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Indians bullpen paves way for doubleheader sweep

Five Tribe relievers combined to keep the Rangers at bay

MLB: Game Two-Texas Rangers at Cleveland Indians Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Five Cleveland Indians relievers combined for nine innings of work, limiting the Texas Rangers to a single run over that span as the Tribe swept the doubleheader with a 5-1 victory.

Up until the seventh inning, the Indians seemed to be following the same script from their afternoon game, relying on a José Ramírez homer to pick up an offense that has been MIA for nearly the entire three-game series. The Tribe finally started to show signs of life at the plate in the late innings, starting with a Franmil Reyes sac fly to score Jason Kipnis from third in the seventh.

Francisco Lindor decided to get in on the action in the eighth inning with a leadoff double, coming around to score when Carlos Santana doubled to the corner in right field. Santana crossed home plate one batter later on a Yasiel Puig single to left field. Had Puig not been thrown out trying to advance to second, he may have scored on José Ramírez’s ensuing double. But Kipnis did his part to keep the parade going, capping a three-run inning inning with an RBI double to score Ramírez and give the Tribe a comfortable lead heading into the ninth.

To his credit, Texas starter Lance Lynn emptied the tank against the Tribe, throwing 120 pitches and holding the Indians to one run over seven innings. He didn’t have the most creative game plan, relying almost exclusively on his four-seam fastball, but the Indians couldn’t seem to get a read on it, accounting for four hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts. It was when Lynn handed the ball to the Rangers’ bullpen that the Indians were able to extend their lead.

But Lynn was outdueled by the Indians’ bullpen, a group that was able to keep the Rangers in check for most of the game. They limited Texas to four hits and one run.

Aside from one hiccup, Terry Francona could not have scripted it better:

Tyler Clippard: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 K
Hunter Wood: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K
A.J. Cole: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 K
Óliver Pérez: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 K
Nick Wittgren: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K

Pérez was the weak link of the Indians’ bullpen, surrendering the Rangers’ lone run of the game via an eighth inning home run to Willie Calhoun.

The doubleheader sweep, coupled with the Twins’ 11-7 loss to the Braves earlier today, puts the Indians two games back of the AL Central division leader as they head to Minneapolis for what could be a decisive four-game series. Buckle up.