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Small ball leads to critical run, 1-0 Indians win

Between Mike Clevinger's one-hit outing and Carlos Santana's three-hit performance at the plate, the Indians were able to claim the rubber match over the Royals on Sunday.

It was a mixed bag of results for the Indians when their Sunday matinee reached its culmination.

Despite winning 1-0 behind the scoreless effort of Mike Clevinger and another dominant showing from the bullpen, Cleveland lost Michael Brantley to a right ankle sprain at Kauffman Park in Kansas City, Mo.

The pitching staff combined for a one-hit shutout and pulled out the series win despite batting .208 (20-for-96) in the three contests.

Clevinger cruises

With runners at second and third and one out in the fourth, Clevinger was able to slither his way out of danger by setting down Jorge Soler and Jorge Bonifacio on strikeouts.

“I thought his stuff was good,” said manager Terry Francona to reporters. “You can tell he’s made a few adjustments at Triple-A with his delivery.”

Only five opposing runners reached base on a Salvador Perez double and four walks to pave way to a final line of 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 K (91 pitches, 50 strikes, 54.9%, four groundouts, three flyouts).

“His changeup was good. His breaking ball was good,” Francona said. “It gets you excited.”

Small ball pays dividends

After the Tribe bunted Santana to third and failed to manufacture a run in the first inning, manager Terry Francona opted to play small ball once more in the fifth.

Yan Gomes doubled and advanced to third on Abraham Almonte’s sac bunt before Santana singled up the middle to yield a 1-0 advantage, the only scoring in the ballgame.

“My plan is to try to think in the middle and try to make good contact,” said Santana. “I have to keep it going.”

Shaw, Miller and Allen combine for six strikeouts

Only four batted balls were put in play against Bryan Shaw, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen as the trio retired nine of the 10 hitters they faced to seal a one-run lead in the rubber match.

“I think [Shaw’s] stuff is so consistent,” Francona said. “[Kansas City] left the zone a couple times – that changes things. Now some of that could be the way he’s throwing, too.”

Shaw punched out four batters while Miller and Allen struck out one apiece.

“We’re certainly not on all cylinders,” said Francona. “It’s a heck of a lot better to win 1-0 than to lose 1-0.”

Brantley exits with right ankle sprain

An awkward landing on first base spelled an early end to Brantley’s afternoon as he was diagnosed with a sprained right ankle and is currently listed as day-to-day.

“It’s not the dreaded high ankle sprain,” Francona said. “He hit first hard. Hopefully it’s a day or two. That’s what [the medical staff] thinks now. I know tomorrow we’ll know a heck of a lot more.”

Central Division update

For the second day in a row, the Minnesota Twins (15-14) pitching staff fell victim to a double-digit outburst as they lost 17-6 to the Red Sox.

Chris Tillman fired five shutout frames to earn the win over the White Sox (15-15) in his first start of 2017.

Up next

The Indians will travel to Toronto before opening a three-game set with the Blue Jays on Monday at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre.

RHP Trevor Bauer (2-3, 7.67) is scheduled for his fifth start of the season on one week of rest after allowing seven runs on seven hits in four innings of work against Detroit.

RHP Marcus Stroman (2-3, 3.89) will also look to even his win-loss record after unraveling for five runs in three innings to the Yankees on Tuesday.

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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