Scott Kazmir turned in a masterful performance Saturday night to keep the Cleveland Indians in the second wild card position. The Tribe hope Corey Kluber can continue his impressive run when they aim for a four-game series sweep against the lowly Houston Astros.
The Indians enter the day a half-game ahead of Texas for the second wild card spot. Cleveland is also a half-game behind Tampa Bay.
Following today's contest, six games will remain for the Indians - a two-game set at home against the White Sox and four at Minnesota.
"It's not going to be easy no matter who you're playing," said Indians center fielder Michael Bourn. "You got to have that intensity every day."
Kluber has certainly done his part to keep the Indians in the running for their first postseason berth since 2007 when they captured the AL Central. The right-hander is 3-0 over his last 10 starts and hasn't lost since June 27 at Baltimore. His last home defeat came May 21 versus Detroit.
In his most recent start, Tuesday at Kansas City, Kluber gave up six hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision. He's set to make his first career start and second career appearance against the Astros.
After four consecutive relief appearances, Erik Bedard rejoined Houston's rotation Monday against Cincinnati, but lasted only four innings in a 6-1 loss. The lefty is 2-2 with a 4.52 ERA in 12 starts against Cleveland.
Kazmir threw seven-plus shutout innings Saturday to lead the Indians to a 4-1 win. Kazmir (9-9) struck out 10 and gave up just four hits and a walk following a 1-5 stretch in his last seven starts.
Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer during a three-run first inning for the Indians.
Paul Clemens, in his fourth start since being called back up to the majors last month, took the loss. Clemens (4-6) gave up eight hits, four runs and three walks in 4 2/3 innings, striking out four.
The Astros have dropped eight in a row and are 51-104, three losses from tying the franchise record set last season.
"It's tough. You look at the schedule we had remaining and we were definitely excited coming into the back end of this season knowing we were playing teams fighting for their playoff lives and frankly put, we just haven't played well," said Astros manager Bo Porter.
The Indians won two of three from the Astros when the teams played at Houston in April. Houston entered the week with an 11-10 lead in the all-time series.