The playoffs have yet to start, but the Cleveland Indians have already suffered a setback regarding their postseason future.
The AL Central champion Indians won’t need to worry about playing for the league’s best record when they close out the regular season Sunday at Kansas City in Buddy Bell’s final game as Royals manager.
Cleveland (95-66) lost 4-3 to Kansas City on Saturday to guarantee that AL East champion Boston Red Sox (96-65) will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs after they beat Minnesota 6-4 on Saturday. The Red Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Indians and had the choice of which day they wanted their division series against the Los Angeles Angels to start.
Boston will open Wednesday, while Cleveland hosts the New York Yankees starting Thursday, meaning the Indians’ two top pitchers—C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona—won’t get two starts each based on the series schedule.
“We’ll play Thursday and we’re going to need four (starters),” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge.
“We were shooting to try to have the best record so we could have our choice. It didn’t work out. But our guys went after it. They played the way they always do. They get out there, they grind it out. They play the game with everything they’ve got.”
Victor Martinez went 3-for-4 with three RBIs on Saturday for the Indians, who have lost three of four games. Martinez could get the day off Sunday, but is hitting .309 (21-for-68) against the Royals this season.
Aaron Laffey (3-2, 4.87 ERA) will take the mound for the Indians on Sunday. The rookie allowed one run and four hits in 5 2-3 innings in the Indians’ 4-3, 12-inning victory at Seattle on Tuesday.
The left-hander, who could earn a spot on Cleveland’s playoff roster as a long man out of the bullpen, is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in two starts against the Royals this season.
Joey Gathright singled home the winning run in the eighth inning on Saturday for Kansas City, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Royals (69-92), who will finish last in the Central for a fourth straight season, look to send Bell out a winner. Bell, who was ejected Saturday night for arguing a call, announced earlier in the year that he will resign after nearly three seasons of guiding the club.
Bell will become a senior advisor to Royals general manager Dayton Moore.
“Things are OK, but it’s still not where it needs to be in terms of where all the real solid organizations are. I’m going to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to that,” Bell told the team’s official Web site.
Luke Hochevar (0-0, 0.93), a 24-year-old right-hander, will make his first major league start for the Royals on Sunday. Hochevar, the top overall draft pick in 2006, has allowed two runs—one earned—in 9 2-3 innings of relief this season.