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Indians’ playoff positioning hurt by loss to Pirates

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians suffered a setback in their bid to host a first-round playoff series, losing 8-0 to Joe Musgrove and the major league-worst Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday night.

The Indians, who had their six-game winning streak snapped, fell two games behind AL Central leader Minnesota and one game behind the second-place Chicago White Sox. All three teams are playoff-bound, and the second-place team in the division will grab the fourth seed in the American League, allowing it to host its entire best-of-three wild-card series.

Cleveland could still grab the fourth seed with a win Sunday and a White Sox loss because the Indians hold the tiebreaker over Chicago.

Musgrove (1-5) earned his first victory in a year, allowing three hits while striking out 10 in a season-high seven innings. The right-hander did not allow a run in his final two outings, striking out 21 over 13 frames.

Rookie Ke’Bryan Hayes had five hits and Colin Moran drove in four runs for Pittsburgh.

Cleveland was shut out for the fifth time and did not push a runner past second base. Nick Tropeano and Dovydas Neverauskas finished off the five-hitter.

Hayes doubled three times and had two singles in five at-bats to extend his hitting streak to seven games. The third baseman scored three runs and is batting .370 (30 for 81) since making his major league debut on Sept. 1.

Right-hander Aaron Civale (4-6) gave up a career-high eight runs in four innings, including homers to Moran, Bryan Reynolds and Jose Osuna.

Moran, Osuna and Josh Bell had two hits apiece for the Pirates, who won for the third time in 19 interleague games.

MVP candidate Jose Ramirez went 1 for 4 for Cleveland, which had three walk-off victories in the previous four days. He has six homers and 18 RBIs in the last 11 games, raising his average to .288.

UP IN THE AIR

The Indians will start Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac in their initial playoff series, but acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said they haven’t decided on their first long reliever, if one is needed.

Rookie Triston McKenzie and Civale are the primary candidates.

“We would have to look at the matchups and see who the best pitcher is in that situation,” Alomar said.

DO-OVER

Derek Shelton was hired as the Pirates’ manager on Nov. 27, 2019, but hasn’t spent much time exploring the city because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m excited to actually see Pittsburgh next year,” he said. “Except for my apartment and the Walmart, I haven’t really been anywhere around town.”

Shelton spent the previous 15 seasons as a coach, all with AL teams.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP J.T. Brubaker (1-3, 4.46 ERA) makes his second start against Cleveland this season on Sunday. He gave up three runs in three innings on Aug. 18 but didn’t factor in the decision.

Indians: RHP Cal Quantrill (2-0, 2.17 ERA), a converted starter, will open a bullpen game to wrap up the regular season. RHP Adam Plutko is slated to work as a bulk reliever behind him.

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