky Cabrera, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, and Perez’s sac fly to gain an 11-0 advantage over Detroit.

All told, the Tigers cycled through seven pitchers in an attempt to stymie the Indians’ efforts. They didn’t catch a break until the fifth inning, by which point the Indians had already amassed 15 runs following Yonder Alonso‘s two-run homer and a run-scoring triple from Ramirez and single from Encarnacion. (Encarnacion, it should be said, made it through just four innings before departing with a right ankle sprain.) It was the largest run deficit the Tigers had seen all year, and the most runs they’d allowed since they weathered a 15-8 loss to the Twins in August.

Though the Indians secured the AL Central title in decisive fashion this weekend, each of the other five divisions have yet to see a clear winner emerge. The Red Sox currently lead the AL East with a league-best 101-47 record, while the Astros hold a narrow 2.5-game lead over the Athletics in the AL West, the Braves look like the favorites to wrap up the NL East, the Cubs continue to outpace the Brewers in the NL Central, and the Dodgers and Rockies remain tied in the NL West.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.