|Indians seek emphatic sweep of Reds|
On the field, the Cleveland Indians can't stop winning -- they have won four in a row and nine of 11, and they're growing their American League Central lead on an almost daily basis.
They're certainly running away from the intrastate rival Cincinnati Reds, outscoring them 18-4 in the first two games of their series.
Off the field, it's a different story. And it's one the Indians hope doesn't lead to issues in the postseason, where they're looking to make another deep run.
The Indians easily took care of business for the second night in a row Tuesday, taking a six-run lead in the second inning and cruising to an 8-1 victory over the Reds behind ace Corey Kluber. The right-hander gave up one run over seven innings to improve to 15-6 for the season and 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his career against the Reds.
Now, the Inidians will send out rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (6-2, 4.24 ERA) on Wednesday to try to sweep the three-game series in Cincinnati. He's never faced the Reds before, but has this going for him: Since losing the first two games of the season series, the Indians' offense has outscored the Reds 37-8 while winning the last three.
But even as they coast toward the finish line and await the AL playoffs, the Indians must be wondering if they'll be 100 percent physically. They've already lost center fielder Leonys Martin, possibly for the rest of the season with a life-threatening bacterial infection, and now All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer has unexpectedly gone on the disabled list with a small stress fracture in his right fibula.
Bauer, 12-6 with a 2.22 ERA, was struck in the back of the right leg by a batted ball Saturday against the Chicago White Sox, but a postgame exam didn't find any issues. He was expected to make his next start as scheduled.
But after being reexamined, he was placed on the 10-day disabled list with no definite return date known. Manager Terry Francona told reporters Tuesday that Bauer will meet with Dr. Jason Genin, one of the team's physicians, to map out a rehabilitation program.
Francona doesn't want any of his other pitchers to try to think they have to make up for Bauer's absence.
"You have to do your job the best way you can ... that's how you handle something like that," Francona said. "That's why we preach (to) play the game the right way. Show up and play today's game because you don't know what's in store for tomorrow. Do the best you can, and (it's) next man up."
That next man up right now is Bieber, who will make only his 12th career start Wednesday. He's been impressive, pitching 6 2/3 shutout innings in his last start Friday against the White Sox, and allowing two runs in 12 1/3 innings over his last two outings.
Bieber will go against right-hander Robert Stephenson (0-1, 6.75), who will make his second start for the Reds this season and 21st in the majors after going 6-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his final seven starts for Triple-A Louisville.
Stephenson gave up three runs and three hits in four innings of an 8-0 Reds loss to the New York Mets last Wednesday. But the Reds organization likes him so much that the team is staying with a six-man rotation in part to see what he can do.
The last-place Reds, who looked to be turning around their season less than a month ago, dropped their third in a row and 10th in 14 games.
"We're running into a bit of a buzz saw," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We're in a rough patch right now but we'll come out of it. You go through these times and you just hope it's sooner rather than later."