October 1, 2017 / 3:09 AM / in 10 months

Indians clinch top AL seed despite loss to White Sox

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians on Saturday lost a game but got a pretty good consolation prize: they won the homefield advantage for the American League portion of the postseason.

Kevan Smith had two hits and two RBIs and six Chicago pitchers combined on a three-hitter as the White Sox beat the Indians 2-1 at Progressive Field.

Despite the loss, which snapped their three-game winning streak, the Indians, with a record of 101-60, clinched the home-field advantage throughout the American League portion of the postseason by virtue of Houston’s loss to Boston earlier in the day.

“It was a fun day,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. “We were watching (the Houston-Boston) game before ours. This is a fun time of the year because other things are going on that relate to you.”

The Indians started ace Corey Kluber, but only as a tuneup for his start Thursday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series vs. the winner of Tuesday’s wild-card game between Minnesota and the New York Yankees.

“Obviously (winning the home-field advantage) means we had a good season,” Kluber said. “If we’re able to win our first series, we’d rather have four games at home than three. The fans are as excited as we are. Everybody’s looking forward to getting started on Thursday.”

Kluber pitched five innings, allowing one run on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks. Kluber lowered his major league-leading ERA to 2.25. He is the first Indians pitcher to lead the majors in ERA since Mike Garcia (2.36) in 1949.

Kluber said he was happy with the way his final regular season start went.

“I’m healthy, so that’s really ... the main goal is to get the work in and kind of feel like you’re in a good spot,” he said.

Chicago starter Carson Fulmer (3-1) pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks to get the win. Juan Minaya pitched the ninth to pick up his ninth save.

“Fulmer did a nice job,” said Chicago manager Rick Renteria. “He threw a lot of strikes, used his breaking ball effectively and had a good tempo. It was a nice outing against potentially the World Series champions.”

Mike Clevinger (12-6), in relief of Kluber, gave up one run on one hit in 1 1/3 innings and took the loss.

Clevinger was one of four relievers who followed Kluber to the mound. Francona also got 14 position players into the game, including outfielder Michael Brantley, who made his first appearance in a game in nearly two months.

“I wanted to get a lot of guys into the game, both pitchers and players,” Francona said. “We did the best we could.”

The White Sox broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning against Clevinger. With one out, Avisail Garcia walked and scored on Smith’s double into the right-center field gap.

Kluber was removed after five innings and 81 pitches. He gave up one run on six hits, with three strikeouts and no walks.

Chicago scored first, in the fourth inning, on an RBI single by Smith.

That snapped a streak in which Kluber had not allowed an earned run in 32 consecutive innings.

Fulmer held the Indians scoreless on two hits through four innings. With one out in the fifth, Yan Gomes got hit by a pitch.

Brantley, who was activated off the disabled list prior to the game, pinch hit for Giovanny Urshela. It was Brantley’s first at bat since Aug. 8. He had been on the DL since then with a sprained right ankle.

Brantley battled Fulmer in a 10-pitch at-bat that ended with a line-drive single to right field, moving Gomes to third.

“Brantley is a great hitter, but Fulmer gave him a good fight. He showed a lot of heart and determination on mound, and really executed his pitches,” Renteria said.

Gomes then scored Cleveland’s only run when Francisco Lindor grounded into a force out at second.

NOTES: Prior to the game the Indians activated OF Michael Brantley off the disabled list. Brantley had been on the DL since Aug. 9 with a right ankle sprain. ... Since July 19, the Indians’ record is 53-15. ... White Sox OF Nicky Delmonico has been sent back to Chicago for further tests on his left shoulder. Delmonico had to leave Friday’s game in the sixth inning after injuring the shoulder while diving for a ball in left field. ... The White Sox are in danger of becoming the first team in franchise history to not record a complete game. The Sox’s previous low in a season was three, set in 2014. ... RHP Chris Volstad (1-1, 4.73) will start for the White Sox Sunday in the last game of the season. It will be Volstad’s first career appearance against Cleveland.

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