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Indians fall to Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on walk-off home run in 10th inning

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 1, 2015

The Indians fought back to force extra innings but lost on a walk-off home run in the 10th inning in a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays Tuesday night.

Trailing by a run in the top of the ninth, Yan Gomes hit his second home run of the night to tie it 3-3.

In the bottom of the 10th, though, Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins hit a two-run home run off of Bryan Shaw (3-3) to win it and snap a six-game winning streak for the Indians.

Michael Brantley also homered in the loss. Indians starter Cody Anderson threw six innings, allowed two runs on three hits and struck out two.

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Indians activate SP Gavin Floyd and IF Chris Johnson, call up RP Shawn Armstrong

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 1, 2015

As active rosters expanded from 25 players to 40 on Tuesday, the Indians activated starting pitcher Gavin Floyd and infielder Chris Johnson from the disabled list and promoted relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong from Triple-A Columbus.

Floyd, who will be making his Indians debut, has been rehabbing from surgery this spring after he re-fractured the olecranon bone in his throwing elbow. He signed a $4 million deal this offseason with the plans of being the Indians’ No. 4 starter but never got a chance to crack the rotation.

Indians manager Terry Francona said Floyd will come out of the bullpen, though the team will allow him to warm up as a starter.

“This gives him a chance to pitch in major-league games, which I think we all felt he deserved because of the effort he put in,” Francona said at that time. “I don’t think anybody thought it was a necessity that he starts games and gets deep right now. I think for what he’s been through, for him to pitch in major-league games will be a really, really good thing for him.”

Johnson has been on the disabled list with what the team believes might have been a spider bite that caused an infection and his hand to swell. Johnson played in a few games with Double-A Akron mostly in an effort to keep his timing at the plate after he got off to a hot start after being traded to Cleveland from Atlanta.

Armstrong this season has thrown only 2 2/3 innings in Cleveland, as he’s acted as depth at needed times in the bullpen. For Triple-A Columbus this season, he has a 2.36 ERA, 16 saves and 80 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings pitched.

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Indians beat Toronto Blue Jays 4-2, win sixth straight game

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 31, 2015

One of the front runners for the American League MVP award was up to bat representing the winning run, but closer Cody Allen and the Indians escaped with a 4-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Pillar and Ryan Goins each singled with one out, putting the tying run on base. Allen (28 saves) got Ben Revere to pop out in foul territory and then faced Josh Donaldson, ultimately striking him out with a curveball in the dirt to end the game.

This was the sixth straight win for the Indians (64-66), as they pull to within 4.5 games of the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot (Texas plays San Diego late Monday night).

Starting pitcher Danny Salazar (12-7) allowed two runs on six hits and strikeout 10 in seven innings.

The Indians, facing Blue Jays (74-57) ace David Price (13-5), took an early 1-0 lead. Jason Kipnis opened with a double (37th this season) and later scored on a double-play ball off the bat of Michael Brantley.

Trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, Carlos Santana walked and scored on a score-tying single by Ryan Raburn. Jerry Sands later gave the Indians the lead with an RBI single to left field. In the ninth, Lonnie Chisenhall singled home Yan Gomes to add an insurance run.

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UPDATE: Indians President Mark Shapiro joins Toronto Blue Jays front office

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 31, 2015

It had been widely reported that Indians President Mark Shapiro had been in discussions with the Toronto Blue Jays to join that organization in a similar role for roughly two weeks. And with the Indians traveling to Toronto Monday for a three-game series, it was clear that this week would be the most likely time to make an announcement, should Shapiro be leaving.

That time has now come, as the announcement has arrived that Shapiro is joining the Blue Jays as President and CEO, replacing Paul Beeston, who is reportedly retiring soon.

Shapiro, a two-time Sporting News Executive of the Year, was in his 24th year with the Indians organization. Most notably in that span, he served as General Manager for nine seasons (2002-2010) and the last five as President.

"Through my twenty four years as part of the Cleveland Indians, I have developed a deep emotional and civic attachment to the Indians organization and the Cleveland community," Shapiro said in a statement. "The root of those ties is in the personal relationships that my family and I have built. While weighing those bonds carefully and seriously, I feel the unique and compelling nature of the Blue Jays President/CEO position warranted my consideration. This position represents a unique opportunity for me and one that I felt was the right new challenge to undertake. With mixed emotions, I will assume the Toronto Blue Jays CEO position upon the conclusion of the 2015 season. As the Indians organization moves forward, I am confident the current leadership represents a strong foundation to field a championship caliber team moving forward. The relationships we have enjoyed here will be lifelong bonds and will ensure that I will always be a fan of the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Indians organization."

As GM in Cleveland, Shapiro oversaw the Indians’ rebuild following the success of the teams in the 90s, maneuvering between a young roster following the trades of several key names and ever-present salary cap restrictions. It included two 90-plus-win teams and most notably a run to the American League Championship Series in 2007, which ended bitterly in an ALCS loss to Terry Francona’s Boston Red Sox, the eventual World Series champions.

It is without question that for much of Shapiro’s 24 years with the Indians, he was one of the key orchestrators for what went on both on and off the field. Now, he is moving North of the border, and his tenure in Cleveland has come to an end.

Indians owner Paul Dolan, in a statement, thanked Shapiro for his work and also said that he will not be seeking an outside hire to fill the void that he is leaving.

"Given the person that Mark is, the significant leadership and values that he has brought to the organization and with everything he has helped us accomplish, it will be extremely difficult to see him leave," Dolan said. "However, I hope that this new challenge brings happiness and fulfillment for Mark and his family. As we move forward, I will not be seeking an external replacement for Mark and will continue to rely on the existing strong leadership group to guide us forward. Mark and I are confident that moving forward through this transition, we have a very strong foundation in place to build championship level success on and off the field."

This move does leave Francona open to using an opt-out clause in his contract, which gave him some leeway if Shapiro or Antonetti were at any point no longer with the organization. Francona, though, has said that the clause was included more-so if the team decided to go in a completely different direction without those two at the helm. He also said that he wouldn’t use this clause as leverage for another job, as that wasn’t it’s intended purpose.

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Indians 9, Angels 2: Sunday’s One Last Thing on the Indians gaining steam but not ground

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 30, 2015

The Indians hit another grand slam and completed a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with a 9-2 win Sunday afternoon.

Abraham Almonte hit the Indians’ second grand slam in as many days, and Josh Tomlin improved to 3-1 with another quality start.

Sunday’s One Last Thing: The Indians are certainly gaining steam, but they’re not gaining ground in the American League Wild Card race.

This was a key series for the Indians, a three-game set against one of the leading contenders for the second AL Wild Card spot. The Indians took care of their own business. The problem is that they also need help from some other teams, and they aren’t yet getting it.

Basically, this weekend, the Indians gained ground on a few of the Wild Card contenders, but not the right one.

As of this typing, the New York Yankees (72-57) own the first WC spot by a 4.5 game margin. The Texas Rangers (67-61) hold the second spot. The Minnesota Twins (67-63, 1 game back), Angels (65-65, 3 games back) and Tampa Bay Rays (64-66, 4 games back) are all ahead of the Indians.

After Sunday’s win, the Indians are 63-66 and, with the Rangers winning 4-0 in the eighth and about to complete a sweep of Baltimore, are about to go back to five games back of the postseason, exactly where they were entering Friday.

The Indians gained ground specifically on the Angels and Orioles, but not the Rangers. They began an important three-game set five games back, and they’re still five games back.

More: Indians owner Paul Dolan reportedly looking to add minority owner in effort to increase salaries; Mark Shapiro decision could come Monday 

It’s roughly the same predicament the Indians found themselves in 2013 entering September, which ended with them snagging the second Wild Card spot but falling to the Rays in the Wild Card Game.

The good news for fans is that this team is clearly playing better and with a better energy. It’s undeniable. After the trade deadline deals and especially after the Nick Swisher/Michael Bourn trade, the team has played as if a weight was lifted off its shoulders. The Indians are now winners of their past five and are 15-12 in August.

It’s an especially stark contrast from how the team was playing in April.

“Oh boy, there’s no getting around it. It was tough,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We were spinning our wheels, however you want to say it. We were frustrated, things weren't going the way we wanted them to. And the one thing was, even when we were frustrated, at least we were fighting to figure out why. Not that we always had the answers, but the more I felt like I’d sit down with the core group like Gomes and Brantley and Kip and those guys, I always came away feeling better, like we’re going to get better. And then after that day at the trade deadline when we met with all of those guys and then the younger guys, it just seemed like from that point on the energy’s been really good and consistent. That was something we had been fighting for all year and we weren’t getting it.”

But will it matter?

The Indians are playing better heading into a tough series with Toronto and the crucial month of September. A five-game deficit isn’t insurmountable. But it’s also not an easy task, especially with so many teams ahead of them. If one gets hot, a tough road just got tougher.

It’s something the Indians might not be able to afford in the final month of the season, better energy or not.

The Indians will have to add many more W’s than L’s in September. And they’ll eventually have to start watching that scoreboard, even if they say they haven’t yet.

“Absolutely not. One game at a time,” Brantley said. “You can't look too far ahead. If you look too far ahead, you start putting pressure on yourself and not playing good baseball. You've got to take one game for what it is—good, bad or indifferent—and the next day you have to do the same thing over and over. Then, once you get towards the end, then you can start looking a little bit. You can peek. Not look. Peek.”

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Indians grand again in 9-2 win against Los Angeles Angels to finish three-game sweep

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 30, 2015

The Indians hit another grand slam to break a game open and Josh Tomlin turned in a terrific outing to take down the Los Angeles Angels 9-2 and finish a three-game sweep.

The Indians (63-66) entered the fifth inning holding a modest 2-0 lead against Angels starter Jered Weaver (6-10). Michael Brantley singled and Carlos Santana followed with a double that fell after Angels (65-65) right fielder Kole Calhoun lost it in the sun, the second time an Angels outfielder lost a fly ball off Santana’s bat and let it drop.

Lonnie Chisenhall, in a similar situation as Saturday night, was intentionally walked to load the bases. In that Saturday night 8-3 win, Chisenhall was intentionally walked and followed by Yan Gomes, who crushed a grand slam to put the game away.

It happened again, only this time it was Abraham Almonte who came up with the second grand slam in as many days, pushing the Indians’ lead to 6-0.

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Yan Gomes' grand slam lifts Indians to 8-3 win against Los Angeles Angels

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 29, 2015

The Indians grounded the Los Angeles Angels late in the game for the second straight night in a 8-3 win Saturday at Progressive Field. This time, the major blow came against a former Indians teammate. And this time, it came with an explanation point.

The Indians (62-66) entered the eighth inning in a 3-3 tie when the Angels (65-64) called on relief pitcher Joe Smith. It didn’t turn out to be a good homecoming.

Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley each singled to open the inning. Carlos Santana then ripped a double to right field, scoring Lindor and giving the Indians a 4-3 lead. Smith intentionally walked Lonnie Chisenhall to bring up Yan Gomes, who has struggled mightily recently.

On Smith’s first pitch, Gomes crushed a grand slam to dead center field to blow the game open, sending the crowd at Progressive Field to a decibel level unreached in quite some time. It was Gomes’ first career grand slam, and it cleared the center-field wall with plenty of room to spare.

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Indians 3, Angels 1: Friday’s One Last Thing on another milestone for the starting rotation

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 29, 2015

The Indians scored three runs in the seventh inning to take down the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 Friday night.

Trevor Bauer threw eight innings, allowed one run and struck out seven to improve to 10-10 this season.

Friday’s One Last Thing: The Indians’ starting rotation now has four pitchers with at least 150 strikeouts this season, adding another line to their strong 2015 resume.

Bauer’s seven strikeouts put him at 152 for the season. He joined Corey Kluber (213 strikeouts), Carlos Carrasco (173) and Danny Salazar (162) above the 150-K plateau.

It’s the first time in club history (since 1901) the Indians have had four starters reach that mark.

More: Indians manager Terry Francona won't use the opt-out clause in his contract as leverage for another job.

It’s a consistency of K’s uncommon in baseball, even in today’s pitching-heavy world. Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar and Bauer are all in the top nine in the American League in strikeouts, and that’s in a league that includes Chris Sale, Chris Archer, David Price and Felix Hernandez.

“I’m kind of bringing up the rear,” Bauer said Friday night. “I have to look up to everybody else like, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll get there, too.’ No, it’s great, though. Obviously, you talk about a staff with really good stuff all around. We have four guys but the guy that steps in the fifth spot, whether it’s [Josh] Tomlin or Cody Anderson or some of the other guys we’ve had pitch, they’ve got pretty good stuff too and they don’t get talked about a whole lot. I think top-to-bottom our pitching has been really good. It’s fun to kind of compete with those guys. You have a good outing and then the next guy goes out there and tries to have a better outing. It breeds healthy competition.”

Kluber is the known ace. Carrasco and Salazar have taken steps forward (and some back) in the last 12 months. Bauer has been a hot-and-cold work in progress. Together, they’re missing bats at a very high rate.

The real positive sign in all of this: All four could be under team control through the 2020 season.

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Indians rally from quiet start to take down Los Angeles Angels 3-1

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 28, 2015

The Indians began a key three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Friday night, one of the leading teams in the crowded American League Wild Card race.

Although it seemed to take the Indians’ offense most of the night to show up, it finally did to support starting pitcher Trevor Bauer in a 3-1 win at Progressive Field.

The Indians entered Friday night five games out of the second Wild Card spot still needing to jump half a dozen teams. The Angels, which entered the night only a half-game out of Texas for the final spot in the post season, represent one of biggest hurdles.

It was a quiet night until the seventh inning, when the Indians (61-66) got into the Angles’ bullpen, but they eventually did their part in gaining some ground.

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Indians' Terry Francona won’t use opt-out clause as leverage for another job if Shapiro leaves

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 28, 2015

Terry Francona left ESPN’s studios to manage the Indians, in large part, due to his relationship with and confidence in General Manager Chris Antonetti and President Mark Shapiro.

With Fox Sports reporting recently that Shapiro is considering taking a similar role with the Toronto Blue Jays, that trio could be broken up. Francona on Friday confirmed to MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that he does have an opt-out clause in his contract that he could exercise if Shapiro or Antonetti were to leave.

Speaking with local media later, Francona said he wouldn’t use that to his advantage as leverage for another job if something were to happen, as that wasn’t the intent of the clause.

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