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Astros rout Indians, sweep way into ALCS

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The Indians briefly led 1-0 in Game Two of the ALDS on Saturday and they briefly led 1-0 in today’s Game 3 but, really, they were never in this series. Today the Astros bashed the Indians over the head beating them 11-3, sweeping the Division Series and punching their ticket to the ALCS.

George Springer hit two homers in this one. Postseason homers are nothing new for Springer, of course. He now has 10 homers in 27 career postseason games, which works out to a 60 home pace in the regular season. That’s nearly double his actual regular season rate. The guy just rises to the occasion.

Not rising to the occasion was Trevor Bauer, who had something of a meltdown in the seventh inning, which changed the course of what was, until then, a tight game.

With Cleveland leading 2-1 thanks to a sac fly and a Francisco Lindor homer, Tony Kemp led the frame off with a single. He then made it to second base when Bauer threw the ball away while throwing over to first. Springer then reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners and then Kemp came home on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at two.

Bauer once again shot himself in the foot when the next batter up, Alex Bregman, grounded back to the mound. Bauer tried to turn a double play that would’ve ended the inning, but his throw to Francisco Lindor at second was wide of the bag, preventing Lindor from getting the out at second. Lindor’s relay throw to first was late, leaving runners safe at first and second. Bauer, who by this point was visibly angry and rattled, then walked Yuli Gurriel to load the bases. Marwin Gonzalez came up next and looped a double into the left field corner to score two:

I have no idea how he did anything with a pitch so far upstairs, but he did. In any event, that knocked Bauer out of the game. It would take two more Indians pitchers — Andrew Miller and Cody Allen — to retire the final two Houston hitters, with no more damage being done.

At least until the next inning.

After a leadoff Tony Kemp strikeout, Springer hit his second dinger of the ballgame, after which the wheels completely fell off the Indians Express. It went like this:

  • Jose Altuve doubled;
  • Alex Bregman was intentionally walked;
  • A wild pitch sent Bregman and Altuve to second and third;
  • Yuli Gurriel was intentionally walked;
  • Marwin Gonzalez singled to center to score Altuve;
  • Evan Gattis struck out;
  • A Brad Hand wild pitch scored Bregman; and then . . .

Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer. The Indians were already dead before that homer, but it made the score 10-2 and served to drag their corpse down Carnegie Avenue. They’d score another run in the ninth on an Alex Bregman RBI single, and the Indians would score one in the ninth, but by then it was mere details.

With that Houston swept the series 3-0 and will now move on to the ALCS to face the winner of the Yankees-Red Sox series.

The loss ends the Indians season. It also ends the Chief Wahoo Era for the Indians, as they will not wear the logo on the field starting next season. Seeing as though they wore it today and got absolutely embarrassed, Indians fans should be pretty happy to see it go.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.