ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Austin Hedges and Bobby Bradley homered, Jose Ramirez drove in three runs and rookie Eli Morgan won his third straight start as the Cleveland Indians drubbed the Texas Rangers 9-4 on Friday night.
The Indians, playing the final series with the name they’ve used since 1915, clinched second place in the AL Central and must win their two remaining games to avoid their first losing record since 2012. The team will be called the Guardians starting next season.
Morgan (5-7) allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings on seven hits, including homers by Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Nathaniel Lowe. He allowed only one run over 12 innings in his previous two starts, beating the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s a great way to end the year,” said Morgan, the 252nd overall draft pick in 2017 following three seasons at Gonzaga.
Hedges homered in the third and Bradley in the fourth.
“We started to hit the ball the other way a little bit,” acting manager DeMarlo Hale of the Indians’ outburst for four runs in the third inning and five in the fourth. “We were just making solid contact.”
Jose Trevino hit a two-run homer in Texas’ ninth.
Ramirez had an RBI single in the third and a two-run single in the fourth. His 103 RBIs this season are two short of his career high. He also stole his 27th base of the year.
Texas rookie starter Spencer Howard (0-5) allowed eight runs, five earned, in 3 2/3 innings, throwing a season-high 73 pitches. Howard gave up both homers, five hits and three walks.
Staked to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, Howard was rocked for four runs in the third. He allowed the homer to Hedges, two singles, two walks, two stolen bases and a wild pitch with the bases loaded.
“I think the biggest thing is like a lot of our younger starters have had a really tough time of kind of righting the ship,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “That’s something I’ve hit a lot of them on in the offseason. The mental game is tough, man.”
Lowe had three hits. Kiner-Falefa’s homer was his first since Aug. 8.
Howard has lost three of his eight Texas starts since being acquired July 30 in the trade that sent No. 1 starter Kyle Gibson and closer Ian Kennedy to Philadelphia. His ERA with the Rangers is 9.70.
SHAW SETS CLUB RELIEF RECORD
Bryan Shaw’s scoreless eighth inning was his 457th relief appearance in six seasons with Cleveland to set the franchise record, breaking a tie with Cody Allen.
“Obviously it’s awesome,” said Shaw, who leads the American League in appearances this season with 80 at age 33. “Not only just to pass him but to be able to come back this year after the last couple of years.”
Shaw has 691 total appearances in the majors and insists he’s taking aim at Jesse Orosco’s record of 1,252. He’s done the math.
“It’s 70 games a year for eight (more) years,” Shaw said.
“God bless him,” Hale said.
Indians: OF/DH Franmil Reyes (neck stiffness) was out of the lineup for a second consecutive game. ... C Roberto Perez (knee) should catch Saturday or Sunday.
Kiner-Falefa is hitting .352 in his last 22 games ... The Rangers’ 12-15 September record was their best monthly mark this season. ... Cleveland placed INF Owen Miller placed on the bereavement/family medical emergency list and recalled RHP James Karinchak from Triple-A Columbus. Karinchak, making his first Indians appearance since Aug. 27, pitched a perfect seventh inning with one strikeout.
Indians rookie RHP Triston McKenzie (5-8, 4.81 ERA) struggled through his last two starts, allowing 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings on 14 hits and four walks.
Rangers RHP Jordan Lyles (9-13, 5.31) has allowed the major leagues’ most home runs (38) and the third-highest opponents batting average among qualifying starters (.284).
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