|Indians eye second place in division in taking on Pirates|
The Cleveland Indians were sprinting at top speed before enduring an unexpected misstep with the regular-season finish line in reach.
The Indians (34-25) will try to regain their footing on Sunday afternoon when they conclude the 60-game truncated season by hosting the majors-worst Pittsburgh Pirates (19-40).
What's at stake for Cleveland after its six-game winning streak came to a halt following an 8-0 setback on Saturday?
Well, the American League Central title is no longer in play for the Indians, but they can capture second place in the division with a win on Sunday and a loss by the Chicago White Sox to the Cubs.
The division rivals would have identical records, but Cleveland would get the nod based on its 8-2 mark versus Chicago in the season series and host the No. 5 overall seed on Tuesday.
Should they remain behind the White Sox after Sunday, they would be locked into the seventh seed and will hit the road to face the owner of the No. 2 overall seed.
Got all that? Good.
"Who knows if we have to leave or stay at home?" Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "Wake me up when you know because we'll be in a hotel either way. Our (travel director) has the toughest job on the team. We're just trying to focus on winning the game."
Cleveland has its rotation set for its initial playoff series, with ace Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac in line to take the mound.
So with that in mind, right-hander Cal Quantrill (2-0, 2.17 ERA) will open a bullpen game for the Indians on Sunday. The 25-year-old has allowed just two hits and struck out six over seven scoreless innings in his last three appearances.
"We don't know how long he is going to go for because we don't want him to throw that many pitches. We only have (one) day off after that," Alomar said. "... We'll get most of our relievers a work day, and (Adam) Plutko will pick up the rest, I guess."
Quantrill is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in two career appearances (one start) versus the Pirates. He would be wise to keep a keen eye on rookie Ke'Bryan Hayes, who went 5-for-5 with three doubles on Saturday.
"I was thinking, I hadn't had five hits in a game since the first week or two of low A-ball," Hayes said. "This is really special for me."
Hayes, 23, is batting a robust .370 (30 for 81) since making his major league debut on Sept. 1.
Pittsburgh right-hander JT Brubaker (1-3, 4.46 ERA) will get the nod in the finale.
Brubaker has dropped back-to-back, hard-luck setbacks. The 26-year-old answered a one-run effort over 5 1/3 innings in a 1-0 loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 16 by surrendering two runs and striking out nine in 6 2/3 frames of a 5-0 defeat to the Cubs five days later.
Brubaker has yielded three runs or fewer in nine of his 10 appearances this season. He permitted three on as many hits in three innings of a no-decision in his lone career outing versus Cleveland on Aug. 18.
--Field Level Media