Indians look to complete four-game sweep of Astros
Clinging to the AL's second wild-card spot, the Cleveland Indians continue to take care of business against baseball's worst team.
Hoping to keep pace in the crowded playoff hunt, the Indians try to complete a four-game sweep of the visiting Houston Astros on Sunday.
Asdrubal Cabrera had three hits and Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer as Cleveland (85-70) posted its eighth win in 10 games, 4-1 on Saturday. The Indians remain one-half game behind wild card-leading Tampa Bay and one-half game ahead of third-place Texas with seven to play.
Saturday's crowd of 26,611 was the club's largest since 26,870 attended a 7-2 win over Minnesota on Aug. 24.
"There's nothing like that atmosphere," said Nick Swisher, hitting .357 with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last 15 games. "We've got to keep winning, but I'm telling you, man, when you have fan support like that it's so easy to get up for games. We're so happy everybody showed up and everybody had a great time."
Cleveland entered Saturday 14th among AL teams in attendance, ahead of only Tampa Bay.
"It was really welcome," said manager Terry Francona, who is trying to lead Cleveland to its first postseason appearance since 2007. "I think players probably appreciate that. There was a little extra energy tonight. This time of year that can't hurt anybody.
"When we win, we're fine, when we lose, you hope. It's not do or die. It's do, or it hurts."
The Indians have taken five straight from the Astros (51-104), who have been limited to 12 runs and a .132 average with runners in scoring position during a season-worst eight-game losing streak.
"Frankly put, we just haven't swung the bat well lately, and conversely, we haven't won many games," manager Bo Porter said.
The Astros are three losses away from matching the single-season franchise record, set last year. Rookie Jonathan Villar is mired in a 2-for-21 slump, and Jose Altuve is 1 for his last 16 on the road.
"Everyone here is still playing hard and nobody has given up," said Chris Carter, who went 3 for 4 with his team-leading 28th homer. "That's all you can ask for at this point of the season."
Houston will try to break out against Indians starter Corey Kluber (9-5, 3.62 ERA), who is looking to get back on track following Tuesday's shaky effort at Kansas City. The right-hander, who had won his first two starts since returning from a monthlong absence due to a sprained finger, gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in 4 2-3 innings.
Kluber threw four scoreless innings of relief and earned the win in a 19-6 victory at Houston on April 20, his only appearance in the series.
The Astros counter with Erik Bedard (4-11, 4.60), who is 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA in seven starts against the Indians dating to 2007. The left-hander allowed two runs in four innings in a 5-4 defeat April 21, but didn't get the decision.
Cabrera is 3 for 6 with a homer against Bedard since 2011, and Carlos Santana is 3 for 7 with a double. Santana, though, is 1 for his last 15.
After a couple weeks in the bullpen, Bedard returned to the rotation Monday against Cincinnati. He gave up four runs in as many innings in a 6-1 loss, dropping to 0-7 in 10 starts since the beginning of July.