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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 1:00 am

Encarnacion may play in Game 5

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Minus injured slugger Edwin Encarnacion, the Cleveland Indians have scored three runs the past two games.

They get one more chance to close out the New York Yankees.

Encarnacion remained out of Cleveland's lineup Monday night in Game 4 of its AL Division Series against New York. He's been sidelined since leaving Game 2 with a sprained right ankle last Friday.

Michael Brantley replaced Encarnacion at designated hitter again and went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts as the Indians committed a season-high four errors and lost 7-3, tying the series at two games apiece. A decisive Game 5 is tonight in Cleveland, with the winner advancing to play Houston in the AL Championship Series.

Prior to Game 4, manager Terry Francona said the team hoped Encarnacion would be able to pinch hit Monday. He never came off the bench.

Cleveland had a chance for a three-game sweep Sunday but lost 1-0 to the Yankees as Brantley went 0 for 2 with a walk.

Encarnacion wasn't even available in Game 3, Francona said. But the defending AL champions have chosen not to pursue replacing him on the active roster because that would make the three-time All-Star ineligible in the next round.

“I think we're making the right decision,” Francona said. “Because to not have Edwin – and it hurt us (Sunday) night – to just write him off if we can move on, that would be tough to do.”

Encarnacion batted .258 with 38 home runs and 107 RBI in his first season with the Indians this year. Cleveland signed him to a $60 million, three-year contract after he spent seven-plus seasons with Toronto.

“Obviously, you don't replace a guy like Edwin, but we have a fairly deep lineup. We have many other ways to create runs,” teammate Jason Kipnis said.

Jay Bruce batted in Encarnacion's cleanup spot in Game 3 and struck out all four times up, stranding three runners. Bruce, a big star in the first two games, was back in the No. 4 hole Monday and went 1 for 3 with a walk and a strikeout. He scored on Carlos Santana's two-run homer.

Brantley, who is 1 for 11 in the series, was moved up from seventh to sixth in the order. The two-time All-Star missed Cleveland's run to the World Series last year and only recently returned from an ankle ligament injury that kept him out for 50 games.