10:52 p.m.-BULLPEN TROUBLES DOOM CLEVELAND INDIANS AGAINST HOUSTON ASTROS

CLEVELAND -- Bullpen issues can spoil otherwise solid pitching performance, and that certainly was the case for the Cleveland Indians against the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros at Progressive Field Friday night.

Despite being handed a two-run lead from starter Corey Kluber, the Indians’ bullpen fell apart in the top of the eighth inning, as the Astros plated four runs, and then, pushed across seven more in the top of the ninth on the way to an 11-2 victory.

With Friday’s loss to the Astros, the Indians dropped to 24-25 on the year and 13-11 at Progressive Field, but still maintained a lead over the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League Central Division standings.

The Twins played a late game Friday against the Mariners in Seattle.

The Astros improved to an AL West-leading 34-18, and are 18-7 away from Minute Maid Park on the season.

10:35 p.m.-ASTROS PLATE SEVEN IN TOP OF NINTH

CLEVELAND -- Bullpen issues continue to plague the Cleveland Indians.

After giving up four runs in the top of the eighth inning, the Indians’ relievers combined to allow seven runs in the top of the ninth, which led to an 11-2 deficit against the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros at Progressive Field.

Shortstop Carlos Correa drove in the first run with a double to right field, and after a hit batsman and single loaded the bases, designated hitter Evan Gattis pushed across two runs when his single drove in both Correa and left fielder Marwin Gonzalez.

Gattis came around to score when pinch hitter Jake Marisnick singled to center field, but the big blow was yet to come.

With two runners on, Indians reliever Josh Tomlin surrendered a three-run home run to the bleacher seats in left-center field to outfielder George Springer.

9:50 p.m.-ASTROS TAKE 3-2 LEAD OVER INDIANS

CLEVELAND -- The Houston Astros ran themselves out of a pair of innings in the early going of Friday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, but they hustled their way to a 4-2 lead in the top of the eighth.

Working against Indians left-handed reliever Andrew Miller at the start of the frame, Astros right fielder George Springer led off with a double to the wall in center field, and then, third baseman Alex Bregman needed just five pitches to draw a walk.

Second baseman Jose Altuve got the Astros on the scoreboard and even with the Indians at 2-2 with a double down the left-field line that brought around both Springer and Bregman.

After Altuve moved over to third base on a groundout from shortstop Carlos Correa, he came in to score the go-ahead run when left fielder Marwin Gonzalez dropped down a sacrifice bunt that Indians closer Cody Allen could not get to in time to flip the ball to catcher Yan Gomes for the out.

Later in the inning, Allen walked in Houston’s fourth run of the inning after surrendering a single and pegging designated hitter Evan Gattis with a 1-2 pitch.

9:21 p.m.-ANDREW MILLER GETS OUT OF BASES-LOADED JAM WITH DOUBLE PLAY

CLEVELAND -- The Houston Astros started to time up Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber, and when he gave up back-to-back singles to right field in the top of the seventh inning after a fielding error charged to third baseman Jose Ramirez, manager Terry Francona turned the game over to the bullpen, specifically left-hander Andrew Miller.

Miller needed just three pitches to get out of the bases-loaded jam, as he got pinch hitter J.D. Davis to ground a 1-1 pitch to Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, who initiated a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat in the seventh and preserve a 2-0 lead over the Astros.

Davis smoked the grounder to Lindor, but the two-time American League All-Star shortstop fielded the high-hopper cleanly and fired a throw over to Jason Kipnis at second base. After tagging the bag, Kipnis relayed a throw down to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion for the final out of the inning.

9:07 p.m.-INDIANS ADD ONTO LEAD OVER ASTROS

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians added onto their lead over the Houston Astros with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning at Progressive Field.

With first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, designated hitter Melky Cabrera and catcher Yan Gomes on with back-to-back-to-back singles to left field, left-center and again to left, respectively, second baseman Jason Kipnis hit an RBI fielder’s choice to first base.

Kipnis’ fielder’s choice, which erased Gomes, but drove in Encarnacion, gave the Indians a 2-0 lead over the reigning World Series Champion Astros.

8:50 p.m.-FRANCISCO LINDOR TURNS IN DEFENSIVE GEM

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor has made plenty of highlight-reel plays during his young career in Major League Baseball, and he added another one to the resume in the top of the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Progressive Field Friday night.

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve smashed a 1-0 pitch from Indians starter Corey Kluber into the hole at shortstop, but Lindor read the high hop, and despite having his right hand down on the ground, reached up with the glove and snared the ball.

Knowing that Altuve has an abundance of speed, especially when in full stride out of the batter’s box, Lindor scrambled to his feet and fired a throw over to Edwin Encarnacion at first base for the second out of the inning.

In 49 games this season, Lindor has registered 59 putouts and 132 assists against just eight errors in 199 total chances. Now in his fourth season with the Indians, Lindor has a .960 fielding percentage at the quarter mark of the year.

Additionally, Lindor has helped turn 32 double plays this season.

8:36 p.m.-COREY KLUBER MOVES PAST HALL OF FAMERS BOB LEMON, EARLY WYNN ON CLEVELAND INDIANS STRIKEOUTS LIST

CLEVELAND -- Corey Kluber moved into third place on the Cleveland Indians’ all-time strikeouts list in the top of the fifth inning of tonight’s game against the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros at Progressive Field.

With his strikeout of Astros catcher Max Stassi for the second out of the fifth inning, Kluber passed two members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Bob Lemon and Early Wynn, both of whom struck out 1,277 batters during their careers in Cleveland.

Now, only two pitchers in Indians history have registered more strikeouts than Kluber (1,278), Hall of Fame right-hander Bob Feller, who still holds the franchise record (2,581), and six-time American League All-Star “Sudden” Sam McDowell (2,159).

A two-time American League Cy Young Award winner (2014, 2017) and two-time AL All-Star (2016, 2017), Kluber entered tonight’s game against the Astros with a 7-2 record and 2.36 earned run average in 10 starts.

Tied for the most wins in Major League Baseball with seven victories, Kluber has thrown one complete game, and over 77.1 innings of work, has struck out 77 hitters against 56 hits, 10 walks and 21 runs allowed.

After an 8-2 win over the Indians Thursday night, the Astros hold a 3-1 lead in the regular-season series against Cleveland, but that one win came when Kluber was on the mound last weekend.

In Cleveland’s lone victory over the Astros, which came at Minute Maid Park in Houston last Saturday, Kluber struck out 10, walked none and allowed only two runs on a home run from Carlos Correa in the sixth inning.

Entering 2018, Kluber struck out at least 227 batters in each of the last four full seasons.

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Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber delivers a pitch to the plate against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Evan Habeeb

8:03 p.m.-INDIANS TAKE 1-0 LEAD OVER ASTROS

CLEVELAND -- After failing to push either of the two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the second inning, the Cleveland Indians made up for it against Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel in the bottom of the third at Progressive Field.

Third baseman Jose Ramirez smashed a 1-1 offering from Keuchel off the wall in left field, and his 15th two-bagger of the year drove in outfielder Michael Brantley and gave the Indians a 1-0 lead over the reigning World Series Champion Astros.

Brantley got the two-out rally started when he smashed a 2-2 pitch to right field for his 12th double of the season.

7:43 p.m.-INDIANS STRAND A PAIR OF RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians looked as though they had something going offensively in the bottom of the second inning, but after the first two runners reached base and got into scoring position, the bats went silent against Houston Astros starter Dallas Keuchel at Progressive Field.

After first baseman Edwin Encarnacion broke an 0-for-13 slump with a single to the wall in right field, he motored from first to third when designated hitter Melky Cabrera smoked a 1-1 pitch from Keuchel into the right-center field gap for a double.

However, catcher Yan Gomes and second baseman Jason Kipnis each swung and missed at strike three, and then, center fielder Rajai Davis grounded out to first base to end the threat and the inning.

7:20 p.m.-INDIANS TURN UNIQUE DOUBLE PLAY

CLEVELAND -- Strike-em-out-throw-em-out double plays are fairly common in baseball, even at the Major League level, but the Cleveland Indians turned a unique one against the Houston Astros in the top of the first inning at Progressive Field Friday night.

After right fielder George Springer opened the game with a single to right field, third baseman Alex Bregman fought his way through a nine-pitch at-bat against Indians starter Corey Kluber, only to take a called third strike on a 3-2 offering from the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.

More than halfway down the line at the time of the strikeout, Springer broke out of his sprint and came to a stop well short of second base, which allowed Indians infielder Jason Kipnis to apply the tag for the second out of the inning.

Kluber finished the inning by striking out Astros second baseman Jose Altuve swinging.

6:05 p.m.-COREY KLUBER, CLEVELAND INDIANS TAKE ON WORLD CHAMPION HOUSTON ASTROS TONIGHT ON WKYC

CLEVELAND -- A pair of American League Cy Young Award winners will be on the mound when the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros face off at Progressive Field in Cleveland tonight on WKYC, Channel 3 at 7 p.m.

The Indians will send two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, the league’s reigning award recipient, to the mound to do battle against Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who earned honor following the 2015 season after posting a 20-8 record with Houston.

This season, Kluber is 7-2 with a 2.36 earned run average in 10 starts. Kluber has thrown one complete game, and over 72.1 innings of work, has struck out 71 hitters against 51 hits, 10 walks and 21 runs allowed.

Despite having a 3.43 ERA over 63.0 innings of work, Keuchel is just 3-6 in his 10 starts, and like Kluber, has one complete game on his resume this season. Keuchel has scattered 55 hits and 17 walks over those 63.0 innings and given up only 25 runs, 24 of which have been earned.

Keuchel has registered 48 strikeouts against 17 walks allowed.

Currently, the Indians (24-24) hold the top spot in the American League Central Division and have a 1.5-game lead over the Minnesota Twins (21-24).

At 33-18, the Astros have the best record in the AL West Division, enjoy a three-game lead over the Seattle Mariners (29-20) and trail only the Boston Red Sox (34-16) for the best record in all of Major League Baseball.

After an 8-2 win over the Indians last night, the Astros hold a 3-1 lead in the regular-season series against Cleveland.

In Cleveland’s lone victory over the Astros, which came at Minute Maid Park in Houston last Saturday, Kluber struck out 10, walked none and allowed only two runs on a home run from Carlos Correa in the sixth inning.

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