ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Josh Donaldson went hitless in in Cleveland debut, Edwin Encarnacion reached 30 homers for the seventh straight season and the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 on Tuesday night.
Cleveland lowered its magic number to three for a third straight AL Central title. Second-place Minnesota was hosting the New York Yankees.
Acquired from Toronto on Aug. 31, Donaldson went 0 for 4 in his first big league game since May 28, a layoff caused by a strained left calf. The 2015 AL MVP flied out to deep center and deep right, struck out and grounded into a forceout. The third baseman made a nifty backhand grab on C.J. Cron’s sixth-inning grounder.
Jose Ramirez moved from third to second, and second baseman Jason Kipnis moved to center.
Yan Gomes also homered and rookie Shane Bieber (10-3) struck out a career-high 11 in 6 2/3 innings, allowing three hits and three walks.
Tampa Bay had its franchise record 12-game home winning streak end and lost for just the fourth time in 21 games overall.
Gomes homered in the fifth and Encarnacion in the sixth against Tyler Glasnow (0-4), who allowed six hits in seven innings.
Encarnacion, Ramirez (37) and Francisco Lindor (34) are the fifth trio of Indians to reach 30 homers in the same season.
Bieber allowed three hits and three walks. Brad Hand relieved with two on and two outs in the seventh, walked pinch-hitter Matt Duffy, then fell behind Mallex Smith 3-0 before getting him to pop out on a full-count pitch.
Cody Allen pitched a one-hit ninth, completing a four-hitter for his 27th save in 32 chances.
.Tampa Bay’s Tommy Pham singled in the first and has a career-best 15-game hitting streak.
Rays manager Kevin Cash was ejected in the eighth for arguing a balk called on Vidal Nuno.
SETTING UP THE ACE
The Indians will skip 18-game winner Corey Kluber’s start this weekend to give him a couple extra days off to get lined up for the playoffs.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer (right fibula stress fracture) is to throw off a bullpen mound Wednesday. . RHP Cody Anderson (right elbow surgery) made 27 pitches over two-thirds of an inning for Double-A Akron against New Hampshire in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series.
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier (illness) was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game but was in the on-deck circle when the game ended. . RHP Jose Mujica had Tommy John surgery.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (16-8) starts Wednesday.
Rays: LHP Blake Snell (18-5) seeks to take over the big league lead in wins after going 5-7 last season. “It’s amazing how much better he’s gotten in one year,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.