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Indians continue march toward third Central Division title

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The Indians continued their romp to a third straight Central Division title, taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox before completing a three-game sweep of intrastate rival Cincinnati to begin the week.

The sweep, Cleveland’s first over the Reds since 2015, gave the Indians a 12-game lead in the division and a five-game winning streak through Thursday.

Though the Indians continued to roll, there was plenty of bad news along the way.

For starters, they finally got a diagnosis on newly acquired center fielder Leonys Martin -- and it wasn’t good. He has been hospitalized with a bacterial infection that was attacking his organs and threatening his life.

Martin could be in the hospital for weeks to come, so his return to the baseball field before the season is complete is unlikely.

Cleveland is also without clean-up hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who is on the disabled list with a right hand injury that has lingered since he was hit by a pitch on the final game prior to the All-Star break.

Perhaps the biggest blow the Indians sustained was the loss of right-hander Trevor Bauer, an AL Cy Young Award candidate who is in the midst of the finest season of this career.

Bauer was struck on the lower right leg by a line drive last Sunday against the White Sox, and though X-rays were originally negative, a stress fracture was revealed upon his return to Cleveland to be examined by team doctors.

Bauer could miss up to a month, which all but takes him out of the Cy Young conversation, but would give him time to return to the rotation for the postseason run.

If there are any setbacks and Bauer is not able to make it back, it would be a serious blow to the Indians, who employ three of the majors‘ top three starting pitchers in himself, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.

The Indians begin a three-game series against Baltimore on Friday at Progressive Field, celebrating all-time home run leader Jim Thome -- and newly inducted Hall of Famer -- over the first two games of the series.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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