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Indians battle injuries, Tigers in rubber match

By Rich Shook, The Sports Xchange
Indians battle injuries, Tigers in rubber match
Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians take on the Detroit Tigers again Sunday. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

DETROIT -- Ohio? No, the Cleveland Indians outfield has been in the state of flux all season.

That nearly daily condition of mix and match for manager Terry Francona continued Saturday with the placement of outfielder Tyler Naquin on the disabled list. He was sent back to Cleveland for examination of a sore right hip.

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Outfielder Greg Allen has reported to the team but is not expected to be activated until Monday. Cleveland recalled right-hander Adam Plutko from Triple-A Columbus but travel complications delayed his arrival.

The Indians also needed another arm because starting right-hander Mike Clevinger was ill Friday and early Saturday and they didn't know how taxed the bullpen might be.

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Clevinger ended up tossing five innings but came out on the short end of a 2-1 score as Detroit banged him for a JaCoby Jones two-run home run in the third inning.

Blaine Hardy gave up three straight hits in the second but Cleveland never scored again.

The short-handed Indians visit the Tigers on Sunday in the rubber match of their three-game series.

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The outfield situation isn't as critical a problem as the bullpen was and that weak spot looks better today than it did a week ago. Whether outfield help is forthcoming is complicated.

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Cleveland has already lost Bradley Zimmer for the season with a right shoulder injury that required surgery. Lonnie Chisenhall has a right calf injury that may keep him out of the outfield for the rest of the year.

Francona can platoon Brandon Guyer and Melky Cabrera in right, he's set with Michael Brantley in left and can also split time in center with Rajai Davis and Allen, when he's activated.

Addition by trade or waiver is also a possibility but the team doesn't want to be overloaded with outfielders next year.

"They're trying," Francona said of team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff. "And I guess my view on it is, I see how hard they're trying, because I get the e-mails and I have the conversations.

"I also know they have to protect the health of the organization. So, if we make a trade, good. If we don't make a trade, good. That's how I feel. I feel like they've already helped us immensely.

"At some point, it falls on us in the uniform to get the job done. And, regardless of who's in our outfield, we're supposed to win. That's what we'll do."

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Cleveland ace right-hander Corey Kluber (12-6, 2.88 ERA) pitches on an extra day of rest Sunday.

Kluber beat the Tigers in his two starts against them this year, allowing two runs in 16 innings. He has a 10-7 career mark and 3.67 ERA against Detroit in 24 appearances (23 starts).

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (4-2, 3.97 ERA) makes his second post All-Star game start for Detroit, seeking his first win against Cleveland. Over his career, Zimmermann is 0-4 with a 10.57 ERA when facing the Indians.

This will be his seventh start against the Indians, whose only other appearance this season against Cleveland was cut off after two outs in the first when he was hit in the jaw by a line drive.

Detroit announced before Saturday's game it had claimed left-hander Josh Smoker, one-time No. 1 draft choice of Washington, off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates and assigned him to Triple-A Toledo.

The Tigers designated right-hander Warwick Saupold for assignment to clear a roster spot for Smoker.

"He's got a good arm, we know that," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But will he throw it over (the plate)? He's another arm down there."

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Detroit has a need for left-handed bullpen arms. It is down to one, Daniel Stumpf, and he's been mostly ineffective.

Jones had to come out of Saturday's game after five innings with a sore lower back. It had nothing to do with his stealing second standing up in the fifth.

"He should be fine," Gardenhire said. "I told him a different part of his anatomy would be sore if he doesn't slide the next time he steals second.

"He said it was the best jump he's ever had in his life."

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