Eighteen final thoughts after the Indians' end a 10-game road trip 5-5 with another big victory in Fenway Park.
1. Indians manager Terry Francona told right-hander Cody Allen he was going back out for the 11th inning if the Tribe took the lead in the top half. If not, Francona was bringing in right-hander Carlos Carrasco.
2. As fans shudder at that thought, they have to be even more grateful for Nick Swisher’s game-winning, 11th-inning home run, and also for the fact that Allen threw only 12 pitches in the 10th.
3. “I would have had to tackle him,” Francona said of Allen. “With the lead I would have had to drag him out of there.”
4. Allen admitted afterward he wanted to stay in. “It was a big ballgame and it would be nice to get a split,” he said. “I had a quick first inning, I could give our bullpen some length. There’s no telling, it may go 16 innings and we need every inning we can get.”
5. Allen called ending the four-game series with two victories “huge.” “We didn’t play very good baseball for four days, Kansas City and the first two here,” he said. “Being able to pull out two big wins yesterday and today, that’s a great way to end a road trip.”
6. The Indians carry an 0-for-20 streak with runners in scoring position back home, which dates back to Friday night. On Sunday they were 0 for 5 and left 10 men on base. They left 35 men on base in the series, 23 in the last two games.
7. But Francona found a lot to like Sunday. “There was so much good pitching on both sides, you’re fortunate on the road in extra innings. We did some really good things,” he said.
8. He pointed to Scott Atchison throwing strikes as the Indians escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth and a play second baseman Jason Kipnis made to help. John Axford walked the bases loaded with two out, but Atchison got Brock Holt to ground out to second. Kipnis charged Holt’s ball and threw a bullet to first base. Francona also mentioned Allen’s quick 10th and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski’s 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in the sixth and seventh
9. “Now we can regroup, try to maybe find a pitcher on the way back to Cleveland and see what we can do tomorrow,” Francona said.
10. The bullpen is obviously taxed, with Justin Masterson’s two-inning start Friday and extra innings not helping. But it managed to pitch 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in the two victories over the Red Sox and gave up only three hits.
11. To those cursing Axford today, Francona said this in his defense, “Starting out not commanding, then all of a sudden ramping it up and really throwing the ball well.” Part of that is Francona being loyal to his player. The other part was a reference to home plate umpire Chris Guccione’s calls. Asked if Axford was squeezed, Francona said, “I thought Gooch missed a couple pitches.”
12. He missed another when he called Michael Brantley out looking to lead off the eighth. Brantley got away with the most vehement argument I may have seen without getting ejected. If my lip reading was correct, Brantley told Guccione, “I know that ball was way off.” I guess he didn't curse.
13. Wondering why Francona had Mike Aviles pinch-hit for Lonnie Chisenhall in the 10th inning when he was hitting .371 to end the day? Left-hander Craig Breslow had walked two after two were out. But Chisenhall was 0 for his last 10 and was 0 for 3 against Breslow. Aviles was 2 for 6. Mike Napoli made a nice play to field Aviles’ roller and force Kipnis at second to end the threat.
14. “Mikie had swung the bat good against him in the past and Lonnie is going through a little stretch where he’s not seeing it quite as good as he’s been, which is realistic,” Francona said. “My goodness. But Lonnie will be right back in there tomorrow.”
15. Carlos Santana has raised his average to .190. The last time it was higher was April 11.
16. Did the Red Sox give Indians’ foes a game plan against right-hander Corey Kluber? Francona said the Red Sox laid off Kluber’s off-speed pitches and tried to attack his fastball.
17. “If Nava wasn’t in there it would have been pretty good,” Kluber said after walking left fielder Daniel Nava three times. “Sloppy might be a good way to explain it. They were really aggressive on fastballs early on, we tried to mix in some off-speed stuff later on. In the middle innings I did a good job, but four walks is way too many.”
18. Check out another installment of Tales from Tito on the Indians’ blog. This one includes Francona’s story about a 10-game road trip with his dad when he was 11½ and the “thrashing” he took for selling his father’s Brewers teammates’ game-day bats.