CLEVELAND -- Behind a stellar effort from starting pitcher Corey Kluber, the Cleveland Indians locked up a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the Tribe’s offense came alive with a big inning, starter Josh Tomlin will be skipped in the rotation and the Cleveland Browns prepare for the preseason finale tonight at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Here is a look at the top Cleveland sports headlines for Thursday, September 1, 2016.
KLUBER FANS 11 IN INDIANS WIN
Kluber struck out a season-best 11 batters over eight innings of work and paced the team to an 8-4 win over the Twins at Progressive Field Wednesday night.
Kluber tossed just 109 pitches against the Twins, 72 of which were strikes. Despite allowing two home runs, Kluber gave up just three earned runs with the 11 strikeouts against a pair of walks in the win, his 15th on the season, seventh straight overall and sixth in six August starts.
With the win over the Twins (49-84), the Indians (76-56) maintained their 4.5-game lead over the Detroit Tigers for first place in the American League Central Division standings.
OFFENSE SUPPORTS KLUBER’S EFFORTS
Unlike many of his starts early in the season, Kluber got plenty of run support from an offense that has struggled over the last week.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead over the Twins in the bottom of the second inning when outfielder Abraham Almonte doubled to left field and drove in first baseman Mike Napoli, who led off the frame with a single to left-center and moved over to second base when third baseman Jose Ramirez singled to center.
After the Twins tied the game in the top of the third inning, the Indians got a go-ahead run from designated hitter Carlos Santana, who belted a 414-foot home run to center field with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Santana has smacked a career-best 28 home runs this season.
The Indians broke the game open when they plated five runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning.
Catcher Roberto Perez led off with a home run to center field. Then, after second baseman Jason Kipnis and Napoli bookended a single from shortstop Francisco Lindor with walks, the latter of which ran Minnesota starter Pat Dean from the game, Santana delivered an RBI single to right field.
Ramirez followed with a double to right field that plated both Lindor and Napoli, and pinch hitter Lonnie Chisenhall drove in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center.
The Indians scored their eighth and final run of the game when Kipnis drove in center fielder Rajai Davis with a sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the eighth inning. Davis smashed a one-out double to left-center field and stole third base ahead of the sacrifice fly.
INDIANS TO SKIP TOMLIN
Due to his recent struggles, the Indians will skip Tomlin on their next turn through the pitching rotation, according to multiple media reports.
Tomlin lasted just 1.2 innings in Tuesday night’s 5-4 win over the Twins at Progressive Field. Against 12 Minnesota batters, Tomlin allowed seven hits, including one home run, and four runs, all of which were earned.
In six August starts, Tomlin posted an 0-5 record with an 11.48 earned run average. Despite striking out 21 hitters against just six walks allowed over 26.2 innings of work, Tomlin surrendered 46 hits, including a team-high 10 home runs, as well as 35 runs, 34 of which were earned, in August.
Tomlin made it out of the fifth inning in just one of those six August starts.
On the year, Tomlin is 11-8 with a 4.89 ERA in his 25 starts. Over 147.1 innings of work, Tomlin has allowed 166 hits, 80 earned runs and a team-high 35 home runs despite having a better than 5-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Tomlin carried a stellar 11-3 record and 3.43 ERA into August.
RG3 ANXIOUS TO CONTINUE WORK WITH RECEIVERS
By announcing the starters would play in part of tonight’s preseason finale against the Chicago Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium, Browns coach Hue Jackson broke with the tradition of resting the first-team players for the regular-season debut.
And by doing so, Jackson gives the Browns’ first-team offense and defense, both of whom struggled against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Friday night, an opportunity to get in another live-game environment to hone their respective crafts.
“It is just about getting in-game live reps with guys,” quarterback Robert Griffin III said. “You have an opportunity to read their body language and their speed on the field on game day. It’s a little different than practice, but honestly, you just have to go out and trust them. That is the thing that I truly believe in. You have to trust the guys around you. Otherwise, you won’t be successful.
“I trust those wide outs. I trust the line. I trust the backs. It is about 11 guys being on the same page. We are getting to the point where we are getting that, and we have to get it more consistently. That is why you go through all these practices and training camp and preseason games so that when the season rolls around, everything is good.”