The Cleveland Guardians can clinch the American League Central title with a sweep of the Texas Rangers on Sunday in Arlington, Texas.
The Guardians (85-67), who have six straight wins, will get to celebrate if they take the final game of a three-game set against the Rangers (65-86).
Oscar Gonzalez led the offense for the Guardians on Saturday night, hitting his 10th and 11th home runs of the season. The two-homer evening was the outfielder’s second multi-homer game of the month.
Andres Gimenez gave the Guardians a lead they would not relinquish with a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning, his 17th of a breakout season for the 24-year-old.
Guardians right-hander Aaron Civale (2-6, 5.29 ERA) is expected to get the starting nod in the finale, his second since missing returning from a forearm issue. The 27-year-old tossed five innings of two-run ball in Chicago against the White Sox on Tuesday before settling for a no-decision.
This will mark Civale’s first outing of the season against the Rangers. He’s made two starts spanning 12 innings in his career against them, going 1-1 with a tidy 0.75 ERA. His most recent start against Texas was his final outing of the 2021 season on Oct. 3, when he hurled six scoreless frames while allowing just three hits and a walk against four strikeouts.
Countering Civale for Texas will be southpaw Cole Ragans (0-2, 5.40), who is scheduled to make his eighth major league start of 2022.
Ragans has split his season between the minors and the Rangers. He went 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA across eight starts with Triple-A Round Rock before making his big-league debut on Aug. 4 against the White Sox, when he gave up one unearned run in five innings.
Ragans has yet to pitch more than five innings in any of his seven MLB starts.
Marcus Semien continued a strong second half for the Rangers on Saturday, giving the club an early 1-0 lead with his 24th homer of the season. Semien has hit .275 with an .825 OPS since the All-Star break after struggling to begin his Rangers tenure.
Texas interim manager Tony Beasley lamented his team’s inability to produce runs despite getting traffic on the bases. The Rangers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Saturday.
“We haven’t been able to get a lot of timely hitting of late,” Beasley said. “Hopefully we can reverse that.”.
Between their victory and the Chicago White Sox’s loss to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, the Guardians’ magic number to win the Central fell to one.
“We all believe this is what we’re capable of this year, and it’s been fun to watch everyone jump on board,” said the Guardians’ Cal Quantrill (14-5), who was Saturday’s winning pitcher.
–Field Level Media