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Indians activate RP Tommy Hunter from DL, DFA RP Ross Detwiler

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 29, 2016

The Indians on Friday activated relief pitcher Tommy Hunter from the 15-day disabled list and designated left-handed reliever Ross Detwiler for assignment.

Hunter signed with the Indians this winter but started the season on the disabled list while rehabbing from core muscle surgery. He pitched nine innings for Triple-A Columbus, owning a 1.00 ERA with four strikeouts and no walks.

Hunter, a hard-throwing right-hander, has worked exclusively out of the bullpen since 2013 with the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago Cubs. Last year, he had a 4.18 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings pitched. Hunter was rock solid in 2013 and 2014 for Baltimore, posting ERAs of 2.81 and 2.97, respectively. As a reliever, Hunter owns a career 3.28 ERA.

Last season, per FanGraphs, Hunter’s fastball had an average velocity of 96.4 mph, the 13th fastest among qualified relievers. It also makes him the hardest-throwing member of the Indians’ bullpen. Zach McAllister had the highest ranking among Indians pitchers last season, as his 94.9 mph fastball put him 28th.

Detwiler came to Indians camp as a non-roster invitee and won a spot in the bullpen this spring. The Indians extended his delivery in an effort to erase a disastrous 2015 season. This year, Detwiler has a 5.79 ERA 4 2/3 innings pitched.

The Indians still have a left-hander in the bullpen, as Kyle Crockett was recalled from Triple-A this week when Cody Anderson was optioned down.

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Indians hold off Minnesota Twins in ninth to secure 6-5 win

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 28, 2016

For the first time in three nights, the Indians were able to hold off the Minnesota Twins.

With two outs in the ninth, Cody Allen got Joe Mauer to fly out with the tying run in scoring position to secure a 6-5 win at Target Field. The Twins had won the previous two games on walk-off hits.

Indians starter Josh Tomlin (3-0, 3.18 ERA) was tagged for three runs in the bottom of the first but limited the damage from there, allowing the Indians to eventually get to Twins starter Jose Berrios, who was making his major-league debut.

Trailing 3-2 in the fifth, the Indians finally pulled ahead with a four-run fifth. Tyler Paquin singled, Carlos Santana walked and Jason Kipnis doubled home the tying run to force Berrios’ exit from the game. Facing reliever Fernando Abad, the Indians continued to add on, getting runs across on a Francisco Lindor groundout and a sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley. Later, Mike Napoli singled to score Brantley to make it 6-3.

The Twins went on to make it a one-run game, but Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw and Allen pieced together 3 1/3 scoreless innings, a relief for a bullpen that as a whole has struggled as of late. For Allen, it was his seventh save of the season.

Brantley notched his first hit and stolen base of the season, going 1-for-3 with an RBI. Carlos Santana went 3-for-4 with a walk. Lindor, who had a two-run double in the third, finished 1-for-5 with three RBI.

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Indians option SP Cody Anderson to Triple-A, recall RP Kyle Crockett

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 27, 2016

The Indians on Wednesday announced that they have optioned starting pitcher Cody Anderson to Triple-A Columbus and recalled left-handed relief pitcher Kyle Crockett.

Anderson hasn’t been the same pitcher the Indians saw in spring training when they named him the No. 4 starter to begin the season. He’s struggled with his fastball command and hasn’t kept the ball down in the zone consistently enough, two things that led to his solid rookie year. Through four starts in 2016, he owns a 7.65 ERA and has allowed six home runs.

Due to upcoming off days, the Indians don’t need a fifth starter until May 7 against Kansas City. It’s conceivable that Anderson could be recalled prior to that game after getting a start at Triple-A to try and work out some of his early-season issues.

Crockett gives the Indians another left-hander in the bullpen to compliment Ross Detwiler. He has a 1.29 ERA with three strikeouts in seven innings pitched for Triple-A Columbus this season.

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Indians fall in walk-off fashion for second straight night, lose to Minnesota Twins 6-5

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 26, 2016

For the second straight game, a late home run brought the Indians back. And for the second straight game, the Indians eventually fell to the Minnesota Twins in walk-off fashion, this time by a score of 6-5 Tuesday night.

Trailing 5-4 and down to the last out in the top of the ninth inning, Mike Napoli drilled a solo home run to the second deck at Target Field.

In the bottom half of the ninth, though, the Twins got to Indians closer Cody Allen (0-2). Brian Dozier doubled and two batters later, Miguel Sano singled to bring home the winning run.  

Earlier, the Twins (7-14) roughed up starter Cody Anderson to the tune of five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. Anderson’s season ERA now stands at 7.65.

Jason Kipnis and Juan Uribe each hit solo home runs Tuesday night. It was Uribe’s first as a member of the Indians.

The Indians (9-9) fell to the Twins 4-3 on Monday night on Oswaldo Arcia’s walk-off home run off Zach McAllister in the bottom of the ninth.

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Indians fall to Minnesota Twins on walk-off home run 4-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 25, 2016

Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia crushed Zach McAllister’s fourth pitch of the ninth inning for a walk-off home run, and the Indians dropped their series-opening game 4-3 Monday night at Target Field.

The Indians (9-8) led 2-0 after Marlon Byrd’s RBI-single in the second and Jason Kipnis’ RBI-single in the fifth. In the bottom half of the fifth, things became unraveled for Indians starter Danny Salazar.

In that inning, the Indians had a couple close calls but couldn’t escape with the lead. With two outs, the Twins’ Danny Santana singled on a ball that Francisco Lindor couldn’t field cleanly and then was nearly picked-off by Salazar. The Indians challenged the ruling, but it was upheld. Salazar then balked trying to pick Santana off again. After two foul balls were nearly caught and Eduardo Nunez walked, Brian Dozier tied it with a two-RBI double.

The Indians called on Jeff Manship. Miguel Sano then fought off a pitch for a bloop single to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Salazar finished with three earned runs on three hits and four walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings pitched.

Aside from the ball he couldn’t field cleanly, Lindor made a trio of great plays at shortstop on Tuesday night, adding to his season highlight reel.

Yan Gomes later tied it with a solo home run to left-center field in the eighth inning, his third of the season.

Note: Walk-Off Thoughts will be written after every home game, every road game in which we can travel (all three series in Detroit, the remaining two series in Chicago and the one series in Cincinnati, with possibly 1-2 additional series added in) and the postseason.

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Indians place SP Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day DL, will be out 4-6 weeks; Michael Brantley activated

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 25, 2016
Carrasco

The Indians on Monday placed starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and activated outfielder Michael Brantley from the 15-day disabled list.

Carrasco is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Even with Carrasco headed to the DL, considering what could have been, this was good news for the Indians.

Carrasco had to exit Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers in the third inning after he suddenly fell to the ground while covering first base on a ground ball. He immediately grabbed for his left hamstring and had to be helped off the field. He was later carried back into the Indians’ clubhouse and trainer’s room area by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

It was possible that Carrasco had torn his hamstring instead of simply straining it, which would have sidelined the Indians’ No. 2 starter and Cy Young contender for a much longer period of time. The Indians could only wait for the MRI results in Cleveland.

After Sunday’s game, Indians manager Terry Francona said, “The hope is that it’s not terrible. I think when you see a guy go down like that, it’s not just something that grabbed at him.”

Trevor Bauer, who pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief on Sunday, could slide into Carrasco’s spot in the rotation for the time being. Due to off days, the Indians might not need a fifth starter until May 7.

Brantley has been rehabbing from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder. He originally had a timetable of return for around early May. He appeared to be ahead of schedule all spring until he felt soreness after two spring training games and had to be shut down.

Brantley is a vital part of the Indians’ lineup. Last season, Brantley hit .310 with an on-base percentage of .379, 15 home runs, a league-leading 45 doubles and 84 RBI. In 2014, Brantley was an MVP finalist.

As it turns out, Brantley is activated ahead of the Indians’ three-game road series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, the same ballpark in which he hurt his shoulder last September.

Carrasco’s stint on the DL also means the Indians don’t have to make a tougher decision regarding the active 25-man roster. Tyler Naquin or Cody Anderson could have been optioned to Triple-A, or a relief pitcher could have been designated for assignment to make room for Brantley.

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Indians 6, Tigers 3: Ryan Lewis’ 26 Walk-Off Thoughts on Carlos Carrasco’s injury, Bryan Shaw’s ring

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

Here are 26 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-3 win against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday that completed a three-game road sweep.

1. The Indians might have lost a lot more on Sunday than they won, which includes the 6-3 win and the completion of a three-game sweep of the Tigers. Carlos Carrasco, a Cy Young contender and one of the Indians’ biggest assets, suddenly fell trying to cover first base on a ground ball in the third inning. He immediately grabbed for his left hamstring in obvious pain and had to be helped off the field.

2. Per Indians manager Terry Francona, Carrasco will be heading to the disabled list and will get an MRI in Cleveland. Said Francona, “The hope is that it’s not terrible. I think when you see a guy go down like that, it’s not just something that grabbed at him. We’ll just wait for the MRI. We should get the results in the afternoon tomorrow.”

3. Carrasco having to be helped off the field and then basically carried to the clubhouse by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan will trump the fact that they won a game on Sunday. If Carrasco is headed for an extended disabled-list trip—and the odds of that are likely high enough to make Francona sick—a great deal of pressure will be put on the other pitchers in the starting rotation, namely Cody Anderson and, perhaps, Trevor Bauer.

4. The Indians have a few prized bulls, and Carrasco is one of them. Francona used the word “deflating.” That’s a good adjective for how he sounded after the game.

5. The Indians, due to upcoming off-days, might not need a fifth starter until May 7, so they could potentially use a four-man rotation until then. Either way, this could open a door for Bauer, who is a natural candidate to slide into Carrasco’s spot in the rotation.

6. Bauer did well on Sunday to throw 3 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs, but he pitched well enough and long enough to not turn a sudden injury into a pitching disaster, which happened to an extent to the Tigers when starter Shane Greene had to suddenly leave in the fourth. It was a weird game.

More: Former Indians SS, current Tigers 1B coach Omar Vizquel on Francisco Lindor's 'tremendous ability'

7. Said Francona, “Carlos goes down, that’s deflating, but Trevor came in and really did a good job. It’s easy for us to say, ‘Hey, stay ready because you’re going to get an opportunity,’ but to his credit, he has really stayed ready. For him to be able to throw 64 pitches and really keep the game right in check is a tribute to him. He’s kept himself in shape and his arm, he didn’t lose anything the whole time he was in there.”

8. Added Bauer, “It was unexpected, with what happened. Cookie was cruising right along and it was very unfortunate with what went down. Hopefully he's OK. That's what was on my mind was, 'I hope he's OK.' I came up in the clubhouse to check on him after I got out of that inning. I think that's the biggest thing. The team played really well today and hopefully Carlos is OK.”

9. Michael Brantley will be traveling to Minnesota and could be activated this upcoming week. The Indians were facing a tough decision, but Carrasco heading to the DL opens up a spot on the active 25-man roster.

10. Francona said prior to the game that things tend to just work out, speaking on that tough decision. Then Carrasco went down. It’s not exactly what he meant.

11. Then there was the bizarre eighth inning that basically called into question if love is allowed in baseball. In a 6-3 game, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus twice came out of the dugout to argue, as he was upset that Shaw had a wedding band on his left (glove) hand. The argument, apparently, was that Shaw was scuffing the baseball with it.

12. It’s a rubber wedding band that Shaw says he’s worn for more than two years.

13. Said Shaw, “I feel like he made his point the first time and obviously the umpires checked my ring, which it's a rubber ring. If you can find a way to scuff the ball with a rubber ring, more power to you. I haven't, yet. I've had it on for the last two and a half years and nobody's said a word about it from any team. I've pitched against them with it on for the past two and a half years. So, obviously, like I said, they seem to be struggling a little bit, so I think he's just trying to find something to nitpick about to try to throw us off.”

More: The Aviles family fight against 'the sicky bugs' and Adriana's trust in her parents

14. And, he’ll keep wearing it. Said Shaw, “He came out the second time and was kind of like, 'He's doing whatever.' It's like, 'Look, I'll take it off to make you happy. Go back to the dugout so we can finish the game.' I told him to go back to the dugout. I'll take it off, we'll finish the game and I'll wear it the next time I pitch, just like I always have for the past couple years. I'm not going to change anything. Obviously, nobody else has said anything. It hasn't affected anything. Whatever.”



15. Francona wasn’t entirely pleased that Ausmus came out a second time demanding Shaw take it off after already voicing his argument with the umps.

16. Said Francona, “He has that wedding ring on his glove hand and I think they were saying that he was scuffing the ball, but his wedding ring is rubber. I understand it, I just thought after they OK’d it, I thought it was a bit much coming out, delaying the game. I didn’t think that was completely fair.”

17. It’s one of those times where a manager of a struggling team on the verge of being swept looked for a reason to throw off the opposing pitcher. The Indians didn’t seem to enjoy the gesture too much.

18. Also, if my lovely wife Alicia is reading this, I’d like to note that I, too, am wearing my wedding ring while typing this. I’ll be home in a few hours.

19. Shaw says the ring didn’t affect him at all, though he proceeded to record a strikeout and then walked two batters to load the bases and bring up the go-ahead run with two outs. That’s when the Indians went to Jeff Manship, and the Tigers went to Miguel Cabrera, who wasn’t in the starting lineup, as a pinch-hitter in what was the biggest at-bat of the game.

20. It ended up being more of a pro-wrestling scene than of baseball. Manship is running to the mound with Mike Aviles supposedly batting. Halfway through his jog, Cabrera comes out of the dugout with a helmet and bat, and Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize—Cabrera’s Walk-Up song—began playing over the PA at precisely the time he emerged. The Detroit crowd erupted.

21. With the game on the line, Manship didn’t know he’d be facing Miggy until he heard Biggie.

22. Said Manship, “It’s a fun experience. Coming in, I didn’t know really who was up to bat until half-way in. I thought Aviles was still in the game and then I could heard Miguel’s song playing, the fans were going insane. So it was fun, definitely an enjoyable experience.”

23. Manship attacked Cabrera with sliders, working the count to 3-2. He finally got him to pop out to Carlos Santana in foul territory. Cody Allen then recorded his sixth save of the season in the ninth.

24. Last season Manship emerged as a reliable option in the back-end of the Indians’ bullpen along with Allen, Shaw and Zach McAllister. He’s also been one of the better success stories in that time. It’s possible he hasn’t recorded a bigger out for the Indians, as bases loaded in a three-run game with Cabrera at the plate should be enough to turn an Indians fan’s stomach.

25. “Absolutely not,” Manship said when asked if he could envision this scenario a year ago. “I definitely enjoyed it today.”

26. For the Indians to sweep the Tigers in Detroit is a big step for them. It hasn’t happened since 2008. The Indians still don’t have Brantley. The Tigers have tormented them for several seasons. And yet, the Indians will have to hold their breath until getting the results from Carrasco’s MRI before feeling good about anything.

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Indians beat Detroit Tigers 6-3 but lose SP Carlos Carrasco to hamstring injury; DL stint coming

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

The Indians pulled off the sweep and beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 at Comerica Park on Sunday, but they were also delivered a blow that could affect the starting rotation for an extended period of time.

Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, a key piece to the Indians’ hopes this season and a Cy Young Award contender, was covering first on a ground ball in the third inning when he suddenly fell to the ground in obvious pain.

Carrasco immediately began grabbing for his left hamstring and eventually had to be helped off the field. He was then carried back into the Indians’ clubhouse and trainer’s room area by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

He threw 2 2/3 innings, gave up one hit and struck out two before exiting the game. Per Indians manager Terry Francona, Carrasco will be placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury, but the severity won’t be known until Monday after an MRI in Cleveland.

“The hope is that it’s not terrible,” Francona said. “I think when you see a guy go down like that, it’s not just something that grabbed at him.”

Trevor Bauer quickly warmed up and entered the game. Should Carrasco miss time, it’s possible Bauer re-enters the starting rotation in his place. In relief on Sunday, Bauer allowed two runs on four hits and a walk and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings pitched to pick up the win.

“With a lot of things happening, we won,” Francona said. “Carlos goes down, that’s deflating, but Trevor came in and really did a good job. It’s easy for us to say, ‘Hey, stay ready because you’re going to get an opportunity,’ but to his credit, he has really stayed ready. For him to be able to throw 64 pitches and really keep the game right in check is a tribute to him.”

In the eighth, with the Indians leading 6-3, a bizarre scene. With Bryan Shaw on the mound, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus twice was upset that Shaw had a rubber wedding band on his left (glove) hand. After coming out of the dugout a second time, Shaw proved he had put the band in his back pocket. Shaw proceeded to record a strikeout for the second out but then walked two hitters to load the bases with two outs in a 6-3 game.

“He has that wedding ring on his glove hand and I think they were saying that he was scuffing the ball, but his wedding ring is rubber,” Francona said. “I understand it, I just thought after they OK’d it, I thought it was a bit much coming out, delaying the game. I didn’t think that was completely fair.”

That allowed Miguel Cabrera, out of the starting lineup on Sunday, to pinch-hit representing the go-ahead run. The Indians countered by bringing in Jeff Manship, who worked to a full count and then got Cabrera to pop out to first basemen Carlos Santana in foul territory to end the inning.

“It’s a fun experience,” Manship said. “Coming in, I didn’t know really who was up to bat until half-way in. I thought [Mike] Aviles was still in the game and then I could hear Miguel’s song playing, the fans were going insane. So it was fun, definitely an enjoyable experience.”

Cody Allen then earned his sixth save of the season in the ninth to secure the three-game road sweep.

Offensively, the Indians took advantage of the Tigers being in a similar position after starting pitcher Shane Greene had to suddenly leave the game in the fourth inning with an injury. Drew VerHagen took over, and the Indians put together back-to-back three-run innings.

In the fourth, Jose Ramirez doubled home a run and scored on Marlon Byrd’s RBI-single. Tyler Naquin later added an RBI-triple to make it 3-0.

In the fifth, Ramirez and Byrd each added an RBI-single and Juan Uribe followed suit to make it 6-2 after Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos drove in two runs with a single in the bottom of the fourth against Bauer.

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Carlos Carrasco exits Sunday’s game with apparent left leg injury

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

Indians starting pitcher exited Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers in the third inning with an apparent left leg injury.

With one out in the third inning, Carrasco was covering first on a ground ball to first baseman Carlos Santana when he fell to the ground. He immediately began grabbing at his left leg and was helped off the field. He was later helped back into the Indians’ clubhouse and trainers room area by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan. Carrasco couldn’t put weight on the leg.

Trevor Bauer quickly warmed up and entered the game. Carrasco threw 2 2/3 innings, allowed no runs and one hit and struck out two.

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Indians 10, Tigers 1: Ryan Lewis’ 24 Walk-Off Thoughts on Francisco Lindor, Yan Gomes, Corey Kluber

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

Here are 24 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 10-1 win against the Detroit Tigers Saturday afternoon.

1. There are probably bigger storylines from Saturday’s win, like the Indians taking the first two games of the season against the Tigers or Corey Kluber actually getting run support, but Francisco Lindor is just way too much fun to watch.

2. Since Lindor really found a rhythm a couple of weeks after being called up last season, he’s been must-watch baseball. He’s just ridiculously good fielding his position.

3. In the fifth, Lindor made an out-stretched, diving stop and made the throw to take away a hit from Andrew Romine. Here’s a gif of the play courtesy of MLB.com.
 

Pitcher's best friend: https://t.co/5ZgyGhKyiw pic.twitter.com/5ap1C0hdN5

4. In the seventh, he topped it. Miguel Cabrera hit a rocket one-hopper right at him—Statcast had it at 107 mph. Lindor fielded it (mostly by just reacting), tumbled backward, got up, set his feet and threw out Cabrera from the hole.

5. “Are you freaking kidding me?” was uttered by a writer in the press box as it was happening. To react to a 107 mph liner is one thing. To play the hop is another. Again, thanks to MLB.com, here’s a gif.
 

Lindor is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/DirHYXVwLX

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Indians throttle Detroit Tigers 10-1; Yan Gomes drives in five, Corey Kluber throws eight innings

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 23, 2016

In a scene that seemingly has only happened the other way around in recent years, the Indians went up to Detroit and pummeled the Tigers 10-1 on Saturday at Comerica Park.

It was as complete of a win as the Indians have had this season, and it happened in a place in which little success has been found under Indians manager Terry Francona.

The Indians (8-7) immediately jumped out to a lead. Jason Kipnis singled and Francisco Lindor walked with one out against Tigers (8-8) starter Anibal Sanchez (2-2). Yan Gomes and Jose Ramirez each followed with RBI singles. Ramirez then effectively forced a third run in the inning on an attempted steal that ended up with Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia throwing the ball into center field, scoring Gomes.

Gomes’ day was far from done. He just about put the game away in the third inning when, with two runners on after singles by Lindor and Mike Napoli, he belted a three-run home run to left field, making it 6-0. Lonnie Chisenhall later tripled and scored on Rajai Davis’ single. Davis was then caught stealing, but doubles back-to-back doubles by Tyler Naquin and Carlos Santana, in the leadoff spot again Saturday, pushed the Indians’ lead to 8-0.

“Yeah, I thought it was good on a number of fronts,” Francona said of Gomes and the offense. “He swung the bat really good. We had a 3-0 lead and all the sudden, on one pitch, we spread it out. He took a really good swing. I thought a lot of guys had good at-bats today. Nap, where he had kind of been struggling this series, runner on second and he shoots a ball to right, just playing the game right and getting rewarded for it.”

In the seventh, Gomes added an RBI-double, bringing him a double away from the cycle and his RBI total to five. Davis then added an RBI-double to cap the Indians’ scoring.

It was more than enough for Indians starter Corey Kluber (1-3), who entered the game with three runs of support all season. Kluber allowed just one run on two hits and struck out 10 in eight innings pitched. And, for once, he pitched with a comfortable lead.

It was the second straight game the Indians held a dangerous Tigers lineup to one run after Josh Tomlin and the bullpen did so on Friday night. For Kluber, it was just nice to see actual run support.

"I would say it’s awesome, you go out and score three runs in the first, that’s a huge boost,” Kluber said. “But then they didn’t stop there. They poured it on for five more in the third and kept scoring the whole game.”

Defensively, Francisco Lindor put on a show. Lindor first made an out-stretched, diving play to throw out Andrew Romine in the fifth inning. Two innings later, Miguel Cabrera drilled a one-hopper to Lindor at 107 mph, per Statcast, that he corralled as he fell backward. He was able to get up, set his feet and make the throw in time.

Kluber joked that the ball caught Lindor. Francona said maybe he just couldn’t get out of the way. For Lindor, it was just a reaction.

“I had nowhere else to go,” Lindor said. “As soon as he hit it, usually you take one step back with your left leg or right leg so you can get around the ball, but I couldn't turn. It was quick and after that, I was like, well, I had to either keep it in front of me or find a way to catch the ball. I just threw the glove and it got me.”

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The Aviles family fight against ‘the sicky bugs’ and Adriana’s trust in her parents

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 23, 2016
Adriana

When they got the news, the tears came instantly.

Mike Aviles and his wife, Jessy, were walking down a hospital hallway in November for another appointment in an endless list of tests and check-ups and treatments. With them was Adriana, their little girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia last May. These had become familiar halls.

Adriana’s primary doctor had been trying to contact them all day. Finally, he found them in the hallway. That’s when Aviles and his wife heard the words they had been desperately waiting to hear since May: “She’s at zero.”

“Instantly, my wife started crying. I start crying,” Aviles said Saturday in the Tigers’ clubhouse in Detroit. “It was just like, my daughter is laughing and smiling, wondering why the tears were coming down our eyes. We had to explain to her why. She was so excited, so pumped.”

The Avileses have sheltered Adriana, now five-years-old, from all the details of what’s been happening to her cells. Even after that incredible news, Adriana still needed radiation. She still needed a bone marrow transplant. All this after roughly six months of constant treatment, tests and trips to the hospital.

They couldn’t explain everything to Adriana. Adriana trusted her parents. Her parents wanted to trade places with her.

“She literally confided in and trusted me and my wife more than anything. ‘I trust you, Mommy and Daddy. I know you guys are doing this to help me,’” Aviles said. “She also understood that if my wife or I could change places with her, we would. It made her happy to hear that. ‘You really would do that?’ ‘Yeah. When you get older, you’ll understand.’”

Adriana knew she was sick. But she didn’t know just how severe it was, or how bad it could have gotten.

“She knows enough about it. She knows she had Leukemia. She knows she had sicky bugs in her blood,” Aviles said. “She knows how to talk about it, but she doesn’t know the extent, the severity of what cancer can do. In all honesty, I don’t think a kid should know. At that age, their innocence is previous and I think they should keep it as long as they can, because it’s sad when kids do lose that innocence.”

Mike and Jessy, as parents, were on emotional overload. Adriana’s bone marrow transplant was scheduled for December 4. Jessy was pregnant and had a due date of December 7. It meant that for some of Adriana’s treatments, Jessy wasn’t able to be there.

“She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move,” Aviles said. “So I was at the hospital the entire time for the bone marrow and that killed my wife as well because she was there all through the summer and she wanted to be there through that, but she wasn’t able to. So I was there the whole time and was able to help out my daughter. It was kind of scary for me, not knowing what to expect. You read the horror stories. You know about what could happen.”

Everything went well. Exceptionally well. On November 30, the Avileses welcomed Madden Michael Aviles, a healthy baby boy. Adriana took to the transplant as well as any patient could have.

“She had minimal side effects. It was crazy,” Aviles said. “The doctors joked around and said she was the test model patient for the bone marrow. … She’s been recovering ever since.”

It was announced in February that Adriana was cancer free. All around, players and those close to the game voiced their congratulations to the Aviles family and their thankfulness for the great news.

Manager Terry Francona was in Tucson, Ariz. when he heard the good news. He broke down in tears.

“I was in Tucson that day, I was by myself and I was crying,” Francona said. “I couldn’t help it. I was just so happy. I think I’m probably showing my age, because I think you can be happy without crying, but it hit me pretty hard.”

There have been plenty of tears for plenty of reasons in the Aviles household. Adriana has fought the sicky bugs. She doesn’t yet know just how severe the situation might have been. But she trusts her parents and knows they would trade places with her if they could.

And that makes her happy.

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Indians 2, Tigers 1: Ryan Lewis’ 22 Walk-Off Thoughts on Carlos Santana, Josh Tomlin, Cody Allen

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2016

Here are 22 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 2-1 win on the road against the Detroit Tigers Friday night.

1. Talk about instant validation. Indians manager Terry Francona had said in the spring he was kicking around the idea of batting Carlos Santana leadoff, but he never really let on that it was more than an off-hand thought. Then, he suddenly put Santana in the leadoff spot Friday night against Justin Verlander.

2. Santana worked a 3-2 count and belted a solo home run to lead off the game. In his next at-bat, he worked a 3-1 count and then doubled. Not a bad debut. But this wasn’t a one-game tryout or anything. And Francona said he probably won’t hit leadoff on Saturday. It was the right situation with guys resting and him having good success against Verlander, so he tried it.

3. It isn’t a permanent move. But it could happen from time to time and pick up steam.

4. Said Francona, “I thought he did a good job. He hit a home run his first at-bat. That was probably about as well as you could draw it up. But, if he was hitting fourth tonight, he might've done the same thing and there might've been somebody on base. I was pleased, because it gave us a lead.”

5. After the home run, Sandy Alomar joked to Santana that he was Rickey Henderson.

6. Francona made some good points before the game about how to value a leadoff hitter. Rajai Davis’ speed is certainly an asset. But in general, Francona thinks getting on-base carries more weight. It’s not quite the traditional view of a leadoff hitter, but it’s statistically the correct one. If he gets on base the most, he’ll have the most at-bats on the team, he’ll hit in front of, supposedly, the best remaining hitters.

Note: Read more on the Indians placing Carlos Santana in the leadoff spots with quotes from Francona, Santana and Indians GM Mike Chernoff

7. One of the things holding the Indians back is that Santana also has significant power, and taking him out of the middle of the order weakens it. That’s why it might be a touch-and-go thing, but once Brantley returns, they might feel the balance is OK.

8. Said Francona on OBP vs. speed before the game, “By far. Speed’s really good when you get on base. I’d rather have a guy get on base at a .400 clip and be slow than get on about 25 percent of the time and run like hell. If you’re running back to the dugout fast, that’s no good.”

9. It’ll be interesting to see if and, likely, when Santana gets another chance.

10. Josh Tomlin had a terrific start. He went 6 2/3 innings, gave up one run on four hits and a walk and struck out four. He also held a one-run lead for five innings before the Tigers finally tied it. Normally, one-run leads don’t last long against the Tigers.

11. Said Francona, “I think he pitched in really well, and then he threw his cutter or curveball off of that. He really commanded. That was one of the better pitched games we've seen.”

12. In terms of handling the middle of the Tigers’ order, Tomlin said, “You keep it down, keep the ball down as much as you can, try to face those guys with nobody on base so they can’t really put a crooked number up on you because one swing of the bat and they can change the game. For me, it was just trying to keep those guys in the ballpark and keep the ball down on them and mix it up enough to where hopefully they don’t put good swings on it.”

13. Tomlin is listed as the No. 5 starter. He’s been terrific since he came back from shoulder surgery late last season. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar will get the accolades. Tomlin has been as solid as they come, working the edges in the back of the rotation. Currently, it’s the No. 4 spot between Cody Anderson and Trevor Bauer that warrant the most questions.



14. Cody Allen had one of the more impressive ninth innings you can have. A day after throwing 30 pitches and allowing a three-run home run to Robinson Cano to lose in extra innings, he entered the ninth Friday night with a one-run lead and having to face Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez. Cabrera last season had, in almost a literal sense, Ruthian numbers against the Indians. The two Martinez’s are both among the better hitters in the American League.

15. Allen got Cabrera to weakly pop out to first base. Victor Martinez then drilled a ball 109.5 mph liner, according to Statcast, but it was directly into the shift and Jason Kipnis’ glove. J.D. Martinez then flew out to Lonnie Chisenhall in right field.

16. Talk about being thrown right back into the fire.

17. Said Allen, “It's good to get back out there and experience some success. It can snowball in either direction. You try to bounce back as well as you can and get something going, get some momentum and the ball rolling in the right direction.”

18. Zach McAllister struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia with the tying run on third in the seventh inning and Bryan Shaw worked a 1-2-3 eighth, another bounce-back effort after his poor start. Then came Allen, closing down meat of the Tigers’ lineup.

19. Said Francona, “There [were] a lot of good things. That was one of them, because with a one-run lead and three-four-five coming up, man, that's never comfortable. And he did a really good job. Everybody did. Zach came in and made real good pitches to Saltalamacchia when we had to. Shaw had a real good inning. These are games we've lost in the past, so it's a good start for us.”

20. Marlon Byrd in the top of the seventh gave the Indians back the lead, right after it was tied, on the first pitch he saw with a solo home run to the opposite field. Byrd didn’t have a full spring and said Friday night he’s starting to get his legs under him.

21. Said Byrd, “I’m getting there. I’m getting there. It’s starting to feel like I’ve got the spring-training legs out of me and the swing is there.”

22. The Indians doing just enough on the road in Detroit to scratch out a win—that hasn’t been said very often the last few years.

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A new experiment, two home runs, Josh Tomlin lift Indians to 2-1 road win against Detroit Tigers

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2016

The Indians struck gold using a new lineup, used the long ball and a received strong outing from starting pitcher Josh Tomlin to top the Detroit Tigers 2-1 at Comerica Park Friday night.

For the Indians, it’s an in-division win against a team they haven’t been able to consistently beat in several seasons. It also gets them back to a .500 record (7-7) as a key hitter, Michael Brantley, inches closer to returning from the 15-day disabled list.

All of the Indians’ runs came via the long ball, and it included some instant gratification on a new lineup confirmation. Indians manager Terry Francona placed Carlos Santana in the leadoff spot for the first time, as Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez didn’t play and Santana had plenty of previous success against Tigers (8-7) starter Justin Verlander (1-2).

Santana responded by belting a solo home run to lead off the game and instantly putting the Indians up 1-0. Per STATS LLC, Santana is the first Indians batter to hit a hoe run in his first career plate appearance as leadoff hitter since Joe Carter in 1984.

Later, the Indians struck again. Tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Marlon Byrd took Verlander to the opposite field for a solo home run to give the Indians back the lead.

From that point, it was up to the Indians’ bullpen. Zach McAllister relieved Tomlin in the seventh inning and with the tying run on third, struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the inning. Bryan Shaw then worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Cody Allen, a day after throwing 30 pitches in a loss to the Seattle Mariners, earned his fifth save of the season in the ninth by go through the heart of the Tigers lineup.

After Santana’s home run in the first, Tomlin (2-0) kept a dangerous Tigers lineup at bay and held a 1-0 lead for five innings. It wasn’t until the sixth that the Tigers got to him, and it all happened with two outs.

Ian Kinsler started it with a single. Justin Upton, the Tigers’ slugging free-agent addition in the offseason, drove a double to center field that scored Kinsler all the way from the first and tied it 1-1. With first base open and two outs, Tomlin went after Miguel Cabrera but was careful working around the edges and ended up walking him anyway. Tomlin was then able to escape the inning still tied after getting Victor Martinez to ground out to Francisco Lindor at shortstop.

Prior to that, a double by Martinez in the second inning was Tomlin’s only hit allowed in the first five innings. Tomlin finished with one earned run on four hits and one walk to go with four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

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Indians place Carlos Santana in the leadoff spot, though move isn’t permanent

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2016
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An idea Indians manager Terry Francona has been kicking around for quite some time has now come to fruition, at least for one night.

Carlos Santana, an on-base percentage savant, is hitting leadoff for the Indians Friday night against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. A number of factors played into it, such as Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez both having the night off and Santana having previous success against Verlander.

It isn’t a permanent move, but it could be the beginning of a semi-regular occurrence. Francona floated the idea this spring but never committed to it beyond Santana hitting leadoff in a few spring training games. Now, it’ll happen at least once.

“I hope it helps us win a game, but Carlos, his at-bats are going to be his at-bats wherever he is in the lineup,” Francona said. “If he goes 4-for-4 tonight or whatever, that’d be wonderful. But this isn’t going to define him or anything. I just thought it made some sense tonight, trying to figure out a way to put our best lineup out there.”

Santana has always sported a lower-than-ideal batting average, but he also has a career .364 on-base percentage. He’s one of four qualified hitters to post an OBP higher than .350 in each of the past five seasons, joining only Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and the Chicago Cubs’ Ben Zobrist.

The Indians don’t want Santana to change his approach.

“When I had the meeting with Tito, he told me I don't have to change my approach,” Santana said. “This is my first time in the season hitting leadoff, but I don't have a problem with that. I'll keep trying to help my team and win the game.”

Few hitters get on base more than Santana, and few draw more walks. In general, that carries greater value in the leadoff spot for Francona than straight speed. He’s talked highly of Rajai Davis’ ability to impact a game with his legs, for instance, but that isn’t the No. 1 thing a leadoff hitter needs.  

“By far,” Francona said when asked if getting on base was more important than speed. “Speed’s really good when you get on base. I’d rather have a guy get on base at a .400 clip and be slow than get on about 25 percent of the time and run like hell. If you’re running back to the dugout fast, that’s no good.”

One thing the Indians have to weigh is that hitting Santana in the leadoff spot ahead of Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor also weakens the middle of the order. It’s an issue in general and especially an issue until Michael Brantley returns.

“The most important thing in a leadoff guy is a guy that gets on base. Carlos does that,” said Indians general manager Mike Chernoff. “I think what you're trying to balance, and Tito could speak to it better, is how do you drive in runs after that? So, you have to try to mix and match different things. I think it's a great idea Tito had.”

Santana will never be mistaken for a speedster like Davis. The Indians are, in a way, trading some speed for Santana’s ability to get on base whenever he’s leading off. But he isn’t a plodder, either, as he had 11 stolen bases last season and earned his first above-average base running grade by FanGraphs.com.

“He’s a pretty good baserunner out there, a smart base runner,” Chernoff said. “With the extremely high on-base percentage, you're always looking for a guy to set the table. He sets the table.”

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Mariners 10, Indians 7: Ryan Lewis’ 15 Walk-Off Thoughts on Cody Allen, Mike Napoli, Cody Anderson

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 21, 2016

Here are 15 Walk-Off Thoughts from the Indians’ 10-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings Thursday afternoon.

1. Working backward might be the best way to cover this game. And that means Robinson Cano’s three-run bomb in the 10th inning.

2. Cody Allen was working his second inning and at 29 pitches leading up to that at-bat. There’s been a lot written about how previous pitcher vs. batter matchup data isn’t always the more reliable thing to go by. That being said, Cano had been 0-for-7 against Allen going into that at-bat and Allen has handled lefties fine in the past.

3. Because of that, there’s any thought of walking Cano to get to Nelson Cruz, an equally dangerous hitter. Said Francona, “Cody’s really good, but he’s better against lefties. No. I don’t think—there may come a day where it’s like second and third or something, but no, he’s actually better against lefties. That was the first time Cano ever got a hit. I know Cano is good—so is Cruz.”

4. Allen’s first pitch to Cano was right down the middle, and it was crushed. Ballgame.

5. Said Allen, “I knew I'd had some success against him, but he's still a very dangerous hitter. A bad pitch to a good hitter and he didn't miss it.”

More: Indians' Danny Salazar off to a hot start as No. 3 starter

6. The Indians were running out of pitchers as Francona tried to piece things together to try and fight back, which the offense did. So, Allen needed to get through that 10th inning. He’s also the Indians’ best option.

7. Allen was actually just as upset with the two walks he issued that inning, the only reason Cano was able to come to the plate in the first place. “I got beat by walking a couple guys and getting to the meat of their order. That's pretty much what got me right there.”

8. Before that, the Indians had fought back three times. It was 5-0, then 5-3 (on Rajai Davis’ three-run home run). It was 7-3, then 7-5. The third was on Mike Napoli’s two-run pinch-hit home run to tie it 7-7 in the eighth inning. Along with his defense at first base, it was also exactly why the Indians signed him this offseason.

9. Said Francona, “It’s a hard game to win. It would have been a great game to win. We kept coming. Obviously Nap with a huge hit, it’s kind of fun to watch a guy that’s not playing sit there for eight innings and be locked in and then go do what he did. That’s pretty impressive.”

10. Added Napoli, “At the moment, it was an exciting moment. It's something that, when you're on the bench, you think about all game and try to hopefully get that opportunity. But, it doesn't really mean anything coming away with a loss. I don't know. I stay prepared. I go in the cage and hit during the game and think about situations. I got the opportunity.”


11. In reality, this game fell on the pitchers, though. Cody Anderson was knocked around for five runs and couldn’t escape the fourth inning. Trevor Bauer came in and walked the first two batters he faced (to walk in a run) and then was hit for two more a couple innings later.

12. Anderson has given up five home runs now this season. Much of it, and the problem on Thursday, has been the location on his changeup. Anderson is a pitcher who works with downward movement to a greater extent, and he’s been burned by not finding that location.

13. Said Anderson, “Yeah, just leaving my changeup middle-in to those lefties, so that when I get it to the right location, they keep hitting it down the line a little bit. I’ve just got to keep it down and get it where I need it to be.”



14. Anderson has struggled to start this season and now owns a 7.53 ERA. The Indians have an interesting discussion coming up, possibly on Sunday or next week, when Michael Brantley is able to return and a move is needed. Anderson appreciated the offensive fight, of course. It just wasn’t enough.

15. “It’s incredible,” Anderson said. “The last two times I’ve pitched, they’ve scored a lot of runs. If I would have done my job, we’d be walking away with a win.”

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Indians fight back three times but fall to Seattle Mariners 10-7 in 10 innings

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 21, 2016

The Indians fought back three times on Thursday to force extra innings. That was when the Seattle Mariners finally delivered the knockout blow.

With two outs and two runners on in the 10th inning Cody Allen (0-1), in his second inning of work, had his first pitch—his 30th of the day—to Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano crushed to dead center field for a three-run home run.

After a day of the Indians clawing their way back, Cano’s deflating blast was enough to send the Indians to a 10-7 loss.

“I know I’d had some success against him, but he’s still a very dangerous hitter,” Allen said. “A bad pitch to a good hitter and he didn’t miss it.”

The Indians (6-7) had already answered Mariners rallies twice by the eighth inning, though it hadn’t been enough to tie the score until Mike Napoli stepped to the plate to pinch hit, the Indians down to four outs and in need of one big swing.

The third time was the charm. Facing Mariners (7-8) relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit in a 7-5 game with two outs in the eighth inning, Napoli worked to a hitter’s count and then belted a two-run, score-tying home run to the bleacher seats in left field. It was his third home run of the season and the first pinch-hit home run of his career.

“It’s a hard game to win,” Francona said. “It would have been a great game to win. We kept coming. Obviously, Nap with a huge hit, it’s kind of fun to watch a guy that’s not playing for eight innings and be locked in and go do what he did. That’s pretty impressive.”

In the ninth, Francisco Lindor drew a walk with two outs but was then caught trying to steal second. That led to the 10th inning, and a fourth response never arrived.

As the offense battled back during the day, Indians pitching from top to bottom had a rough outing.

After Indians starter Cody Anderson got knocked around early, relief pitcher Trevor Bauer entered and was hit hard as well.

Anderson’s rough start to 2016 continued, as his season ERA rose to 7.53. Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger belted a two-run home run in the second inning. In the fourth, the Mariners rattled off three consecutive singles to make it 3-0 and outfielder Seth Smith then added a sacrifice fly to put the Mariners up 4-0 and end Anderson’s day before he could escape the inning.

Bauer entered in relief as an option who can log multiple innings, but he struggled with his command. Bauer walked the first two batters he faced to bring home another run before getting Kyle Seager to fly out to end the inning.

Anderson finished with five earned runs on nine hits and three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Bauer gave up two runs on three hits and struck out two in two innings of work.

The Indians twice fought back before Napoli’s home run. In the bottom of the fifth, Roberto Perez walked, Tyler Naquin singled and Rajai Davis followed with a three-run home run to the bleacher seats in left field, making it 5-3.

The Mariners again got to Bauer in the sixth. With a runner on, Cano doubled home a run and then scored on Nelson Cruz’s single, ending Bauer’s day.

The Indians got both runs back in the bottom half of the inning. After Carlos Santana walked, Jose Ramirez doubled to score him from first and Lonnie Chisenhall followed with an RBI-single to right field, his first hit of the season, to bring the Indians to within 7-5.

Then came a diving stop by Francisco Lindor take a run off the board and Napoli’s two-run home run. It just wasn’t enough to outlast the Mariners in 10 innings.

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Mariners 2, Indians 1: Ryan Lewis’ 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on a pitcher’s duel, Danny Salazar and more

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 21, 2016

Here are 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on a great pitcher’s duel and the Indians’ 2-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners Wednesday night.

1. The Indians’ Danny Salazar and the Mariners’ Taijuan Walker are pretty interesting cases when paired together. Both are younger, high-ceiling starters. Salazar took the step forward last season that many have predicted Walker will make this year. This was a fun pitching matchup.

2. And it’s nice when a pitching duel lives up to its billing. This time, it didn’t work out well for the Indians. Salazar and Walker combined to allow only six hits in 13 innings pitched. The Mariners’ one scoring play, a two-out, two-run triple by Nori Aoki, was just enough.

3. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “I thought both starters were good. Two young, good right-handers. The inning they scored their two, they had an opposite base hit through the shift and he walked Iannetta, and it looked like he was trying to get himself out of it, fell behind 2-1 to Aoki, tried to go down and away with a fastball, ran over the middle and he hooked it. Those are their runs. And they made it hold up.”

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Indians starter Danny Salazar out-dueled in 2-1 loss to Seattle Mariners

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 20, 2016

In a matchup of two of the more promising starting pitchers in the American League, the Indians’ Danny Salazar and the Seattle Mariners’ Taijuan Walker didn’t disappoint. Salazar, 26, and Walker, 23, have represented high-ceiling starters who have either taken the first step—as Salazar did last season—or appear to be on the verge of doing so.

Both were strong in Wednesday night’s game, though Walker got the best of Salazar in a 2-1 loss for the Indians (6-6).

The Mariners (6-8) had one scoring play, and it was enough. Adam Lind and Chris Iannetta singled and walked to open the second inning before Salazar quickly recorded two outs. Norichika Aoki then ripped a two-out, two-run triple into the corner in right field. It got past a diving Mike Napoli and then rattled around in the corner as Lonnie Chisenhall, making his season debut in right field, bobbled it.

Salazar (2-1) went on to retire the next 11 batters he faced and allowed only three hits and three walks in seven innings while striking out seven. But Walker, who has been on the cusp of taking a step forward in his career for a year or two, was equally effective.

Walker (1-0) threw six innings, gave up three hits, walked six and struck out six. The Indians’ lone run came in the bottom of the third inning, when after an error, Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice fly was deep enough to score Tyler Naquin from third base.

From that point, Salazar didn’t allow another hit and Walker and the Mariners’ bullpen kept it a one-run score.

Two base running mistakes might have taken runs off the board for the Indians. In that third inning, Juan Uribe opened with a double but after Naquin hit a soft ground ball back to the mound, Uribe was caught leaning too far off second base. In the seventh inning, Uribe walked with two outs and Rajai Davis came on to pitch hit but was also caught too far off the bag as well, this time by relief pitcher Joel Peralta, to end the inning.

The Indians had another chance in the eighth inning. Facing Mariners relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit, Naquin opened the inning with a single to left field. Jose Ramirez tried to advance him to second base but bunted it back to Benoit, who threw out Naquin at second base. Ramirez eventually advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, but Kipnis lined out and Francisco Lindor grounded out to end the inning.

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Indians activate OF Lonnie Chisenhall, demote OF Collin Cowgill

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 20, 2016

The Indians on Wednesday activated outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall from the 15-day disabled list and demoted outfielder Collin Cowgill to Triple-A Columbus.

Chisenhall started the year on the disabled list with a left wrist impingement after also dealing with a shoulder issue during spring training. He appeared in seven rehab appearances between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.

He said in late March that he was pain free, and that it was more about him getting enough at-bats to be ready for the season. The Indians also faced seven left-handed starters in their first 11 games, which would have made it difficult to put Chisenhall in the lineup on a regular basis. On Wednesday night, he returned and batted seventh in the lineup.

“[Chisenhall] said the last couple days, he really felt like he had his bat speed back and he felt good, and he said he was ready,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And you try to trust your guys. When a guy says he’s ready, we try to believe in him and trust him.”

Chisenhall provides an upgrade defensively in right field and offensively against right-handed pitching. Marlon Byrd figures to platoon with Chisenhall against left-handed pitchers. Rajai Davis and Tyler Naquin are also in that mix, with Jose Ramirez being an option in left field.

Cowgill struggled to start the season and had an option remaining, making him a logical choice to be sent down to Triple-A Columbus. He’s just 1-for-12 this year.

“We talked to Collin [Tuesday night] after the game,” Francona said. “By his own admission, he hasn’t hit a lot, and that wasn’t the end-all, be-all, because of what we were asking him to do, which was go in and play defense, things like that. But, I also think, as disappointing as it can be to go to Triple-A, it can be really good for him.”

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Indians 3, Mariners 2: Ryan Lewis' 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on patience, Carlos Carrasco, Bryan Shaw

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 19, 2016

Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts from the Indians’ 3-2 win against the Seattle Mariners Tuesday night.

1. Sometimes, you can let the opposing pitcher do the work. Mariners starter Wade Miley didn’t walk a single batter in his first two outings and then in the fourth inning Tuesday night completely lost the strike zone. Miley walked four batters in that one inning, including two that brought home runs, and the Indians took an early 3-0 lead.

2. The Indians didn’t do a great job of converting scoring opportunities into runs. They had nine hits and four walks in the first four innings and only scratched across those three runs. The first and second innings ended in double plays, including one that Collin Cowgill hit into after three consecutive singles.

3. Normally, that ends up coming back to hurt teams in the end. But once Miley began to lose the zone, the Indians sat back and forced him to find the plate. The Mariners couldn’t get a reliever warmed up fast enough.

4. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “Both teams had a lot of baserunners early. We especially did. It was nice to see them get patient enough wether, bases loaded, we worked a couple of walks and then made it hold up. We swung the bats good early. We hit into three double plays in the first three innings, which doesn’t help, but I’ll take having the chances. I’d rather have chances than not.”

More: Indians still facing plenty of lefties, despite being in a different position

5. Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was his normal ace-level self. He threw 6 1/3 innings, allowed one run on four hits, walked three and struck out five to improve to 2-0 this season. His only blemish was a solo home run off the bat of Kyle Seager.

6. The club also nearly had a bit of a scare in the third inning. While trying to cover first to turn a 3-6-1 double play, it appeared as though Carrasco stepped on Robinson Cano’s foot, possibly turning it a bit. The club checked on Carrasco then and a second time in the game to make sure he was OK. Francine mentioned it was difficult for Carrasco to push off the rest of the night.

7. “I know it was hard for him to push off, but he continued to pitch and besides the one pitch to Seager, kept them off the score board. He did a really good job,” Francona said. “I just wanted to make sure [he was OK]. After he covered first, he covered first fine, I just thought he was limping coming back. To make a trip seems worth it because I don’t want him to lose a game because he’s not healthy. That doesn’t seem to make sense.”

8. Francona stuck with Bryan Shaw in the eighth inning of a two-run game. He allowed a double but worked around it to hold the Indians’ 3-1 lead. It was a good bounce-back outing after being shelled against the New York Mets, the second time this season he had been hit hard.

9. “Nobody’s worried about him,” said closer Cody Allen, who notched his fourth save. “He's as consistent as they come. I was in the same spot last year. It just seems, for those two outings, every time they hit the ball, they got a hit. He fell behind some guys and got hurt, but he's as consistent as they come. His stuff is really good. It's not like his velo is way down or anything like that. He's in a good spot.”

10. The consistency in velocity is something that Francona noted as well in saying he thought Shaw would be fine, it was just two bad outings. Since it came at the beginning of the season, there’ll be more attention paid to it, as Shaw’s ERA will be in double digits for a while.

11. Said Francona, “Good. His velocity and everything has been crisp right from the beginning, but he’s just been working from behind in the count. Tonight, he attacked the zone and he was good.”

12. The Indians did have a great day in the field. Francisco Lindor made two fantastic plays, making something look easy that is most certainly not. Mike Napoli also made a diving play and has continued to be a significant defensive upgrade over Carlos Santana from last season.

13. Said Napoli, “I just try to be a complete player. I work hard at my defensive side and I take pride in it. It's something I feel like I can help our ball club with, is being out there and being able to save runs and do whatever I can. It's something I work really hard at and take a lot of pride in.”

14. The Indians are expected to activate outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall from the 15-day disabled list tomorrow. It seems likely they’ll send down Collin Cowgill, who has really struggled and still has an option remaining. Chisenhall could platoon with Marlon Byrd in right field. Tyler Naquin, Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez would then man center and left field.

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Indians, aided by walks, top Seattle Mariners 3-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 19, 2016

The Indians didn’t do the best job of taking advantage of scoring opportunities, but they did enough to support starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in a 3-2 win Tuesday night.

Much of it was thanks to Mariners (5-8) starter Wade Miley (0-2) and his sudden loss of the strike zone in the fourth inning. With the Indians (6-5) already leading 1-0, Miley, who didn’t walk a single batter in his first two starts this season, allowed a single to Marlon Byrd and then walked Juan Uribe and Collin Cowgill—the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the lineup—to load the bases with one out.

The control issues didn’t stop while the Mariners tried to get a reliever warm in the bullpen. Rajai Davis was then walked to bring a run home and make it 2-0 and after Jason Kipnis struck out, Francisco Lindor was walked as well to put the Indians up 3-0 while only needing one hit in the inning.

In the inning prior, back-to-back doubles by Lindor and Mike Napoli gave the Indians a 1-0 lead. It partially made up for missing out on scoring opportunities in the first two innings.

Singles by Kipnis and Lindor were wiped out by Napoli grounding out into a double play to end the inning. In the second, three straight singles with one out were for naught after Cowgill grounded into another inning-ending double play.

The Indians had nine hits and walked four times in the first four innings. Given that scenario, three runs doesn’t sound like a huge success, but it was plenty for Carrasco (2-0), who threw 6 1/3 innings, gave up one run on four hits, walked three and struck out five.

He was aided by some outstanding defense by Lindor at shortstop, who made two diving plays—one on each side of second base—to take away two base hits. Napoli added a third diving stop at first base.

While trying to make a defensive play of his own, Carrasco came up hobbling a bit. In the third inning, Mariners second basemen Robinson Cano hit a ground ball to Napoli, who fired to second for the first out. Carrasco tried to get to first base to turn the double play and appeared to step on Cano’s foot or have it turned a bit. The trainers came out to talk with Carrasco, but he remained in the game.

Carrasco’s lone blemish came in the sixth when Mariners third basemen Kyle Seager blasted a solo home run to right field.

The bullpen also held up its end of the bargain. Struggling Bryan Shaw entered in the eighth with a two-run lead. He allowed a one-out double to Cano but got Nelson Cruz to fly out and then struck out Seager to end the inning. It was a solid bounce-back outing for Shaw, who’s had command issues this season.

Cody Allen came on in the ninth and allowed a run after Adam Lind doubled and later scored on a ground ball. With two outs, Allen struck out former Indians outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to earn his fourth save of the season.

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Indians still facing plenty of lefties, but in a different situation

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 19, 2016

The Indians still seem to be facing a high number of left-handed starting pitchers, though this time around it appears to be by chance rather than design.

Last season, the Indians employed a left-handed heavy lineup and knew they’d have every opposing lefty thrown at them, with some teams even rearranging their rotation to make it happen. Opposing left-handed relievers knew they’d have plenty of work to do when coming to Cleveland.

This year, the Indians are more balanced, especially with left-handed outfielders Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall opening the year on the disabled list. The additions of Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Marlon Byrd, Juan Uribe and Collin Cowgill, along with the expanded role of switch-hitter Jose Ramirez, have given the Indians additional options to balance things out. Nonetheless, a high number of southpaws has rolled through Cleveland, even if by accident.

Through the club’s first 11 games, they’ve faced seven left-handed starting pitchers.

“I felt like last year, teams were trying to manipulate their rotations so we could face some lefties,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “This year, we’re actually positioned a little bit different where we’re OK. It’s just the luck of the draw. … It’s about the most I’ve ever seen, though. That’s for sure.”

Statistically, some of those right-handed additions haven’t fared so well in the early going. Byrd, Uribe and Cowgill have combined to go just 2-for-36 against left-handers this season.

Hitterish

For some hitters off to a slow start, like Uribe, the Indians have felt good about certain indicators in many of his at-bats. Uribe started the season 1-for-19 and then had a three-hit game, raising his batting average more than 100 points.

“I think with small sample sizes, averages go up and down so fast the first three weeks of the season,” Francona said. “That’s why you look for the quality of their at-bat and you know once they get to the 100 at-bat mark, things sort of tend to plateau or even out a little bit.”

Sometimes, it’s as simple as a hard-hit out and a glance from Francona to bench coach Brad Mills.

“I think that as much as we watch our guys, you can really tell, with most guys,” Francona said. “There’s every once in a while a guy will surprise you, but most guys will kind of lead you into where, I’ll look at Millsy or he’ll look at me and say, ‘Looking a little hitterish, he’s getting there.’ Might not get a hit that night but they might have fouled a ball straight back and they were right on time, or might have drilled a ball the other way.”

Expected return

Chisenhall, on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist impingement, is expected to be activated on Wednesday. It’s possible that Cowgill, who does have an option remaining, is sent back to Triple-A Columbus.

Brantley is still working toward being able to play back-to-back days before he’s considered a candidate to return to Cleveland. Once he crosses that milestone and responds well to it, he’ll likely be nearing his season debut.

“He needs to play back-to-back games, just to see how he bounces back and things like that,” Francona said. “And in fairness to him, once you get a guy back, we don’t have to play him every day, but you want to give him a chance to be who he is and not be feeling weak because he played three days in a row or something like that.”

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Mets 6, Indians 0: Ryan Lewis’ 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on the sun, Corey Kluber and more

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 18, 2016

Here are 13 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday.

1. This loss had a lot to do with Corey Kluber and Mets starter Steven Matz, 60 feet, six inches away. It also had a lot to do with the sun, 93 million miles away.

2. Kluber was one out away from getting out of the second inning and got the easy fly ball he needed. Except, it was a rare day in which the sky mirrored the difficulty of playing in Arizona. A couple of missed fly balls to center field and it was 6-0. After that, Kluber was his usual self and managed to throw four scoreless innings.

3. Sometimes, there’s really not much you can do to fight the sun besides using sun glasses, a hat and/or a glove. Davis tried them all, but he didn’t use it as an excuse.

4. Said Davis, “I had trouble with the sun. Just have to make my adjustments and catch it next time. … I did see it off the bat. Those are the ones you just have to play out of position to catch those balls. They’re not going to be easy balls to catch, especially with the sun out like that as high as it is, but you just have to make the adjustment, especially at this level.”



5. The Indians actually began to have Davis play out of position, trying to find an alignment that allowed him to pick up the ball. He only had one other chance, a ball he caught, that coincidentally, right fielder Marlon Byrd lost in the sun.

6. “I’m sure that’s an awful feeling,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of not being able to find the ball. “You feel probably pretty naked. So we started playing him a little out of position just so he could have a better angle.”

More: Indians expect OF Lonnie Chisenhall to return from DL on Wednesday

7. That all being said, Kluber still gave up three non-sun-aided runs in the first inning. Similar to how the Indians got to Matt Harvey Saturday night, Kluber walked the leadoff hitter and started from the stretch. He hasn’t quite been his ace-level self so far this season.

8. Said Kluber, “Walking the leadoff guy is never good to start a game, but we got a rollover ground ball from Cabby that just found a hole. I just didn't make a good pitch to Conforto or Duda. They both drove in runs with them.”

9. There’s also the fact that Kluber’s velocity has been down a touch. According to Brooks Baseball, the velocity on his fastball is 92.65 this season, 1.01 mph slower than in 2015. In 2014, it was 94.59.

10. Said Francona, “There’s maybe a couple things. One, I think there’s times when mechanically he might swing open a little bit. … But I also think confidence plays a big part in it. We’ve all seen him, as he gets into a game, he gets on a roll, it seems like it creeps up. He still has the ability, when he gets going, you saw how many bats he missed. He just made some mistakes early and they made him pay for it. I’ve always felt, though, watching him pitch, as he gets going into a game his velocity can really start to creep up.”

11. It’ll be something to watch going forward. The Indians have played in some frigid weather and it’s still a small sample size. But, it has been happening so far.

More: If the Indians can maintain April pace, they'll be where they need to be

12. The Indians also, somehow, still can’t seem to score when Kluber is on the mound. In three starts, the Indians have scored three runs. There are sometimes pitchers who, in a given year, just can’t seem to get any run support. For Kluber, it’s now crossing over into multiple seasons, which seems even flukier than normal.

13. “I don't know. I can't speak for the guys. It doesn't seem like there's a different mood in the dugout than any other night,” Kluber said. “Like I've said, you can't let those things get to you. It's your job to go out there and put up zeros regardless of what happens on the other side.”

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Indians fall to New York Mets, sun 6-0

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 17, 2016

Corey Kluber struggled with the New York Mets’ bats and Rajai Davis struggled with a giant fireball in the sky, and the Indians fell 6-0 on Sunday afternoon.

Kluber dropped to 0-3 this season and was knocked around right from the start. After a walk and a single to start the first inning, Mets (5-6) outfielder Michael Conforto doubled home a run and first baseman Lucas Duda later added a two-run single to right field to make it 3-0.

“Walking the leadoff guy is never good to start a game, but we got a rollover ground ball from [Asdrubal Cabrera that just found a hole,” Kluber said. “I just didn't make a good pitch to Conforto or Duda. They both drove in runs with them.”

In the second inning, the sun did the damage on a rare cloudless day in Cleveland. Kluber quickly recorded two outs before outfielder Curtis Granderson sent a high fly ball to deep center field. Davis, trying to shield the sun with whatever he could, was unable to locate it in time, giving Granderson a triple instead of ending the inning.

“Those are the ones you just have to play out of position to catch those balls,” Davis said. “They’re not going to be easy balls to catch, especially with the sun out like that as high as it is, but you just have to make the adjustment, especially at this level.”

A few pitches later, Cabrera made it costly with a bunt single that was compounded by a throwing error on Kluber. Conforto then followed with another RBI-double on a hard-hit ground ball that got under the glove of Indians (5-5) first basemen Mike Napoli. Mets designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes then sent another high fly ball to center field. Once again, Davis couldn’t fight the sun and find the ball in time, as it dropped for a double and put the Mets up 6-0 in the top of the second inning.

“In the second inning, [Kluber has] a chance for an easy inning, two outs, gets the fly ball and [they] turn it into three more,” Francona said. “That hurt a lot.”

Kluber was strong from that point, finishing with six earned runs on nine hits and a walk to go with eight strikeouts in six innings pitched. But, the Mets’ bats and the Indians’ issues with the sun were enough to carry Mets starter Steven Matz (1-1), who threw seven scoreless innings, allowed just three hits and two walks and struck out nine.

The Indians mustered only three hits and struck out 15 times as a team on Sunday, never putting together a rally to challenge the Mets’ six-run lead.

“I guess it was partly because they got off to a hot start,” Davis said. “That allowed [Matz] to settle in. Then they got more runs in the second. That’s an uphill battle right there. He was able to settle in and we’re on defense a lot more than we’re on offense. It’s tougher as hitters to compete, but we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

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Indians expect OF Lonnie Chisenhall to return Wednesday

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 17, 2016
Chisenhall

Rehabbing Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall met with the team on Sunday morning and received some clarity on his timetable for a return. He’s been on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist impingement and has yet to make his 2016 season debut.

Per Indians manager Terry Francona, Chisenhall is expected to play in rehab assignments for Double-A Akron Monday and Tuesday night and then return to the Indians on Wednesday.

“Lonnie, we kind of adjusted his schedule a little bit,” Francona said Sunday morning. “He was going to play [Sunday] and he came in and we visited a little bit. He’s going to work out with us today and he’ll go play the outfield [Monday], DH Tuesday, and if everything’s without any hiccups or anything, we get him back Wednesday.”

The Indians will then have a decision to make regarding the 25-man roster. Perhaps the most likely scenario—as well as the most straightforward—would be to send outfielder Collin Cowgill to Triple-A Columbus. Cowgill has an option remaining, and the Indians would retain four outfielders plus Jose Ramirez, who can act as a fifth outfielder from his utility role.

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Indians 7, Mets 5: Ryan Lewis’ 16 Walk-Off Thoughts on Carlos Santana, Josh Tomlin, Rajai Davis

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 17, 2016

Here are 16 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 7-5 win against the New York Mets.

1. The key for the Indians on Saturday was getting Matt Harvey out of the windup. They didn’t do a very good job of that through the first four innings. Harvey was perfect through 4 1/3 innings until Carlos Santana walked and stole second base. All of a sudden, that put the tying run in scoring position after the Indians looked helpless at the plate all day.

2. In the windup, Indians hitters were 1-for-14 against Harvey. Out of the stretch: 5-for-8 with three walks and two doubles. (Thank you to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian for compiling that.)

3. It’s also why hitters who walk at a high rate can get by with a lower batting average, like Santana. Walks have significant value in a lineup. As soon as the Indians got Harvey into the stretch, things began to unravel for him.

4. “I think he was very effective in the windup,” Rajai Davis said. “Getting him in the stretch, he's a different pitcher. I think he was very good out of the windup. Deceptive. Everything. The shadows didn't help, either. Well, they didn't help us. They helped him.”

More: Indians need OF Lonnie Chisenhall ready to go before return from DL

5. Indians manager Terry Francona spent all spring raving about Jose Ramirez, and saying the team wanted to look for ways to get him into the game. It’s why he’s gotten so much time in the outfield. They didn’t want him to just be a utility man if a regular needs rest.

6. Saturday was a snapshot of why. Ramirez came up with the key double that broke up Harvey’s no-hitter in the fifth inning and tied it 1-1. He also made a terrific play in the top of the sixth on David Wright’s hit off the left-field wall to field it, turn and fire to second to nail him trying to advance. Instead of Jeff Manship in a 2-1 game having a runner on second with nobody out, he had one gone and a clean slate.

7. Said Francona, “Yeah, he’s done a good job for us. That play in left field was—and I know he’s not an everyday left fielder defensively yet—but that was still a heck of a play.” And on Ramirez’s double, Francona added, “That was hit right into the wind. That ball was hit really well. Because you could tell, the first four innings, we had no chance.”

8. Aggressive base running has been a mantra of the Indians in the early going this season. Santana stole a base Saturday night and has taken an extra base multiple times. Mike Napoli has taken an extra base here or there. Davis, signed in large part for this speed, stole his fifth base on Saturday.

9. On Davis’ impact, Francona said, “He can change the game with his speed and the thing that’s really kind of fun to watch in just the short sample that we’ve gotten to know him is that he’s always ready to run whether it’s stealing a base or getting down the line on a ground ball or going first-to-third. All the things that used to aggravate us, we’ve kind of come to quickly like.”

10. Essentially, Davis has supplied the kind of impact—a couple of nice catches, five steals in nine games—at the top of the lineup the Indians needed out of Michael Bourn the last few seasons.

11. Reliever Bryan Shaw is having an abysmal start to the season. As the Indians’ primary setup man to closer Cody Allen, he has entered four games. In two of them, he’s been taken deep and surrendered four or more runs. Shaw has been struggling with his command.

12. "It just looks like he's searching a little bit for the strike zone,” pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. “Anytime you're searching for the strike zone, hoping you throw a strike, bad things are going to happen. He needs to get aggressive, throw the ball over the plate with conviction and live with the results.”

13. Josh Tomlin left the game prior to the sixth inning because of a right hamstring cramp. He had been cramping since the third inning and finally, Yan Gomes and the Indians noticed it was beginning enough of an issue. It might have been in part due to Tomlin having 17 days of rest due to postponements to start the season.

14. Said Tomlin, “I don't know if it was just the adrenaline of not pitching for that long, but my hamstring kept grabbing at me. I knew it wasn't anything serious like a pull, it was just cramping up on me when I followed through. That last inning when I went out there, it grabbed at me and stayed there. It wouldn't really release. I was trying to get it to release before Yan or anybody saw me, but once Yan saw me at the back of the mound, he came out there and that was it.”

15. It’s also a credit to Tomlin to give up a home run on his third pitch of the season and then recover to hold a 1-0 deficit while the offense figured out Harvey.

16. “He's probably one of the only people on the planet that can go do that,” Callway said. “That's pretty special to be able to take 17 days off, go against their No. 1 guy in Harvey and basically out-pitch him. He started running into some cramps later in the game just because he hadn't been out there in 17 days.”

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Indians find enough offense to top Mets, Matt Harvey 7-5

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 16, 2016

A reverse of fortunes can happen pretty quickly in baseball. On Saturday, the Indians turned a no-hit bid for New York starter Matt Harvey into a losing effort to top the Mets 7-5.

For much of the early part of the game, the Indians’ bats looked helpless against the Mets’ ace and Josh Tomlin’s season debut got off to a rough start.

Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson hit the third pitch thrown by Tomlin (1-0) over the right-field wall for a lead-off, solo home run to give the Mets an almost-instant 1-0 lead. From there, Harvey sat down the Indians 1-2-3 through the first four innings as he “carved up” the lineup, as Indians manager Terry Francona put it.

Harvey (0-3) was one out away from escaping the fifth with the no-hitter and 1-0 lead in-tact. Carlos Santana, standing on second after a walk and a steal, was the only thing keeping a perfect game out of the realm of possibility. It was enough to start a rally.

Jose Ramirez followed by drilling a ball to deep center field that Mets center fielder Alejandro De Aza couldn’t track down, falling for an RBI-double and tying the score 1-1. Juan Uribe then added an RBI-single to left field to give the Indians a quick 2-1 lead.

Just after being given the lead, Tomlin had a quick exit from Saturday’s game. After throwing a warm-up pitch prior to the top of the sixth, the Indians called for the trainers and Tomlin was taken out with a right hamstring cramp, per the team. He allowed one run on four hits and struck out six in his five innings. He had also been cramping since the third inning, perhaps the byproduct of having 17 days of rest.

“I don't know if it was just the adrenaline of not pitching for that long, but my hamstring kept grabbing at me,” Tomlin said. “I knew it wasn't anything serious like a pull, it was just cramping up on me when I followed through. That last inning when I went out there, it grabbed at me and stayed there. It wouldn't really release.”

Jeff Manship entered the game and received some help from Ramirez in left field. Mets third basemen David Wright ripped a ball off the top of the wall in left field and tried to advance to second but was thrown out by Ramirez’s throw from the near the warning track.  

The Indians kept piling on Harvey in the sixth. Rajai Davis opened the inning with a single, stole second base (his fifth steal of the season) and Jason Kipnis followed with an RBI-double to the gap in left-center field. Mike Napoli and Yan Gomes each singled home a run to make it 5-1, ending Harvey’s day.

In the seventh inning, Francisco Lindor drove in Kipnis, who singled, with an RBI-double and Napoli added another run-scoring single.

The tough start to the season for relief pitcher Bryan Shaw continued in the eighth, and the Mets  (4-6) turned a comfortable lead into a tight affair much like the Indians did Friday night. Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes cut the Indians’ lead in half with a three-run home run and Neil Walker followed with a solo shot down the right-field line to make it 7-5. Just as quickly as the Indians ended Harvey’s solid day, the Mets turned a comfortable lead into a save situation.

After the Mets got to Shaw, Allen entered, allowed a walk but no hits and recorded a four-out save to close the game, his third of the season.

“I wanted us to win so bad because I wanted to come in here and brag about the way we played today,” Francona said. “That guy [Harvey] was carving us up for four innings. … And then [Tomlin] holds it right where it’s supposed to be and gives us a chance and we played a really good game defensively, on the bases and made everything count. And you look towards the end, we needed it.”

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Mets 6, Indians 5: Ryan Lewis’ 11 Walk-off Thoughts on Cody Anderson, a power surge and more

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 16, 2016

Here are 11 Walk-off Thoughts from the Indians’ 6-5 loss to the New York Mets Friday night.

1. Cody Anderson is a pitcher who utilizes hard, downward movement to induce weak contact and the occasional strikeout. When that type of pitcher struggles to keep the ball down and doesn’t quite have the stuff of a Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar? That often spells trouble.

2. That was the issue Friday night, and it really caught up with him in the fifth. Said Anderson: “A few of those pitches were just up, just trying to do a little too much with the ball. Left a few pitches up and they definitely didn’t miss them.”

3. The Mets entered this game with two team home runs, the lowest mark in the league. So obviously, they hit four in this game and three in the fifth inning alone. Because, that’s baseball. It wasn’t because Anderson didn’t have a pitch or two working, it was that he couldn’t consistently keep the ball down in the zone where it needed to be.

More: Indians OF Michael Brantley continuing positive progress

4. This game was also a pretty good example of how things can unravel when a starter goes through the order a third time. Alejandro De Aza and Yoenis Cespedes each took Anderson yard and then Neil Walker crushed the first pitch from Ross Detwiler into the seats. A couple of mistakes and a 1-1 game is 6-1. Prior to that inning, the only blemish was a Michael Conforto solo shot in the first inning.

5. Anderson worked hard all spring to develop his curveball, and he made a mistake with it to Cespedes. And a hitter like Cespedes won’t allow those types of mistakes to go unpunished very often, especially with a still-developing pitch. “I never want to dwell on pitches that I choose to throw, but in that situation, I got beat with my fourth-best pitch,” Anderson said. “I left it up and he hit it out.”

More: Indians manager Terry Francona discusses honoring Larry Doby as well as Jackie Robinson

6. The Indians certainly made it a game, but they waited until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, thus giving a bunch of beat writers minor heart attacks.

7. This was a pretty sleepy game in the ninth. Two outs, it’s 6-2, there’s a runner on. Then Carlos Santana belts a two-run home run. And Yan Gomes singles. And then Marlon Byrd—suddenly the tying run—singles him home (after a wild pitch moved Gomes to second base). Then Juan Uribe walks, and the tying run is in scoring position.

8. But, it was too little, too late. Jose Ramiez flied out to end it. It’s sometimes amazing how a game can seem so one-sided but then in a span of 4-5 batters, all of a sudden the 27th out means everything. Indians manager Terry Francona certainly appreciated the club being in a home-run-heavy losing effort and turning it into a one-at-bat game.

9. Said Francona, “I'll always feel like we're going to win. If we do that enough— I don’t think we want to be down four going into the ninth real often— but if we do that enough, we’ll win one of those.”

10. Also, showing a little predictive nature, Francona said before the game that veteran third baseman Juan Uribe would be fine despite his .053 batting average to start the season. Uribe responded to that by going 3-for-4 with a walk.

11. So the Indians are now 4-4 and Josh Tomlin will make his first start of the season on Saturday. It’s possible that rehabbing outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall will return to Cleveland soon, requiring a move on the 25-man roster. There a couple ways the Indians could go with it, since the versatility of Jose Ramirez affords them a fifth outfielder when needed. Anderson struggled with keeping the ball down on Friday night, but the Indians have shown plenty of confidence in him and he pitched well in his first start this season. It’ll be interesting to see which way they go when Chisenhall returns.

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Indians can’t contain long ball, lose to New York Mets 6-5 despite comeback

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 15, 2016

The team that had shown the least amount of muscle in baseball flexed plenty of it Friday night, as the Indians fell to the suddenly powerful New York Mets 6-5.

The Mets entered Friday night with two home runs as a team, the lowest mark in baseball. That was until they launched four home runs and three in the fifth inning alone, breaking open a deadlocked score and ending Indians starting pitcher Cody Anderson’s night.

The Indians waited as long as they possibly could to respond, but back they came.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Mets comfortably leading 6-2, Carlos Santana got a bit of revenge for a just-missed home run earlier in the game, when he hammered a two-run home run to right-center to make it 6-4. Yan Gomes then singled up the middle, all of sudden bringing Marlon Byrd to the plate representing the tying run. Byrd followed with a bloop single against Mets closer Jeurys Familia to score Gomes, making it 6-5. Uribe, who ended an 0-for-18 skid Friday night, walked to put the tying run in scoring position.

Familia, though, ended the Indians’ rally by getting Jose Ramirez to fly out to left field to end the game. It was a loud ending to a game that was quiet with the exception of the top of the fifth inning.

The Indians (4-4) and Mets (4-5) both brought home a run in the first inning and then sailed to the fifth. Mets outfielder Alejandro De Aza then opened that inning with a solo home run, making it 2-1. After Anderson recorded to outs and nearly escaped with minimal damage, things spiraled. Outfielder Michael Conforto, who homered in the first inning, singled and was followed by designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes’s two-run home run to center field to push the Mets’ lead to 4-1.

First baseman Lucas Duda then slapped a single to left field, prompting Indians manager Terry Francona out of the dugout, Anderson to the showers and relief pitcher Ross Detwiler to the mound. Detwiler’s first pitch to second baseman Neil Walker was deposited into the seats in left field, capping the Mets’ fifth inning and power surge 6-1.

The Indians got a run back in the bottom of the fifth but couldn’t keep the line moving. Outfielder Rajai Davis opened with a single up the middle and second baseman Jason Kipnis followed with a double over De Aza’s head in center field to score him. But from there, Mets starting pitcher and former Indians pitcher Bartolo Colon settled down to end the threat.

Anderson (0-1) finished the night allowing five earned runs on nine hits and one walk and striking out five in 4 2/3 innings pitched. Colon (1-1) gave up eight hits and walked one in 5 1/3 innings but allowed just the two runs to go with five strikeouts.

But it was all too little, too late, as the Mets’ outbreak of power in the fifth inning provided enough offense to carry Colon and the Mets’ bullpen.

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Indians manager Terry Francona discusses honoring Larry Doby as well as Jackie Robinson

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 15, 2016
DobyStatue

Friday was Jackie Robinson Day around baseball, in which every player and manager wears No. 42 to honor the man who broke baseball’s color barrier. Prior to Friday’s game, manager Terry Francona discussed the trials and tribulations that Robinson and his family went through, and how absurd it was that something like that even had to happen.

“I think it’s so important to recognize and pay tribute to him, what he went through,” Francona said. “I think it goes beyond baseball. At times I hope that we’re celebrating the right things. The fact of what he had to endure is hard to imagine. And when you think about that, how embarrassing it is that somebody’s treated differently because of the color of their skin. Nobody’s ever going to be able to explain that one to me where I understand it.”

Francona also turned his attention to Larry Doby, the first black player to play in the American League. While honoring Robinson, Francona wouldn’t mind seeing some additional tribute paid to Doby as well, as he went through many of the same things.

“I hope the league will allow us to wear his 14 some time,” Francona said. “What was he, two months behind Jackie? I’m sure the taunts and the life was not [much different] because he was two months behind. What he had to endure was incredible also.”

Last July the Indians unveiled a Larry Doby statue that stands beyond right-center field, beside Bob Feller and Jim Thome.

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Indians OF Michael Brantley continuing positive progress

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 15, 2016

As Indians outfielder Michael Brantley has rehabbed from offseason shoulder surgery, much of the focus hasn’t just been on how he’s felt during minor league assignments but also how he’s bounced back the next day.

Brantley went 1-for-2 in a rehab assignment Thursday night for Double-A Akron. He’s gotten all positive feedback this week in two rehab assignments.

“I feel good, very excited,” Brantley said. “It was good to hit BP today, so it’s almost like a back-to-back. … I’m very excited [with] where I’m at. My shoulder’s responded very well. I understand it’s still a process, but all good signs so far.”

Brantley is now slated to play Saturday in Double-A Akron and then likely play every other day, per Indians manager Terry Francona.

“I think he feels pretty good about himself,” Francona said. “He’s going to work out with us [Friday] an he’ll go back to Akron tomorrow and play about six or seven innings, depending on the volume, the length of innings, things like that. And he’ll go every other day like that for a couple more days. He’s doing pretty well.”

The next key milestone for Brantley is to play in back-to-back games. He said on Friday that he feels good enough to do that, though the team will wait a few days to make sure his shoulder can handle the workload.

“We’ll certainly talk to him as he goes, but I think that’s probably [realistic],” Francona said. I think the best way to put it is we want to make sure this works. We’d hate to get him back here and then find out that maybe he’s not bouncing back or he’s not ready to bounce back.”

Outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall, on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist impingement, is slated to play back-to-back days for Double-A Akron and then meet with the team on Sunday. It’s likely that Chisenhall is only a few days from returning to the Indians.

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Indians OF Michael Brantley goes 1-for-2 in rehab assignment, is “very happy” with shoulder

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 14, 2016

Indians outfielder Michael Brantley played in his second rehab assignment and his first with Double-A Akron Thursday night, going 1-for-2 and leaving the night feeling good about how his surgically repaired shoulder has felt this week.

Brantley, still rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, softly grounded out to first base in his first at-bat and later roped a single to right-center field on the first pitch he saw.

“Felt great,” Brantley said. “Glad to be back out there. [It is] another day closer to getting back up to the big leagues. It was a good start. … I was very happy with the way it responded. It’s in a good spot.”

Brantley appeared in two Cactus League games in Goodyear, Ariz. in March but then felt soreness and was shut down. Tuesday night’s game with Triple-A Columbus was his first in-game action in about three weeks. He then did light hitting work on Wednesday before moving to Double-A Akron.

“Shoulder bounced back very well,” Brantley said. “I can’t put a percentage on it, but I know I’m doing great. After Day 1 I could bounce back. I felt like I could play a game the next day. Good signs.”

Brantley added that he hasn’t been told too much about the plan going forward, though he will be working out in Cleveland on Friday as the team returns home to face the New York Mets.

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Indians cruise past Tampa Bay Rays 6-0 behind Danny Salazar, Marlon Byrd

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 14, 2016

Danny Salazar threw six scoreless innings and three Indians hitters belted their first home runs of the season in a 6-0 win against Tampa Bay Thursday afternoon.

Salazar (2-0) struck out nine while allowing just three hits and three walks, lowering his season ERA to 0.79. Zach McAllister, Bryan Shaw and Trevor Bauer all tossed an inning in relief.

Offensively, the Indians got to Rays (3-6) ace Chris Archer (0-3) in the sixth inning. Leading 1-0 after Francisco Lindor singled home Roberto Perez in the fifth, Marlon Byrd got ahold of an Archer offering for a two-run home run, stretching the lead to 3-0. Rajai Davis then added a solo shot off of Rays reliever Steve Geltz. In the seventh, Tyler Naquin singled home a run before Jose Ramirez tacked on a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning, capping the Indians’ scoring.

The Indians (4-3) now return home to face last year’s National League Champion New York Mets with a three-game weekend series.

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Indians SP Carlos Carrasco turns in superb performance in 4-1 win against Tampa Bay Rays

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 13, 2016

Last season, Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was one out away from tossing a no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays. For much of the night on Wednesday, he wasn’t far off that pace.

Carrasco allowed just one hit in seven innings before giving up three in the eighth, resulting in his only run allowed. By then, the Indians (3-3) had already built a four-run lead. Carrasco received some assistance for the final four outs, as Rajai Davis threw out Tampa Bay’s Curt Casali at the plate to end the eighth and Cody Allen came on to record his second save of the season in the ninth.

Doubles by Davis and Mike Napoli, a single by Jason Kipnis, a groundout by Francisco Lindor and an error brought home three runs in the top of the fourth inning against Rays (3-5) starter Drew Smyly (0-2), giving Carrasco (1-0) some breathing room. In the top of the eighth, Kipnis added on with his first home run of the season.

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Indians, Corey Kluber fall to Tampa Bay Rays 5-1

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 12, 2016

The Indians led for most of the night until things fell apart in the eighth inning in a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Indians (2-3) led 1-0 thanks to Francisco Lindor’s first home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth inning off of Rays (3-4) starter Matt Moore. From there, Corey Kluber (0-2) cruised until the Rays tied it 1-1 in the seventh after Corey Dickerson doubled and scored on Desmond Jennings’ RBI single.

In the eighth, things quickly went down hill. With a runner on, Logan Forsythe ended Kluber’s night with a two-run home run to give the Rays a 3-1 lead. Cody Allen entered the game, walked Logan Morrison and then allowed a two-run home run to Evan Longoria.

Kluber threw 7 2/3 innings, allowed three runs on four hits and two walks and struck out six in the loss.

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Series preview between Indians, Tampa Bay Rays

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 12, 2016

Hey look at that, the Indians might just have a decent shot at playing three games in a row.

The Indians enter this midweek series against the Tampa Bay Rays 2-2-3—two wins, two losses and three postponements. The first postponement, on Opening Day, was played the next day. The second, also against the Boston Red Sox, has yet to have a makeup date determined. The third, Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, will be made up as part of a traditional doubleheader on May 23.

Thankfully, for scheduling purposes, the Indians now travel to Tampa Bay (2-4), owners of a roof.

Because of the postponements, Josh Tomlin will be skipped in the rotation and pitch next weekend against the New York Mets (weather permitting, of course, though it’s supposed to reach into the 50s or 60s by then in Cleveland). Corey Kluber (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will take the mound Tuesday night against talented but often injured Matt Moore (0-0, 5.40 ERA). Moore, a lefty, means Rajai Davis will be in center field and Jose Ramirez will man left field.

Wednesday’s game will see Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 7.20 ERA) face off against another lefty, Drew Smyly (0-1, 6.75 ERA), before Danny Salazar (1-0, 1.69 ERA) takes the mound for a day game against Rays ace Chris Archer (0-2, 7.20 ERA).

The Indians went 5-2 against the Rays last season. This is also where Carrasco nearly pulled off a no-hitter last year, had it not been for Joey Butler, now with the Indians at Triple-A.

Due to the way the pitching matchups worked out, the Indians don’t have as much of a need to activate Lonnie Chisenhall off the 15-day disabled list, though that is likely to happen on Thursday or Friday when the team returns home, barring something unforeseen.

Other notes: On Tuesday right-handed pitcher Josh Martin, a Rule 5 draft selection by the San Diego Padres, was returned to the Indians. Martin will be assigned to Triple-A Columbus.

In the outfield, Chisenhall and left fielder Michael Brantley will each be making a rehab appearance for Triple-A Columbus Tuesday night. It’s Brantley’s first game action in about three weeks.

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Sunday’s Indians-White Sox game postponed with May 23 makeup date; Zach Walters, James Ramsey traded

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 10, 2016
Walters

The Indians haven’t had the best week to start the 2016 season weather-wise, and have now had a second game postponed after Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox was unplayable due to rain.

The Indians and White Sox will make up the game on May 23 as part of a traditional doubleheader. Thursday’s game against the Boston Red Sox was also postponed, though no makeup date has been announced.

Per MLB.com, the Indians will skip Josh Tomlin in the rotation and throw Corey Kluber on Tuesday against Tampa Bay. The Indians have a travel day on Monday.

Trade

The Indians on Sunday also dealt utility man Zach Walters and outfielder James Ramsey to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations.

Both Walters and Ramsey were designated for assignment, along with relief pitcher Giovanni Soto, to make room on the 40-man roster for outfielder Marlon Byrd and relief pitchers Ross Detwiler and Joba Chamberlain, who all made the club out of spring training as non-roster invitees.

Walters struggled with making contact in his time in Cleveland but stuck around due to his power off the bench and ability to play so many positions. This spring, he wanted to focus on his work in the outfield but couldn’t break out of a crowded competition. In 82 games (176 plate appearances) at the major-league level, Walters has hit .182 with 10 home runs and 63 strikeouts.

Ramsey was the lone return from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for starting pitcher Justin Masterson at the 2014 trade deadline. Last year he hit .243 with a .327 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 42 RBI for Triple-A Columbus.

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Indians RP Bryan Shaw comes unglued in 7-3 loss to Chicago White Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 9, 2016

Indians relief pitcher Bryan Shaw entered the seventh inning with a lead but couldn’t hold it, and the Indians fell to the Chicago White Sox 7-3 on Saturday.

The Indians led in the bottom of the seventh inning after Mike Napoli’s two-run home run in the top of the sixth and Yan Gomes’ solo home run in the top of the seventh made it 3-2 against White Sox ace Chris Sale (1-0).

Shaw relieved Cody Anderson, who allowed two runs on six hits and two walks and struck out two in six innings. The White Sox proceeded to pummel Shaw for five runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning, capped by Avisail Garcia’s three-run home run, opening up a 7-3 lead.

Josh Tomlin will take the mound against the White Sox’s Jose Quintana Sunday afternoon.

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Indians, Danny Salazar shut down Chicago White Sox 7-1

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 8, 2016

The Indians again jumped out to a sizable lead early in the game, but this time comfortably held it in a 7-1 snowy road win against the Chicago White Sox.

The Indians (2-1) jumped out to a 5-0 lead against White Sox (3-2) starter John Danks (0-1) in the second inning, in part by taking advantage of a poor play by White Sox catcher Alex Avila. With the bases loaded, Carlos Santana (1-for-4, 2 RBI) tapped a ball a few feet. Avila corralled it, turned to home, realized he was too late to get Jason Kipnis at the plate and threw to first, only to have it sail into right field, scoring two runs. Yan Gomes (2-for-3, 2 RBI) then added a third run on a sacrifice fly.

In the second inning, Jose Ramiez doubled, Rajai Davis tripled him home and Kipnis added another sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.

From there, starting pitcher Danny Salazar (1-0) cruised, allowing one run on only two hits to go with three walks and seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Trevor Bauer also tossed two scoreless, hitless innings in relief.

The Indians and White Sox meet again on Saturday. Cody Anderson will face White Sox ace Chris Sale.

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Thursday’s Indians-Red Sox game postponed; No makeup date announced

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 7, 2016

Thursday’s game between the Indians and Red Sox was postponed due to inclement weather.

No makeup date has been announced. Fans are encouraged to hold onto their tickets from Thursday’s game.

The Indians now travel to Chicago for a three-game series against the White Sox.

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Indians don’t see Rajai Davis, outfield as strict platoon

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 7, 2016
Naquin

The Indians have plenty of moving parts in their lineup, particularly in the outfield until Michael Brantley and Lonnie Chisenhall return from the disabled list.

In the team’s Opening Day game against Boston left-handed ace David Price, Rajai Davis received the start in center field, Marlon Byrd was in left field and Collin Cowgill took over in right field, allowing for an all-right-handed outfield to be in the lineup. On Wednesday, against right-handed starter Clay Buchholz, Byrd move to right field and Tyler Naquin (left-handed, center field) and Jose Ramirez (switch-hitter, left field) were inserted into the lineup.

It’s the same lineup manager Terry Francona went with on Thursday against right-hander Joe Kelly, perhaps setting a precedent with a focus on Davis. But, Francona says that isn’t the case. Davis and others aren’t in a strict platoon and won’t be switching in and out of the lineup dependent solely on the opposing starting pitcher. In this instance, it’s more about balancing the upcoming schedule—the Indians are slated to play three left-handers in their upcoming weekend series agains the Chicago White Sox—and making sure hitters aren’t spending multiple days in a row on the bench.

“It’s just trying to balance out everything and hopefully through this weather and things like that, keep guys feeling good and healthy and also productive,” Francona said Thursday. “But no, it’s not a platoon.”

Chisenhall (left wrist impingement) could come off the disabled list on April 12 and join the team in Tampa Bay. He’s expected to play in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Columbus Thursday night, weather permitting. Brantley is with the team in Cleveland until the Indians travel to Chicago, in which case he’ll also go to Columbus to continue to work toward returning to the lineup.

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Indians 7, Red Sox 6: Ryan Lewis’ 11 Walk-off Thoughts from a back-and-forth Indians win

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 7, 2016

Here are 11 Walk-off Thoughts on the Indians’ 7-6 win against the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night.

1. This game had a few plays that could have thrown away what probably should have been a pretty easy victory considering the Indians led 4-0 five batters into the game after Carlos Santana launched a three-run home run. Both were given explanations after the game.

2. The one on the field: Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez allowed a routine fly ball to drop in the sixth inning, right after back-to-back home runs cut the Indians lead to 5-4. That ended up being the tying run. After the game, Naquin said he asked Ramirez if he saw the ball. Ramirez didn’t, to which Naquin replied, “Me neither, bud.” By the time they did pick up the ball, it was too late. Indians manager Terry Francona said you can put the mistake on youth, but if you can’t see the ball, it doesn’t really matter how old you are.

3. And the one in the replay booth—In the eighth inning, Rajai Davis, on second base, tried to aggressively steal third base. He was called out, except a quick look at replays appeared to show he beat the throw. Oddly, the Indians didn’t challenge a key play that wasn’t just close, it appeared it should go their way. Francona took the blame for it, saying, “That was on me. I misheard and by the time I realized, it was too late. That’s on me, that’s a bad mistake.”

More: Indians' Bauer dealing with move to the bullpen

4. Wednesday night was a great example of how quickly a baseball game can spiral out of your control. The Indians were up 5-2. Carrasco was pitching well. The Indians were already into the Red Sox bullpen. Then, almost a nightmare scenario.

5. On the back-to-back home runs, Francona wanted Carrasco to get through two hitters in the sixth inning. That would allow lefty reliever Ross Detwiler to enter and face three left-handed hitters in the next four. Except, those two hitters just happened to both hit home runs to cut the Indians’ led to 5-4. Then Detwiler came in, and Naquin and Ramirez let the ball drop. Then came two walks. Then came another defensive mistake when Juan Uribe didn’t look back Brock Holt at third base. All of a sudden, it’s 7-6 Red Sox.

6. It probably makes the win more meaningful for an Indians team that around this time last year couldn’t buy a night like this. Juan Uribe erased his mistake with a sacrifice fly to tie it and in the seventh inning, Mike Napoli picked the right time for his first hit with the Indians, a solo shot that proved to be the winner. This is the type of win the Indians just couldn’t seem to consistently find last year.

7. Red Sox relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa threw Napoli a couple of splitters. Then, he threw one too many and paid for it. Said Napoli, “He threw me some good splits early in the count. Two strikes, I'm trying to shorten up and put the ball in play. He happened to hang me that split and I was able to put a good swing on it."



8. Naquin recorded the first hit of his major-league career, a single to right field. And it concluded a nine-pitch at-bat, something Francona liked to see out of a rookie hitter. Said Francona, “That’s great. I love that. That was a really good at-bat. You start to foul off some tough breaking balls and change-ups, you’re going to earn yourself some fastballs.”

9. Francona joked that Naquin might have barely touched the ground running to first, and he was right. Said Naquin, “Honestly, I didn't even really feel myself touch first base. I got to first and Hanley said something to me, 'Congrats.' I got to second and Pedroia and Bogaerts, those are pretty classy dudes. They have some good guys over there. It's greatly appreciated from my standpoint. It's just a great feeling, a very exciting moment for myself and my family.”

10. Of course David Ortiz was the one at the plate with two outs in the ninth of a one-run game. There aren’t many hitters above Ortiz on the list of guys you don’t want to face in that situation. And then he hits a ball to the wall in left field, Ramirez is battling the wind and nearly has it pop out of his glove.

11. Did Tito’s heart skip a beat? “Skipped a beat a few times tonight. Might have even stopped.”

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Mike Napoli’s home run lifts Indians to 7-6 win against Red Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 6, 2016

Mike Napoli’s first hit as a member of the Indians was a big one, and it was enough to overcome a botched sixth inning in a 7-6 Indians win against the Boston Red Sox Wednesday night.

Everything started off so well for the Indians. But, if not for Napoli and his solo home run in the seventh inning, it all would have been moot.

After struggling to do much of anything against Red Sox ace David Price in Tuesday’s Opening Day game, the Indians (1-1) almost couldn’t have started better against Wednesday’s starter, Clay Buchholz. Jose Ramirez singled and came around to score on a Jason Kipnis double to the gap in right-center field. Napoli then walked and Carlos Santana hit a no-doubter home run (estimated 431 feet) to center field. Five batters into the game and the Indians led 4-0.

The Red Sox (1-1) came back in the second inning when Brock Holt answered with a two-run home run off of Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. The Indians then got one of those runs back in the bottom half of that inning. Tyler Naquin worked a nine-pitch at-bat and picked up his first career major-league hit, a single to right field. He later scored on Ramirez’s single up the middle to make it 5-2.

Then came the sixth inning. Carrasco (five innings, four runs, seven hits, one walk, five strikeouts), still in the game, allowed back-to-back home runs to David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Those home runs cut the Indians’ lead to 5-4 and ended Carrasco’s night in favor of left-handed relief pitcher Ross Detwiler.

Chris Young hit a fly ball to left-center field that should have been an easy out, but Ramirez in left field and Naquin in center field didn’t communicate, allowing the ball to fall right in-between them. Two walks then loaded the bases and Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley hit a sacrifice fly to center field to tie it 5-5.

With Zach McAllister on the mound, Mookie Betts hit a ground ball to third baseman Juan Uribe, who might have had Holt out had he looked him back at third base. Uribe made the throw to first base for the second out, but the Red Sox took a 6-5 lead.

Uribe redeemed himself in the bottom half of the sixth. A Yan Gomes walk and a single by Marlon Byrd put runners on the corners, and Uribe again tied the game 6-6 with a sacrifice fly.

Enter Napoli in the seventh inning, who to that point hadn’t collected a hit. Facing Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa, Napoli got ahold of an offering and belted it to the bleacher seats in left field for the go-ahead shot.

Bryan Shaw escaped the eighth inning unharmed and Cody Allen picked up his first save of the season in the ninth inning, putting down the heart of the Red Sox order that included a close-call catch by Ramirez near the wall in left field to end the game.

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Indians’ Trevor Bauer dealing with move to bullpen

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 6, 2016
Bauer

It has been evident that Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer hasn’t been entirely pleased with his being relegated to the bullpen to start the 2016 season, just like any other starter. But, that isn’t necessarily a negative to the Indians.

After Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin were awarded the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in the starting rotation, Bauer didn’t make himself available to the media for a couple of days. On Monday he briefly spoke and responded to several questions in a row with, “As long as the team wins, it’s good.”

On Wednesday, Bauer spoke for a second time and said whenever and however the team wants him to pitch, he’ll do it.

“They tell me to go pitch and I pitch,” Bauer said. “Whatever they decide my role is, that’s what I go do. That’s the definition of being professional, right?”

Indians manager Terry Francona has said before that a player being upset with a demotion isn’t automatically a bad message to send. Essentially, the thought is that a player can be upset in the initial moment with a demotion or altered role and also do what the team needs.

“I thought the first day [Bauer] was mad, which we expected,” Francona said. “If somebody told me, I’d probably have been mad too. If he was glad, that would have set up a worse message. I didn’t think he was disrespectful, which is important.”

The Indians said in Goodyear, Ariz. when the announcements were made that the club still envisions Bauer as a pitcher who will make a “meaningful” number of starts this season. Eleven pitchers made starts for the Indians in 2015, so it’s likely Bauer will find his way to a number of starts this season.

“He knows he’s not been banished to the bullpen,” Francona said. “I think we fully expect he’ll help us in one way or another when he pitches and then at some point, I think it’s being realistic that you don’t go through the year with five starters. I wish we did, but the chances of that are very slim.”

Bauer is still only 25 years old and not eligible for arbitration. He’s carried with him a wealth of potential his entire career and had a quality spring. The Indians have had good luck with pitchers either being demoted or spending time in the bullpen before figuring things out as a starter.

“It’s helped [Carlos] Carrasco. Corey Kluber has taken a step back, gone back to Triple-A,” Francona said. “Danny Salazar went to Triple-A. Tomlin’s been in the bullpen and Triple-A. It’s been pretty much everybody, so it’s not like he’s the lone guy and he’s the only one it’s ever happened to and things like that. You see it with most guys.”

Francona pointed out this spring that it wasn’t an indictment on Bauer. There were other variables involved, such as the high notes Anderson and Tomlin ended on last season. Anderson also dedicated himself to an offseason strength and conditioning program and came to camp with an up-tick in velocity. Bauer has also been throwing harder, according to BrooksBaseball.net.

“If you turn it around, not sure what we would have said to Josh Tomlin, Cody Anderson,” Francona said. “So we try to weigh everything. We talked about it a lot, because it’s important. I think we just felt like for our team, it was the best thing to do.”

For Bauer, it’s certainly been an adjustment. He went to the bullpen toward last season but didn’t have much experience there.

“Just new. It’s different,” Bauer said when asked about the toughest part about the move. “Anytime something changes, it’s just different. It takes a while to get used to. … I haven’t had time to make an adjustment yet. Just getting going.”

As for going back to the starting rotation, Bauer says if the team asks him to make the move back, he’ll simply adjust again.

“They just told me I was going to the pen, so I’m just trying to help the team win and be ready for whatever they ask me to do,” Bauer said. “They tell me when to go and what role to be, and I go out there and try do it to the best of my ability.”

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Video: Indians manager Terry Francona discusses Trevor Bauer in the bullpen

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 6, 2016

Here is Indians manager Terry Francona discussing Trevor Bauer and how he's handled the move to the bullpen to start the 2016 season.

Bauer made his 2016 debut on Tuesday and was taken deep by Boston's David Ortiz for a two-run home run.

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Red Sox 6, Indians 2: Ryan Lewis' 8 Walk-off Thoughts from Tuesday’s frigid Opening Day loss

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 6, 2016

Here are eight Walk-off thoughts on the Indians’ 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox in what was the coldest season-opening game in recorded franchise history.

1. Goodness gracious it was cold. It was 34-degrees at first pitch. The closest temperature in recorded franchise history to start a season was 36-degrees in 1907. Kudos to all the fans that showed up during a weekday, at 1:10 p.m., on short notice, in that weather. It’s often cold in Cleveland at the beginning of the baseball season, but this was an extreme example of it.

2. Several players after the game acknowledged how cold it was, and how tough it can be to play in those conditions. But they also recognized that both teams play in the same conditions, and it’s no excuse. Said Jason Kipnis, “Both teams are doing it. Both teams are going through it. It’s part of the game. Part of baseball. If you want to play late in October, it’s going to be cold [then], too. So you get used to it and battle through it.”

MOREIndians notebook: OF Lonnie Chisenhall to begin rehab assignment Thursday; starting rotation altered

3. Corey Kluber was good, but not quite his usual self. He tried to throw Mookie Betts a fastball down-and-away to induce a ground ball and instead placed it over the middle. Betts belted it for a two-run home run. Then, in the sixth, the Red Sox rattled off three straight singles. On a frigid day and facing Red Sox ace (and $200-plus million man) David Price, that was going to be enough.

MORE: Indians Opening Day: Kent State product Travis Shaw comfortable in starting role with Boston Red Sox

4. Am not going to get into the validity of the question, or if it was warranted, because that could take up a lot of space here, but Kluber responded curtly to a question when asked how he thought he pitched. It was quite a bit of emotion from the normally stoic Kluber. Said Kluber, “Are you writing an opinion column on it? I'll answer a question about the game, but my opinion on something? Let's go a different direction there.”



5. It wasn’t a great day for Indians debuts. Among the five new veterans in the lineup, Rajai Davis, Mike Napoli, Marlon Byrd, Juan Uribe and Collin Cowgill combined to go 1-for-15 with 12 strikeouts, two walks and an RBI. Tyler Naquin also made his MLB debut and struck out. Napoli, in particular, was called out on strikes his last three plate appearances and was visibly upset with each strike-three call. Then again, those stats pop up occasionally with Price.

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Indians fall to Red Sox 6-2 on Opening Day

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 5, 2016

In the coldest season-opening game in recorded franchise history, the Indians and ace Corey Kluber fell to the Boston Red Sox 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon.

The game was originally scheduled for Monday, but the low temperatures and icy conditions forced a postponement. The weather on Tuesday was dry but not much warmer, as the 34-degree weather at first pitch bested the 36-degree first-pitch temperature in 1907.

The Red Sox (1-0) struck first. In the top of the third and with a runner on first, Mookie Betts drove a Kluber offering into the bleacher seats in left field for a two-run home run.

The Indians (0-1) responded in the bottom of the fourth against Red Sox ace David Price. Singles by Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana set up Yan Gomes, who just got a ground ball through the infield for an RBI-single. Aided by Santana advancing to third on Gomes’ single, Marlon Byrd tied the score 2-2 with a sacrifice fly to left field.

The Red Sox knocked Kluber around in the sixth with three straight inning-opening singles. The last, by Brock Holt, gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. A wild pitch then allowed an insurance run to score.

In the ninth, Trevor Bauer entered the game out of the bullpen and struggled. Bauer walked the first batter he faced and then allowed a two-run home run to David Ortiz, making it 6-2. Hanley Ramirez nearly went back-to-back with Ortiz but missed a home run by a few feet. Bauer eventually got out of the inning with no further damage.

But, after the two-run fourth, the Indians’ offense struggled to give Kluber much support, harkening back to a recurring problem in 2015. In all, Red Sox pitchers recorded 15 strikeouts, 10 of them coming from Price.

Kluber threw 5 1/3 innings, allowed four runs on nine hits and struck out five in his 2016 season debut.

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Opening Day lineups between Indians and Red Sox, Take Two

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 5, 2016

Here are Tuesday’s Opening Day lineups between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox.

Red Sox
1. Mookie Betts 9
2. Dustin Pedroia 4
3. Xander Bogaerts 6
4. David Ortiz DH
5. Hanley Ramirez 3
6. Travis Shaw 5
7. Brock Holt 7
8. Blake Swihart 2
9. Jackie Bradley 8
SP: David Price

Indians
1. Rajai Davis 8
2. Jason Kipnis 4
3. Francisco Lindor 6
4. Mike Napoli 3
5. Carlos Santana DH
6. Yan Gomes 2
7. Marlon Byrd 7
8. Juan Uribe 5
9. Collin Cowgill 9
SP: Corey Kluber

Notes: With Red Sox ace and left-hander David Price on the mound, Collin Cowgill is in the lineup for Opening Day. Boston is expected to throw right-handers on Wednesday and Thursday, which means Tyler Naquin will be making his Indians debut this series.

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Indians announce Monday’s Opening Day game postponed to Tuesday

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 4, 2016

The Indians have just announced that Monday’s Opening Day game against the Boston Red Sox has been postponed to Tuesday.

First pitch, per the team, will be 1:10 p.m. and gates will open two hours earlier.

Indians manager Terry Francona said during his pre-game press conference with reporters that they would be playing the game.

The weather is expected to be roughly the same on Tuesday, so it was thought the two teams would play on Monday as scheduled.

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Indians expect to get good news with C Roberto Perez

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 4, 2016

The Indians put catcher Roberto Perez through a series of drills and tests on Monday and feel that he is ready to play, though the team still has to wait to hear from the league.

Perez said he took two foul tips to the mask in Saturday’s spring training game. The first one was hard, but the second one was what really got him. He then started showing concussion symptoms.

“I felt weird,” he said. “I always have a lot of energy. When I came to the dugout, I wasn’t feeling right. I wasn’t feeling myself. I was glad that they took me out of the game and nothing serious happened.”

Perez said he didn’t have any further symptoms on Sunday and felt good on Monday. Indians manager Terry Francona expects Perez to be ready to go.

“Everything went really well,” Francona said. “He went out and threw, ran, did everything, probably more than he would today. The doctors had a look at him, evaluated him, and gave him a clean bill of health. Now, we have to respect the process, send the paperwork into Major League Baseball.”

Francona added that he likes that MLB has this process in place.

“It’s a good rule,” he said. “If somebody has a sprained ankle, if you hurt your ankle worse, you hurt your ankle worse. If you start messing around with somebody’s brain, you’re asking for trouble down the road. So I think it’s a really good rule and I understand why you have to go through the process to get a guy back and clear him.”

If Perez is good to go, the Indians will officially place Tommy Hunter on the 15-day disabled list and purchase the contract of relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain.

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Indians DFA Zach Walters, Giovanni Soto; Roberto Perez could have concussion; Lineup set

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 3, 2016
robertoperez

The Indians made a couple of moves on Sunday, with another one tentatively scheduled ahead of Monday’s Opening Day game against the Boston Red Sox.

The Indians designated utility man Zach Walters and Giovanni Soto for assignment to make room for outfielder Marlon Byrd and relief pitcher Ross Detwiler on the 40-man roster. To allow Detwiler and Byrd to be added to the active 25-man roster, the club also officially placed outfielders Michael Brantley (shoulder surgery, retroactive to March 25) and Lonnie Chisenhall (left wrist impingement, retroactive to March 28) on the 15-day disabled list.

A third addition will come on Monday, but it’s dependent on a medical test. Per Indians manager Terry Francona, catcher Roberto Perez took a foul tip in Saturday’s spring training game against the Texas Rangers and could potentially miss time with a concussion. Perez will be tested either Sunday night or Monday morning to see if he is ready to go.

If Perez is ready, then relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain will have his contract purchased. If Perez can’t go, then the club will purchase the contract of Adam Moore from Triple-A Columbus. Chamberlain’s Cleveland debut, if Perez has to miss time, would then have to wait. Either way, a third corresponding 40-man roster move will have to be made.

In terms of the 25-man roster, relief pitcher Tommy Hunter—currently acting as a placeholder for the 25th spot—will be placed on the disabled list to allow the club to add Chamberlain or Moore after the 40-man roster move. Hunter can remain on the roster an extra day before hitting the DL to allow the Indians to wait and see with Perez and only make one 40-man roster move as opposed to needing two.

Lineup set

There were plenty of question marks surrounding the Indians’ Opening Day lineup, especially when Francona often dislikes to tip his hand.

On Sunday, now void of any spring training games, Francona said the lineup would likely mirror Saturday’s lineup against the Rangers. The Indians face Red Sox left-handed ace David Price on Monday.

That means Rajai Davis will be hitting leadoff and playing center field. He’ll be followed by Jason Kipnis in the No. 2 spot with Francisco Lindor hitting in the No. 3 hole. Mike Napoli, who hits lefties well, hits fourth followed by Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes. The bottom of the lineup is expected to feature Marlon Byrd in left field, Juan Uribe at third base and Collin Cowgill hitting ninth and playing right field.

Francona added that after Price, the Red Sox are expected to throw two right-handers, which will allow Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin to see some opening series action.

It’s entirely possible that Francona changes his mind or another variable comes into play, and changes have to be made. What is known is that the Indians will need to find some run support for Corey Kluber, and doing it against Price isn’t normally easy.

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