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Indians 10, Twins 2: Wednesday’s One Last Thing on Jose Ramirez’s “good swing, poor judgement”

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 1, 2015

The Indians beat the Minnesota Twins 10-2 Wednesday night to cap a doubleheader that began with a 7-1 loss.

And yet, with one swing and a bat-flip, the effects of the latter game will likely leak to Thursday.

Wednesday’s One Last Thing: Jose Ramirez’s bat flip really ticked off the Twins, and the Indians didn’t seem to love it either.

In the eighth inning of the Indians’ 10-2 win Wednesday night, Jose Ramirez launched a three-run home run off of Twins pitcher Ricky Nolasco. But it wasn’t the swing that the Twins will remember. It’s what came afterward.

As he watched his home run, Ramirez held his bat high, jogged a couple of steps and then flipped it toward the Twins’ dugout. He added his own exclamation point to his home run, and it wasn’t received very well. Several members of the Twins immediately ran to the top step of the dugout and were yelling at Ramirez when he crossed home plate.

Nolasco reportedly called the bat-flip a “horse****” move and that, “He’ll get his, don’t worry.” Indians manager Terry Francona didn’t seem to be thrilled with it either.

“Nice, good swing. Poor judgement,” Francona said. “I think hitting the home run is enough. He’ll learn—hopefully not the hard way—but he’ll learn.”

More: Indians to shut down LF Michael Brantley with shoulder inflammation.

Ramirez said he wasn’t trying to show the Twins up, though that’s certainly how they took it. Rather, he said he got caught up in the moment.

“I noticed that they got a little bit upset because of my reaction, but sometimes the emotion in the game possess you,” Ramirez said via Danny Salazar, who was translating.

In the ninth inning, Eddie Rosario hit a home run of his own and had some words for Ramirez when he rounded second base.

Ramirez said he didn’t understand what Rosario said. And Francisco Lindor declined to say what he heard.

“Baseball player stuff,” Lindor said. “No one needs to know. Nothing bad, though.”

The Indians might have been fortunate that that was the only retaliation Wednesday night. Nolasco reportedly said after the game that he didn’t see the initial bat-flip and wasn’t aware it had happened until he got back to the dugout.

Had he seen it at the time, considering the reaction of the Twins’ dugout, the ending to Wednesday night’s game might have included a swift response. The worry for the Indians is that Lindor, the team’s prized shortstop and one of the biggest pieces to their future, was strolling into the batter’s box after Ramirez. Putting Lindor in a position to possibly get a fastball between the ribs isn’t ideal.

“I was worried a little bit when I saw Lindor at the plate,” Ramirez said. “I’m not trying to put anybody at risk.”

In terms of possible retaliation, Ramirez said he’ll take whatever comes.

“If they hit me, I’m going to take it,” he said.

Francona hopes next time, it’ll just be the home run.

“It’s not really what we’re looking for, because it was a beautiful swing,” Francona said. “I’d rather talk about that.”

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Indians split doubleheader with Minnesota Twins

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 30, 2015

Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco struggled in the first game before Cody Anderson was terrific in the second, and the results followed those performances as the Indians split their doubleheader with the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.

In the first game, Carrasco was knocked around early and the offense struggled to mount any kind of rally in a 7-1 loss.

Carrasco (14-12) lasted just three innings, allowing five runs on five hits and striking out five. He allowed a solo home run in the first inning to Twins first baseman Joe Mauer and was then knocked around in the fourth inning, unable to record an out.

Trevor Plouffe made it 2-0 with an RBI single to left field and later, with the bases loaded, Torii Hunter continued his onslaught against Indians pitching this season with a bases-clearing double, extending the Twins’ lead to 5-0.

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Indians to shut down LF Michael Brantley for remainder of season with shoulder inflammation

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 30, 2015

The Indians on Wednesday announced that left fielder Michael Brantley will be shut down for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Brantley injured his right shoulder diving for a ball in the Indians’ 3-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 22. An MRI Tuesday night revealed inflammation in that shoulder and that Brantley would need a cortisone shot. Brantley will receive the shot later today, effectively ending his season.

After resting, Brantley will go through normal activities to make sure his shoulder is fully healed heading into the offseason. Barring a miracle and an Indians’ bid to the postseason, that will be too late for the regular season.

Brantley will end the year hitting .310 with 15 home runs, 45 doubles and 84 RBI. He has a WAR, per FanGraphs, of 3.8.

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Tuesday night’s Cleveland Indians-Minnesota Twins game postponed; Traditional doubleheader Wednesday

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 30, 2015

The Indians’ game with the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night was postponed due to rain.

The Indians and Twins will play a traditional doubleheader Wednesday starting at 4:10 p.m, meaning the second game will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The gates at Progressive Field will open at 3:30 p.m.

The Indians will throw Carlos Carrasco in the first game and then Cody Anderson in the second. The Twins will counter with Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey.

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Twins 4, Indians 2: Monday’s One Last Thing on Jason Kipnis trying to find some team energy

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 28, 2015

The Indians lost a crucial game to the Minnesota Twins 4-2 Monday night.

Corey Kluber was knocked around early and the Indians’ offense struggled to figure out Tommy Milone. The loss was a crushing blow to the Indians’ postseason chances, which were already dwindling.

Monday’s One Last Thing: The Indians came out flat and Jason Kipnis was trying to stir up some energy when the team badly needed it.

The Indians didn’t have as much energy as Kipnis would have liked on Monday night. Being right on the cusp of being eliminated from postseason contention and facing one of the teams the Indians have to beat isn’t the right time to be low on energy.

In the sixth inning, Kipnis drove a ball to deep center that Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks couldn’t haul in. The ball rolled away and Kipnis rounded third, headed for an inside-the-park home run. With the Indians being down by three runs and there being no outs, Indians third base coach Mike Sarbaugh held Kipnis at third. When he got there, Kipnis looked toward the Indians’ dugout, waved his hand as if to get them on their feet and yelled, “Let’s go.”

“I was trying. It was a little low,” Kipnis said of the energy Monday night, not helped by there being only 10,007 fans in attendance. “Not many people here tonight, but not much energy in our dugout either. You can’t let it affect you at all. We’ve got our business to handle, we’ve got to take care of it. If you felt the way the game was going and the energy throughout the crowd and throughout our dugout, it was low the first couple innings. I was trying to do whatever I could. Jolt anything.”

More: The mentoring of Francisco Lindor is still on-going

The Indians’ attendance woes obviously aren't anything new. But when a team is at the end of September in a wild card chase, the empty seats end up being louder than the ones with fans in them.

Kipnis wasn’t happy with the energy level of the players inside that dugout.

“It hurts, it hurts,” he said of the loss. “I thought we could have came out with a little more energy. I don’t know. I just thought we could have done a better job all around. I think the way the Twins came out, obviously you can’t just force the issue and say, “Hey, let’s go get a double, a double and a home run” or something like that. But Kluber limited them and did his job, held them down the rest of the way and kept us in the game. We should have scored some more runs off their pitcher and I thought we could have done a better job.”

This is about the worst time for the Indians to be low on energy. Especially when being eliminated from the postseason is near.

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Indians, Corey Kluber knocked around in 4-2 loss to Minnesota Twins

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 28, 2015

The Indians entered this current series likely needing a sweep and quite a bit of help from other teams to pull off a long-shot comeback and climb back into the postseason picture.

That dream lasted about 15 minutes into Monday night, as ace Corey Kluber and the Indians were knocked around in a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field Monday night.

The damage from the Twins’ bats was almost immediate. With two outs, Joe Mauer doubled off the wall in left-center and Miguel Sano followed with a double off his own that nearly his the same spot, giving the Twins (81-75) a 1-0 lead.

Trevor Plouffe then crushed a Kluber offering into the seats above the left-field wall that Mauer and Sano had just peppered, pushing the Twins to a 3-0 advantage before the Indians had a chance to bat.

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Indians nearing insurmountable deficit in season’s final week, likely need to repeat end to 2013

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 27, 2015

The final week of the 2015 regular season gets underway on Monday but on Sunday, the Indians might have been delivered the final knockout blow to their realistic postseason hopes.

The Indians fell to the Kansas City Royals 3-0. Equally important, all three of the other teams involved in the chase for the second and final wild card spot won.

The Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 4-2. The Los Angeles Angles beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 to remain only a half-game back. And the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 7-1 and are 1.5 games back.

The Indians, with Sunday’s loss, fell to 4 games back of Houston. It’s a wide margin to make up for a team that’s running out of time. And it’s an especially wide margin considering the Indians need to make up significant ground on three times, not just one.

Stranger things have happened—like the Indians winning 10 consecutive games to make the postseason in 2013—but the odds aren’t in their favor. Those types of runs don’t come around very often, and even if it did this week, it still might not be enough.

The Indians will face the Twins four times and the Boston Red Sox three times and likely need to win all of their remaining games—a sweep in the Twins series is necessary to put more control in their own hands. They then need the Astros and Angels to both falter down the stretch. The Astros have three-game series against Seattle and Arizona and the Angels have Oakland for three games and the Rangers for four.

An important note: As of today, the Astros have played two more games than the Indians, as they have an off-day on Thursday and the Indians have yet to have a game rescheduled from their series with Detroit.

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Carlos Carrasco throws one-hitter, Indians cruise to 6-0 win against Kansas City Royals

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 25, 2015

Carlos Carrasco threw one of the best outings of his career and the Indians easily dispatched the Kansas City Royals 6-0 Friday night.

Carrasco (14-11) allowed just one hit over nine shutout innings to go with 15 strikeouts. He had a no-hitter into the seventh inning until Alex Rios singled to center field.

Jose Ramirez hit a solo home run with one out in the first inning in what turned out to be all the offensive support Carrasco would need. In the second inning, Abraham Almonte added a two-run home run.

Roberto Perez hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning and Francisco Lindor drove in a run with a fielder’s choice in the ninth.

The win brought the Indians back to .500 at 76-76 this season.

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Indians get off to quick start, beat Minnesota Twins 6-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 24, 2015

The Indians avoided a three-game sweep and beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 Thursday night.

Jason Kipnis started the game with a lead-off home run in the first inning and Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a two-RBI single a few batters later, giving the Indians a quick 3-0 lead.

In the third inning, Carlos Santana added three more with a three-run home run to right field.

Indians (75-76) Starting pitcher Cody Anderson (6-3) avoided trouble for much of the night, allowing just one run on 10 hits and striking out four in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Bryan Shaw was roughed up by the Twins (78-74) in the eighth for two runs and Cody Allen worked the ninth and notched his 32nd save of the season.

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Indians fall to Minnesota Twins for second straight night 4-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 23, 2015

The Indians again fell short against the Minnesota Twins in a 4-2 loss. And more importantly, they again failed to make up ground in the American League wild card race.

The Los Angeles Angels have done the Indians a favor, beating the Houston Astros two nights in a row. The Indians, though, haven’t been able to capitalize.

After Wednesday night’s slate, the Indians remain 4.5 games back of Houston and now trail the Twins by 3.5 games, the Angels by 3 games and the Baltimore Orioles by half a game in the race for the second wild card spot.

Corey Kluber dropped to 8-15 this season after he ran into trouble in the fourth inning, allowing all four Twins runs. He allowed a home run to Brian Dozier and a couple of doubles and couldn’t get out of the inning.

The Indians (74-76) couldn’t answer against Twins (78-73) starter Phil Hughes (11-9) until the ninth inning when Carlos Santana hit a two-run home run with two outs against Glen Perkins, but it was too little, too late.

Left fielder Michael Brantley did not play after hurting his right shoulder Tuesday night.

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Indians fall to Minnesota Twins 3-1; Michael Brantley leaves with shoulder injury

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 22, 2015

The Indians had a tough night Tuesday, falling to the Minnesota Twins 3-1 in a much-needed game and losing Michael Brantley to a shoulder injury.

Brantley is currently being evaluated for a right shoulder injury after he hurt it while attempting to make a diving catch on an RBI-triple by Aaron Hicks in the third inning. That put the Twins up 1-0, and Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer each followed with doubles to push their lead to 3-0.

Brantley left the game at that point and was replaced in left field by Michael Martinez.

Danny Salazar took the loss for the Indians and fell to 13-9 this season. He threw six innings, allowed three runs on five hits and struck out four. For the Twins (77-73), Ervin Santana (6-4) gave up just one run on five hits while striking out seven in seven innings pitched.

This loss again puts the Indians below .500 at 74-75 and costs them a chance to make up ground on the Houston Astros in the wild card, as they lost to Los Angeles 4-3. As of this typing, the Indians remain 4.5 games back in the race and are now 2.5 games back of the Twins.

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Indians 6, White Sox 3: Sunday’s One Last Thing on Lonnie Chisenhall carving out his niche

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 21, 2015

The Indians topped the Chicago White Sox 6-3 Sunday.

Josh Tomlin earned his sixth win of the season and Lonnie Chisenhall had a home run, a double and three RBI.

Sunday’s One Last Thing: Sunday was just another step in Lonnie Chisenhall’s path to solidifying his status with the team going forward.

It was only a few weeks ago that Chisenhall was without a spot with the club in Cleveland. He’s transformed in that time, becoming one of the better right fielders in the game and one of the hotter hitters for the Indians through August.

Chisenhall has always hit well against Danks, entering that game hitting .571 in his career against him. But any game in which Chisenhall shows he can be more than a simple platoon hitter will only boost his value to the club.

More: Indians players sign 'contract' outlining who they want to be as a team.

Indians manager Terry Francona has picked his spots with Chisenhall, playing him against select lefties every now and then. Chisenhall still has work to do, but being able to find his way into the starting lineup more often gives the Indians one less hole to fill in the offseason.

Chisenhall went to right field so he could be available in more situations. His ability to his lefties would only do that two-fold.

“Today was a good day for him to play,” Francona said. “Millsy and I talked about it last night, I didn’t want him to go four or five days without playing, and he had had some success off Danks before, so I thought it was a good day for him to play, especially with a day off tomorrow. Shoot, he jumped on the first fastball, so that really gave us a lift. I just think, every once in a while, facing a guy like that is probably good for him, too. Besides the fact that he helped us win the game.”

A lot has been made of Chisenhall’s advancements as a right fielder, which now seems to be his best attribute. It’s his offense that will show just how much of a role he can have with the 2016 Indians.

Francona had hoped the Indians could mimic what Kansas City did with third baseman Mike Moustakas, when they sent a struggling hitter down to Triple-A and he came back a much better player. It’s worked, and Chisenhall has attributed that trip to Columbus with his turn-around.

“It’s a long season. I attribute it a lot to confidence,” Chisenhall said. “You want to go up there feeling good about yourself and that’s not easy to do looking up at the scoreboard and not seeing good stuff. So you gotta go down to Columbus, get a little breather, start seeing a few balls drop and then coming back swinging it.”

Chisenhall realized he was playing himself out of the Indians’ long-term plans. He needed a way to make himself invaluable. He’s done that, and it seems he’s continuing to build on it.

“When I went down there, when I asked to play different spots, I said, ‘I’m a baseball player. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed, be stubborn and stay at third,’” Chisenhall said. ‘I told them, ‘I can play first, I can play outfield,’ whatever they need me to do. I consider myself a baseball player. [So I] come in here every day and try to do that.”

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Lonnie Chisenhall, Josh Tomlin lead Indians to 6-3 win against Chicago White Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 20, 2015

Just as “Johnny Football” was throwing a couple long touchdown passes to lead the Browns, “Lonnie Baseball” launched a home run and a double to compliment Josh Tomlin’s strong outing and lift the Indians over the Chicago White Sox 6-3 Sunday at Progressive Field.

Facing left-handed White Sox starting pitcher John Danks (7-13) in the second inning, Lonnie Chisenhall—at times called by a moniker mimicking the Browns’ quarterback—belted a two-run home run to right field to put the Indians on top 2-0. Abraham Almonte followed with a double and Francisco Lindor added a two-out RBI single to left field, pushing the Indians’ lead to 3-0.

That was all the offense Tomlin (6-2) would need, as he tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and striking out eight in another strong outing, as he’s locked down a spot in the starting rotation for the last couple weeks of the season.

The Indians (74-74)—and Chisenhall—added on in the sixth. Yan Gomes opened the inning with a double and Chisenhall followed with a double of his own, bringing it to 4-0. After Jason Kipnis walked, Francisco Lindor made it 5-0 with a sacrifice fly to center field and Michael Brantley hit his Major-League leading 45th double off the wall in center field in score Kipnis from first and cap the Indians’ scoring.

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White Sox 4, Indians 3: Saturday’s One Last Thing on mistakes in a big race

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 19, 2015

The Indians lost to the White Sox 4-3 Saturday night.

Trailing 4-1 in the ninth inning, Chris Johnson belted a two-run home run to center field to cut the lead to 4-3. Abraham Almonte then singled with two outs, bringing the winning run to the plate, which happened to be Jason Kipnis. He never got his shot, though, as Almonte was picked off first base to end the game.

Saturday’s One Last Thing: The Indians made a couple of mistakes Saturday night at a time when they can’t afford them.

The Indians’ defense let them down for the first time in quite a while, and it was specifically Francisco Lindor who struggled. First, a routine double-play ball to Lindor was thrown away in right field, which led to the White Sox’s first run. In the next inning, a potential inning-ending double play back to Carlos Carrasco let in a run, as Lindor lost the ball while trying to make the transfer. That play put the White Sox up 3-1.

“It’s a tough play,” Kipnis said of the error. “It’s one where he’s thinking he needs to make a better throw, I’m thinking I need to catch the ball. It’s just one of those where the ball was leading into the runner coming in hot. Again, he thinks he should make a better throw, I think I should catch the ball. He’s allowed to make a mistake here and there.”

The big one, of course, ended the game. After that kind of game, the Indians bringing the winning run to the plate—and having it be Kipnis—was a gift of sorts. Getting picked off is up there among the worst ways to lose a game.

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“Yeah, obviously that's tough to take,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Abe looked to me -- Millsy and I were talking -- it looked like he wanted to run and we really wanted to let Kip hit. My guess is, when Sarby was kind of relaying that, that he might have just looked a second, because he wasn't running. That's unfortunate. You'd love to let Kip hit there.”

Said Kipnis, “It’s the last thing he’s expecting, too. It’s just a rare play. It’s unfortunate. Abe’s not a guy I have to go talk to or say anything to. Nobody feels worse about it than he does probably. We had a good little fight there in the end and hopefully we can take that momentum into tomorrow.”

The real sting: the Houston Astros won, so the Indians dropped back to four games for the second AL wild card. It’s also a step closer to their season being realistically over, which is drawing near if a few losses are to follow.

“Of course, we’re in a playoff race. Obviously every loss hurts,” Kipnis said. “We want to win every game we can. But we gotta be realistic. You’re not going to win every single game. We’d like to. We would love a 10-game winning streak like we did to close out 2013. We’d love to go on one of those runs. We’ve been winning a lot of series. That’s what we need to keep doing. Maybe mix in a sweep here, too. We’re playing good baseball. We have to keep that going.”

More: Francisco Lindor can keep smiling as he plays as one of baseball's best

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Indians’ defense struggles in 4-3 loss to Chicago White Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 19, 2015

The Indians’ defense in the second part of this season is one of the main reasons that they’re still in the hunt for a wild card spot, but it failed them on Saturday night in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field.

The Indians gave away a few runs and struggled offensively all game, trailing 4-1 for much of the night. But, they made it a game in the bottom of the ninth.

Facing White Sox closer David Robertson, Yan Gomes doubled and Chris Johnson hit a mammoth two-run home run to center field—his first with the Indians—to cut the lead to 4-3. Abraham Almonte followed with a single, putting the go-ahead run at the plate. Jerry Sands then flew out to bring up Jason Kipnis, but he never got a chance as Robertson picked off Almonte to end the game.

It was a crushing way to end a frustrating game for the Indians.

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Indians 12, White Sox 1: Friday’s One Last Thing on taking advantage of a rare Chris Sale mistake

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 18, 2015

The Indians throttled the Chicago White Sox 12-1 Friday night at home.

Cody Anderson tossed 6 2/3 innings, allowing only one run, and the Indians’ offense got to Chris Sale, led by Carlos Santana’s grand slam that capped a six-run third inning.

Friday’s One Last Thing: The Indians have been taking advantage of mistakes from a pitcher that often doesn’t make them.

This is the second straight time the Indians have beaten Chris Sale, dating to a 3-2 win on September 7 that was highlighted by two home runs by Ryan Raburn and one by Mike Aviles.

On Friday night, a couple hits and an error put the Indians on top 2-0. But Santana came away with the loudest and most critical swing of the night, pummeling a changeup and belting it deep into the seats in left field.

Sale doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Taking advantage of them, and turning a modest 2-0 lead into a more comfortable 6-0, is the name of the game against an ace that the Indians lately have been able to beat.

More: Terry Francona acted in Corey Kluber's long-term interests Thursday

Aviles, after his Sept. 7 home run, blooped a single that put the Indians up 1-0 on Friday. He’s also well aware that opportunities like that don’t always come along, so striking at the right time is crucial.

“For one, it's always good when you can add a couple runs here and there, especially against a pitcher like Sale,” Aviles said. “Everybody knows once he settles in, it can be a really long day for the hitters. He still had good stuff. With the exception of one defensive play and one pitch to 'Los, he pitched a pretty good game if you really look at it. Frankie had the homer. If it wasn't for that one inning, who knows how the game would've been? Sale is a very good competitor and he obviously didn't back down when down 6-0.

In all honesty, usually against your aces, your ones and twos of the staff, any time they give you an extra out, you want to capitalize. There aren't many times they give you balls over the plate to hit anyway. Everybody knows Sale is always a Cy Young candidate every season, before it starts and during. Anytime he gives you an extra out, you want to take advantage. Luckily tonight, we were able to take advantage with some big hits. That slam by 'Los, it stung pretty good. We were able to settle in and add on here and there and the last inning, we got some runs to seal the deal.”

The Indians having to make up ground while facing Sale is not a great spot to be in—but they’ve now handled him twice. On Friday night, that was largely thanks to Santana jumping on the right pitch. And it's not a bad sign that the Indians have put up runs against arguably the division's best pitcher when they've needed to most.

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Carlos Santana grand slam lifts Indians to 12-1 win against Chicago White Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 18, 2015

A team needing to quickly make up ground in the standings and having Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale standing in its way normally isn’t a great proposition.

It didn’t seen to mind the Indians, though, as they knocked around Sale and later piled on in a 12-1 win Friday night at Progressive Field.

Much of the damage came with one swing in the third inning. With one out in a scoreless game, Roberto Perez singled to center field and Jose Ramirez reached on an error by Carlos Sanchez. After Francisco Lindor struck out, Mike Aviles blooped a single to center field that just dropped in-between two White Sox fielders to put the Indians on top 1-0. Michael Brantley followed on the next pitch with a single of his own, scoring Ramirez and making it 2-0.

Ryan Raburn then walked, setting up Carlos Santana against Sale with the bases loaded. Santana, who entered the game with a career .333 batting average (11-for-33) against Sale but with only one extra-base hit, got the best of him in a loud way, belting a grand slam deep into the bleachers in left field.

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Royals 8, Indians 4: Thursday’s One Last Thing on Terry Francona protecting Corey Kluber

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 17, 2015

The Indians fell to the Royals—mostly Omar Infante, really—8-4 Thursday night at Progressive Field.

Infante hit a career-high seven RBI while the Indians left 10 men on base in the first five innings.

Corey Kluber, making his first start since straining his right hamstring, was pulled after 61 pitches and four innings.

Thursday’s One Last Thing: Right or wrong, Indians manager Terry Francona acted in the long-term interest of Kluber and the team on Thursday night.

This is par for the course. Francona, especially with pitchers, often makes decisions with an eye on tomorrow as well as today. He’s done it with several members of the bullpen, dating back to his using Nick Hagadone early and often in the opening series against Houston to try and get his confidence to the right level. He did it with Carlos Carrasco, limiting him in his first start back from shoulder inflammation.

And he did it again Thursday, choosing to get Kluber out of the game instead of pushing him for another inning even though he was only at 61 pitches and in a 3-2 game. The Royals had the top of the lineup coming up with several hitters who would be hitting from the left side, and Francona didn’t want Kluber to push it just to run into trouble.

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Kluber is the Indians’ ace who’s under team control for the foreseeable future. They’re chasing down the wild card, but that wasn’t the only thing on Francona’s mind. He often talks about the balance between trying to win today but also keeping tomorrow in mind.

“I might have been overprotective. If that’s the case, you know, I don’t know, I don’t want to apologize for it,” Francona said. “I just think that after being down for 19 days, whatever it was, I just thought that he’ll be better and he’ll be better suited to start pitching probably like he can and not have to think about it. He wanted to go back out. I just thought it was in his best interest. I think I have an obligation to keep an eye on guys like that. … You kind of knew he was going to have to work going through them. It certainly didn’t work out the way we had envisioned. I wasn’t happy with the scoreboard, but it doesn’t change how I felt about trying to take care of him.”

Kluber did try to talk him out of going to the bullpen. But he also understood the reason behind it.

“I tried to talk him into letting me go back out, but I also understand his point of view of not wanting me to push it to where it's going to make things worse,” Kluber said. “So, I'm not going to question him. I tried to state my case and ultimately he makes the call, so it is what it is.”

Some fans will certainly be frustrated as the Indians struggle to make up ground. But Francona will continue to protect one of the instrumental members of the team’s long-term plans.

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Indians fall to Kansas City Royals 8-4 as Omar Infante has career night

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 17, 2015

Just before the All-Star break, much of the baseball world and especially fans in Cleveland were up in arms that Kansas City Royals second baseman Omar Infante was leading the voting for the All-Star Game despite clearly not being as productive as several other candidates, namely the Indians’ Jason Kipnis.

Perhaps that stuck with him, as Infante—who entered the game with 37 RBI all season—drove in a career high seven runs to lead the Royals over the Indians 8-4 Thursday night at Progressive Field.

Infante first blasted a three-run home run off Indians ace Corey Kluber to the Home Run Porch in left field in the second inning that initially put the Royals (86-60) up 3-0.
After Eric Hosmer hit an RBI-double in the fifth inning to put the Royals up 4-2, Infante quickly extended that lead with a two-run double to left field off of relief pitcher Jeff Manship.

In the seventh inning, now facing Gavin Floyd, Infante singled home two more runs, bringing hit total to seven and the Royals’ led to 8-3.

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Indians moving Trevor Bauer to the bullpen starting Thursday night

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 17, 2015

Trevor Bauer’s season has long been headed in the wrong direction, and he’s now headed for the bullpen.

Indians manager Terry Francona said prior to Thursday's game that Bauer will be moved to the bullpen and out of the starting rotation. Bauer has struggled recently and now owns an 11-12 record and 4.71 ERA. His season got off to a hot start but he's slowly declined, and things have reached a low point in September. He's also dealt with home run issues and has now fallen out of the locked-in top four that the Indians have had in their rotation all season.

“Trev, he's fine,” Francona said. “He goes, 'I hope this isn't for forever,' and I said, 'Neither do we.' It's just, we have 20 games or whatever, and we need to [win as many games as we can]. And he understood that.”

Bauer is a former No. 3 overall pick and is still only 24 years old, so he’s always offered a great deal of upside. It appeared as though that potential was turning into reality, but the second half of Bauer's season has seen him take several steps back.

Since the middle of June, Bauer has a 6.10 ERA. In September, that ERA has jumped to 10.32. 

Bauer’s ERA by month:
June: 6.26
July: 4.59
August: 5.01
September: 10.32

It’s still possible Bauer makes a start or two toward the end of the month if needed. But this move signals that the Indians need more from him, and he hasn’t been able to find it. Francona cited Bauer's fastball command as perhaps the biggest thread between his struggles.

“When you can [command your fastball,]  I think things kind of feed off of that or build off of that,” Francona said. “Even on those tougher nights, [instead of] going 1 2/3, maybe go 4 or 5 and that’s your tough night.”

The starting rotation going forward will be Corey Kluber, Cody Anderson, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar.

Bauer being sent to the bullpen is also a nod to Tomlin and Anderson, who have each pitched well while acting as the No. 5 starter at different points. Anderson in September has a 1.93 ERA in three starts and Tomlin is 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA since recovering from spring shoulder surgery and being promoted.

Word of Bauer being more difficult to handle has followed him his entire career. The Indians have welcomed that, at times acknowledging that he simply analyzes information differently. But as he’s struggled, the team has had a hard time finding the proper adjustments.

“That’s on-going,” Francona said of the relationship between he, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and Bauer. “The hope is that this can be a collaborative effort. We’ve kind of told him that. For that to be, you have to buy into it. I think that’s on-going. … Not everybody’s the same. We certainly respect that.”

Bauer will also now not be able to do his normal pre-start routine that’s garnered plenty of fanfare in Arizona in Cleveland when Bauer long-tosses. He’d have to throw it out of the stadium from the bullpen to do that now.

“Well he’s certainly not going to long-toss,” Francona said. “It might not be so bad for him, a time or two, if it happens just because it's a little different. Kind of like [Gavin] Floyd, we’re not going to bring him in and hustle him to get ready. [Bullpen coach] Jason Bere’s out there and has a pretty interesting way, or view of talking to guys. Maybe a little fresh for him. I think it can be good.”

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Indians 5, Royals 1: Wednesday’s One Last Thing on Francisco Lindor having a lot to smile about

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 16, 2015

The Indians beat the Kansas City Royals 5-1 Wednesday night.

In the win, Francisco Lindor owned the night, hitting a home run in the first inning, driving in four RBI and making another diving play at shortstop.

Wednesday’s One Last Thing: Francisco Lindor has a lot to smile about, and he’s going to keep doing it.

Francisco Lindor is having about as much fun as anybody playing the game of baseball right now. He’s hitting comfortably above .300, he’s showing more power than anyone thought he would and he’s already playing at a Gold Glove-level in the field.

There’s a pretty easy argument to be made that since they were called up almost at the same time, Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa are the two best all-around shortstops in baseball. And they’re 21 and 20 years old, respectively.

In the case of Lindor, he radiates positivity. He can’t stop smiling. After that diving stop and throw-from-his-knees play to get Alex Rios Wednesday night, Lindor could’t hide what’s becoming his trademark smile.

He says he doesn’t want to hide it and act like he’ been there before. And why should he? Nobody seems to be having more fun.

“I’ve just never been a fan of a guy that makes a great play and acts like he’s done it 10,000 times,” Lindor said. “Smile, man. That’s what we play for. We’ve got to enjoy the game. Smiling doesn’t mean you’re hot-dogging it or disrespecting the game. It’s a smile. I look at my teammates and they’re always making a comment, so I’ve got to smile at that, too.”

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Lindor belted a solo home run. Then he singled home two runs by slapping a ball the other way. Then he lined a ball back up the middle to score another run. Then he made a diving play.

Ho hum. That’s becoming the norm.

Lindor also noticed his 100th hit Wednesday night in only his 82nd game. That’s the sixth-fastest mark to reach 100 hits in Indians history to start a career and the fastest since 1947.

“Well I think we knew he could do those things physically,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “The level he’s played at and the consistency he’s shown is really exciting. I think now that he’s gotten a taste of it, you can see that it looks like he’s trying to understand more, the impact of each out. With the skills he has, it gets real exciting in a hurry.”

Lindor has been at least in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation with Correa for a while. Those two have separated themselves. Tonight, though, might have been his announcement of his legitimate candidacy to be more than simply the guy who’s in second place, only in view of the leader. Lindor is still likely chasing Correa, but there’s a foot race to the finish now.

Francona said recently that he liked how Lindor has shown bunt on his own, which in turn shows he hasn’t cared about his own numbers as much as moving runners over to help the team. When asked about his candidacy in the ROY race, Lindor echoed that sentiment.

“I don’t play for Rookie of the Year. I don’t play for MVP,” Lindor said. “I don’t play for winning the RBI or home runs or batting average – I don’t play for any of that stuff. I play for the love of the game, I play because I want to win, I play because of my family. I represent my family. I’ve got to make sure I represent my family the right way.”

It doesn’t look like that smile is going anywhere for quite some time.

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Francisco Lindor dazzles in 5-1 win against Kansas City Royals

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 16, 2015

Francisco Lindor brought it all on Wednesday night, and the 21-year-old phenom led the Indians to a 5-1 win against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field.

Lindor has represented one of the best reasons to go to the ballpark the last couple months. He’s shown his Gold-Glove level fielding, which has always been his best attribute. He’s shown his speed and a flair for the excitement. He’s been better-than-advertised at the plate and has shown some power to go with it.

On Wednesday night, he did it all, putting on full display why he’s been thought of as one of the top-10 prospects in baseball for several years in a neat little three-hour package.

He started it with a bang. In the bottom of the first inning, facing Royals (85-60) starter Danny Duffy (7-8), Lindor launched a no-doubt solo home run to the bleacher seats in left field, putting the Indians up 1-0. An inning later with runners on second and third and a 2-0 lead after Jason Kipnis singled home a run, Lindor slapped a ball the other way that ricocheted off Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist’s glove and into right field, scoring two more runs and putting the Indians (72-72) on top 4-0.

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Royals 2, Indians 0: Tuesday night’s One Last Thing on Josh Tomlin’s resurgence

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 16, 2015

The Indians lost to the Kansas City Royals 2-0 Tuesday night, effectively wasting a complete game by Josh Tomlin.

Tomlin allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out six, but still took the loss.

Tuesday’s One Last Thing: Josh Tomlin is pitching not just like his old self, but a better version of it.

Josh Tomlin has had Tommy John Surgery and shoulder surgery in the last couple years. For a pitcher, that might normally spell doom, that his old self is lost forever.

That doesn’t appear to be the case this time. Since being promoted, Tomlin is 5-2 with a 2.70 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 50 innings pitched. Considering he’s never finished a major-league season with an ERA under 4.25, Tomlin isn’t just back to his healthy self.

He’s better. Tomlin has been inducing weak contact, which has always been his style. But now, he’s mixing in a higher number of strikeouts. The result has been a very strong option for the No. 5 spot in the rotation and a candidate to remain there for the time being.

Perhaps it’s as easy as being pain free, something Tomlin hasn’t been for quite some time.

“It seems like he’s kind of back to where he was a few years ago, with obviously supreme command and getting the ball where he wants to and not making as many mistakes,” said pitching coach Mickey Callaway. “Anytime you’re battling through soreness and things like that you’re going to leave the ball in bad spots at times. I think that’s what’s been happening to him the last couple years. He feels pain free now. He’s driving the ball exactly where he wants it to go.”

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Callaway and Indians manager Terry Francona have praised Tomlin’s breaking ball, which appears to be as strong as it’s ever been. That’s part of Tomlin’s renaissance. Tomlin’s also pitched to contact but he’s now taking advantage of throwing away pitches to set up others, something he hadn’t been doing.

“The one thing I would say is his breaking ball is probably better than I’ve seen it,” Callaway said. “He’s got a lot of really good spin on it. He’s able to bury it and he’s been able to throw it for lead strikes like we saw later in the game tonight. He’s just got a good mix of pitches. Other than the breaking ball I think he’s using more effective balls now than he did in the past, where he’s driving the ball in off the plate when he needs to, going cutter down off the plate when he wants to for a swing-and-miss. In the past, he’s always been, ‘I’m just going to throw the ball over the plate and let them hit it.’ I think he’s really learned the value of using a ball to his advantage, especially with the command he’s got.”

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Corey Kluber is set to return on Thursday, as he’ll lead the staff ahead of Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer. Tomlin and then Cody Anderson represent the options for the No. 5 spot.

Tomlin, now past his multiple surgeries and pitching pain-free, appears to be taking the lead.

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Indians’ bats fall silent, waste Josh Tomlin complete game in 2-0 loss to Kansas City Royals

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 15, 2015

The Indians struggled to put anything together offensively and both came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Kansas City Royals Tuesday night at Progressive Field.

The Indians (71-72) were kept off-balance all night by Royals (85-59) starting pitcher Kris Medlen (4-1), who didn’t record a single strikeout in his 6 1/3 innings but did induce weak contact on a consistent basis.

Still, the Indians made it interesting in the ninth inning. Lonnie Chisenhall walked against Royals closer Greg Holland (31 saves) and Yan Gomes followed with a single. Then the inning went downhill.

Mike Aviles, pinch-hitting, squared around to bunt but popped it up. Holland dropped it but still threw out the lead runner for the first out. Abraham Almonte then popped out to third base. After a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring position, Giovanny Urshela struck out to end the game.

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Carlos Carrasco, Lonnie Chisenhall lead Indians past Kansas City Royals 8-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 14, 2015

Carlos Carrasco put forth a strong effort in his second start back from the disabled list and Lonnie Chisenhall struck three times at the plate, and the Indians took care of the Kansas City Royals 8-3 Monday night at Progressive Field.

Carrasco, who recently came off the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, allowed a home run to Alex Gordon on the first pitch of the game and then settled down, not allowing another run over the next six innings. He allowed five hits in that time and struck out nine, as his pitch count was able to be increased to 82 following his first start, in which he was limited to under 60 pitches.

In that time, the Indians’ offense knocked around Royals starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. Jason Kipnis, who’s been slumping all September, responded to Gordon’s lead-off home run with a lead-off home run in the first inning of his own, golfing a solo home run (eighth of the season) to right-center field to tie it 1-1.

In the third inning, Francisco Lindor walked, stole second base and later scored on Chisenhall’s double to right field, giving the Indians a 2-1 lead. An inning later, Giovanny Urshela added a solo home run to left field, his sixth home run of the season. In the fifth, Chisenhall got another run home, as he made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly to center field after the Indians loaded the bases.

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Tigers 9, Indians 2: Sunday’s One last thing on Lonnie Chisenhall, a heckler and a great catch

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 13, 2015

The Indians split their doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers Sunday, winning the first game 7-2 and losing the second game 9-2.

In the middle, the Indians momentarily got back to .500 this season (70-70 record) for the first time since the first week of the season, though they only remained their for a few hours.

Sunday’s One Last Thing: Sometimes when you heckle a player for no reason, he’s going to make you look bad a few seconds later.

The second game of the Indians’ doubleheader was the type of game in which a fan can yell something and have it be heard by the entire stadium. The total attendance for the doubleheader was under 15,000, and maybe 150 people were left in the stands by the days’ end.

In the top of the sixth inning of that second game, a fan yelled rather loudly to Lonnie Chisenhall that he sucks and needed to go back to the minor leagues.

Only seconds later, Rajai Davis lined a ball to deep right field. Chisenhall turned, raced back and dove toward the wall, making the catch and sliding to the warning track.

It was the type of highlight reel catch that has quickly garnered quite a bit of praise for Chisenhall as one of the best-fielding right fielders in the game right now.

And it certainly didn't make the heckler’s argument any better.

“It was pretty good timing,” Chisenhall, smiling. “I don't know if he laughed or the people laughed around him, but it was perfect timing.”

Statcast tracked Chisenhall’s route efficiency at 97 percent, a solid mark. Apparently, bench coach Brad Mills told Chisenhall he didn’t have the best route to the ball.

“Did it? I need to tell Millsy,” Chisenhall said. “He said I took a banana route.”

It was one of the few highlights in a four-hour blowout as the second game of a doubleheader.

“That was one of the nicer plays you’re going to see all year,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s a double. He left his feet going away from the play, which is not easy. That was a heck of a play.”

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Indians, Trevor Bauer knocked around in 9-2 loss to Detroit Tigers

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 13, 2015

The Indians got back to .500 for the first time since the opening week of the 2015 season midway through Sunday’s doubleheader against the Detroit TIgers, but they’d only spend a few hours there.

After winning the first game 7-2 and bringing their record to 70-70, the Indians couldn’t maintain that momentum and were knocked around in a 9-2 loss.

Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer (11-12) again struggled, allowing six runs on seven hits in three innings pitched to go with five strikeouts and three walks. Bauer worked himself into trouble in the third inning, walking Tyler Collins to load the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera. Bauer struck out Cabrera but couldn’t get past J.D. Martinez, who singled home two runs to tie it 2-2 after the Indians scored twice in the first inning against Tigers starter Randy Wolf.

In the fourth inning, Dixon Machado doubled home a run before Bauer again walked a hitter to load the bases. Rajai Davis made him pay with a two-RBI single up the middle to make it 5-2. Later, Cabrera grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that brought in a sixth run home.

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Indians get back to .500 with 7-2 win against Detroit Tigers

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 13, 2015

The Indians started off their double header with the Detroit Tigers on Sunday with a positive note, coming away with a 7-2 win to get back to .500 for the season.

Facing Tigers (64-77) starting pitcher Justin Verlander, the Indians loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth inning while trailing 1-0. Chris Johnson tied the game with an RBI single to right field, allowing every runner to move up a base.

Verlander then got Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis to harmlessly pop out, putting him one out away from escaping the inning with only one run allowed and the score still tied. Francisco Lindor, though, rifled a single back up the middle to score two and extend the Indians’ lead to 3-1.

In the sixth, a J.D. Martinez double and Nick Castellanos sacrifice fly to left field made it 3-2 and ended Cody Anderson’s day. The Indians (70-70) then worked themselves into a tough situation.

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Saturday’s game postponed due to rain; no makeup date announced

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 12, 2015

The Indians had Saturday night’s game against Detroit postponed due to rain, the second straight night the weather disallowed any baseball to be played.

Friday night’s game was postponed as well, creating a traditional double header on Sunday. Saturday’s makeup date has yet to be determined, as it’s so late in the season and the Indians Tigers don’t have an off-day on the same day the rest of the way.

Cody Anderson will face Justin Verlander in the first game Sunday and Trevor Bauer will take the mound against Matt Boyd in the second game.

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Indians 7, Tigers 5: Thursday’s One Last Thing on Lonnie Chisenhall’s terrific game in right field

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 11, 2015

The Indians, led by Michael Brantley’s two home runs, won a back-and-forth game against the Detroit Tigers 7-5 Thursday night.

Thursday’s One Last Thing: Lonnie Chisenhall is playing like one of the best defensive outfielders in the game right now.

Prior to Thursday’s game against the Tigers, Indians manager Terry Francona called Chisenhall one of the better defensive right fielders in baseball. And then he went right out a few hours later and proved Francona right.

Chisenhall had, in a way, the best game by an Indians outfielder since 1981. He had three outfield assists, becoming the first Indians OF to have three in one game since Rick Manning did it in the early 80s. He's also the first outfielder to do it baseball-wide since Mark Teahen in 2007.

He made two running catches, one that robbed Victor Martinez of a double and another that ended a scoring threat, had his own double play in a run-down and threw out two runners at the plate. That included his gunning of Anthony Gose at home in the seventh inning that kept the score tied 3-3 and gave way for Brantley’s first of two go-ahead home runs.

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Chisenhall a week ago was named ESPN’s Defensive Player of the Month in August. Tonight, he was all over the place and took two runs off the board with his arm and had the instincts to run to the infield to get involved in a run-down.

Few outfielders have been better defensively than Chisenhall since his promotion back up to the big leagues as a right fielder.

"A good time so far. So far, so good,” Chisenhall said. “Fortunately, I've been able to help the pitchers out a little bit and I like throwing the ball too. I always have a smile when I get to let one go. It's been great out there, a good experience so far, and I look forward to going out there more.”

Brantley, when talking about Chisenhall, used the word “phenomenal” when talking about how he’s taken to the position.

“I knew he had it in him,” Brantley said. “Every spring we’d go out to right field and we’d shag fly balls in right field and kind of play around and throw guys out at third, just playing around. The effort and the work that he’s put in each and every day to get better out there and the questions that he’s asking, he’s learning on the fly in the major leagues, which isn’t easy, and he’s doing a phenomenal job. … He’s an athlete. Phenomenal athlete. He’s faster than what you’d think, has a great arm. He’s getting great reads and jumps on the ball right now. He’s getting in great position. It’s fun to watch and he played great defense tonight, phenomenal defense tonight.”

Chisenhall had eight defensive runs saved in August. Thursday night, in a literal sense, he had two in that game alone. And as far as the Indians’ long-term plans are concerned, he’s making it harder and harder for them to not put down his name in ink in right field.

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Michael Brantley’s two home runs lift Indians over Detroit Tigers 7-5

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 10, 2015

Michael Brantley hit two late home runs in a back-and-forth game to twice break up a tied score and lead the Indians to a 7-5 win against the Detroit Tigers Thursday night at Progressive Field.

After the Indians (69-70) and Tigers (64-76) traded the lead all night, Brantley came up to the plate in the bottom  of the eighth of a 5-5 game against Tigers reliever Blaine Hardy (4-3) and took him deep to right field to put the Indians on top 7-5 and secure his fourth career multi-home run game. In the seventh, Brantley gave the Indians a 4-3 lead with a solo home run.

Cody Allen (2-4), who blew a five-out save, ended up securing the win in the ninth.
The Indians had struggled all season against Tigers starting pitcher Alfedo Simon but found an answer Thursday night.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Abraham Almonte got ahold of a Simon offering and drilled it for a solo home run to right field, tying it. In the sixth, after Almonte singled and Ramirez walked, Urshela came through by ripping a double into the gap in left-center field, scoring both runners and giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Danny Salazar, making his first start since losing to Simon and throwing his shortest outing of the season in a 6-0 loss last Saturday, allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings to go with three strikeouts.

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Francisco Lindor nearly completes cycle in Indians’ 6-4 win against Chicago White Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 9, 2015

Josh Tomlin picked up his fifth win of the season and Cody Allen notched his 30th save in the Indians’ 6-4 win against the Chicago White Sox Wednesday night.

Francisco Lindor also came a double away from the cycle, as he hit his eighth home run of the season to go along with a triple and a single in the win.

Tomlin (5-1) allowed three runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Jeff Manship and Bryan Shaw held the Indians’ lead into the ninth, where Allen closed out the game.
 

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Indians fall to Chicago White Sox 7-4

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 9, 2015

Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was knocked around and the Indians fell to the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on the road Wednesday night.

Carrasco (12-10) allowed four runs on four hits and lasted only 2 2/3 innings. White Sox starter Carlos Rodon (7-6), on the other hand, was strong in his seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and striking out eight.

The Indians, trailing 7-1 entering the eighth inning, made it respectful with three runs off the White Sox bullpen but never seriously challenged. Michael Brantley (13th of the season) and Jose Ramirez (third) each hit home runs.

To make matters worse for the Indians, the Texas Rangers are currently leading Seattle 7-1 in the seventh inning. Should the Rangers hold on, the Indians will drop to six games back of the second Wild Card spot.

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Indians announce 2016 schedule, includes season opener at home against Boston

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 8, 2015

As the Indians fight to extend their 2015 season deeper into October, on Tuesday they announced their complete 2016 schedule.

The Indians will open the 2016 season at home against manager Terry Francona’s former team, the Boston Red Sox, on April 4.

The National League teams coming to Progressive Field next season include the New York Mets (April 15-17, Cincinnati Reds (May 16-17), Washington Nationals (July 26-27) and Miami Marlins (Sept. 2-4). For Indians fans hoping to watch players that don’t normally come through Cleveland, those series will be highlighted by the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, two of the game’s most dangerous hitters.

The Indians will go on the road in interleague play to face the Philadelphia Phillies (April 30-May1), Reds (May 18-19), Atlanta Braves (June 27-29) and Nationals (Aug. 9-10).
And, of course, the Indians will finish the season with a flurry of in-division games in September. From Sept. 9 to the end of the regular season on Oct. 2, the Indians will cycle through each division opponent. From Sept. 16 on, the schedule includes seven games against Detroit and six games against Kansas City, including the final series Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Kansas City.

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Ryan Raburn’s two home runs lead Indians over Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox 3-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 7, 2015

Ryan Raburn clubbed two home runs against one of the game’s best starting pitchers, and the Indians topped the Chicago White Sox 3-2 Monday.

Trailing White Sox (65-71) ace Chris Sale (12-8) 2-0, Mike Aviles and Raburn each hit solo home runs in the fourth inning to tie it. In the top of the sixth inning, Raburn went deep again, this time giving the Indians (67-69) a 3-2 lead.

That was enough for Trevor Bauer (11-11), who allowed two runs on two hits and struck out six in seven innings. Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen (29 saves) for the second straight day worked scoreless innings to close out the game.

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Indians break through to beat Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers 4-0

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 6, 2015

For most of the day Sunday, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander looked like his old self again against the Indians. Verlander took a no-hitter into fifth inning and looked to be barely breaking a sweat even as the temperature neared 90 degrees.

Eventually the Indians’ offense—unlike so many times in the past—finally got to him and did enough to support Cody Anderson, who turned in a strong performance of his own, to beat the Detroit Tigers 4-0 Sunday at Comerica Park.

Abraham Almonte broke up Verlander’s no-hit bid in the fifth with a triple to dead center field that was almost reeled in by Tigers center fielder Anthony Gose. An inning later, the Indians did some damage.

Michael Martinez, getting the start in left field while Michael Brantley acted as the designated hitter, singled to left and Jason Kipnis followed with a single on a play that was nearly a double play. Kipnis hit a hard ground ball to Tigers (62-74) second baseman Andrew Romine, who flipped it to shortstop Dixon Machado. Martinez had taken off on the pitch and slid into second just before the ball got to Machado. On his throw to first, then, Kipnis was originally called out in a bang-bang play but had the call overturned after the Indians (66-69) challenged the play.

Instead of two outs, the Indians had none and two runners on. Francisco Lindor squared around to bunt in an effort to put two runners in scoring position on a day in which runners were hard to come by. He fouled off one pitch, failing to get it down. Then he swung freely and made it count, ripping a triple to right-center field and giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Carlos Santana made it 3-0 with a single to center field.

Martinez added an insurance run in the top of the ninth with an RBI single up the middle off of Tigers relief pitcher Neftali Feliz, making it 4-0.

Anderson (3-3) had his best outing since his first four after being called up, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing two hits while striking out three.

Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen worked scoreless innings to close out the game and the series.

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Tigers 6, Indians 0: Saturday’s One Last Thing on Alfredo Simon’s dominance against the Indians

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 5, 2015

The Indians were shut out by the Detroit Tigers in a 6-0 loss Saturday night at Comerica Park.

Danny Salazar was knocked around to the tune of six earned runs on eight hits and lasted only 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. Alfredo Simon, on the other hand, was brilliant and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.

Saturday’s One Last Thing: The Indians seem to be the only team that can’t hit Alfredo Simon.

Simon, at least recently, has not been very good. He’s given up at least four runs in 11 of his last 14 starts, many of them only going 3-4 innings into the game. In his previous two starts before Saturday night, he had given up a total of 14 earned runs.

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Simon got off to a terrific start to this season and recently had simply lost it. Except against the Indians. He ended up allowing two hits in seven innings in Saturday’s win. His ERA on June 14, after a start against the Indians, fittingly, was 2.58. Coming into Saturday it had nearly doubled, ballooning to 5.09.

“He’s done very well against us. And I’m sure confidence plays a part in it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “While we certainly follow how guys are doing, but guys with that kind of stuff, if they’re commanding on that night, it doesn't matter what he did last week.”

More: Transformation of Lonnie Chisenhall into a right fielder off to a nearly perfect start

The Indians can’t seem to figure him out. Courtesy of MLB.com, only three pitchers in the last 30 years have at least four wins, a 1.50 ERA or better and 20-plus innings pitched in one season against the Indians.

That would be Roger Clemens in 1987, Justin Verlander in 2009 and, yes, Simon in 2015.

“I'm not really sure,” Kipnis said. “He's got that good split-change that he's had success with on us. He gets you to chase his pitch. Other than that, I don't know. I don't have an answer. It seems like a guy we should hit. But, you tip your cap to him in that respect and you move on.”

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Indians shut down by Alfredo Simon, Detroit Tigers in 6-0 loss

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 5, 2015

The Detroit Tigers as a staff and particularly starting pitcher Alfredo Simon had nearly been hit at will as of late. That certainly wasn’t the case Saturday night, as the Indians’ lineup was stifled from top to bottom in a 6-0 loss at Comerica Park.

Simon (12-9) seemingly flipped a switch. He had allowed 14 runs in his previous two starts but found another gear against the Indians, throwing a no-hitter into the sixth inning. With two outs, Michael Brantley roped a double to right field to end the no-hit bid 17 outs into the game. It was Brantley’s 42nd double this season, which leads all of baseball. Prior to that, the Indians had just three base runners, with only Francisco Lindor reaching scoring position after a walk and a steal in the first inning.

It was the kind of offensive performance the Indians can ill afford as they try to get back into the American League Wild Card race. The Tigers have been flailing lately, but it was back to the good old days for Detroit (62-73) when facing Cleveland (65-69).

Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar (12-8) went the other way. He had been consistently strong in his last several outings but was knocked around by the Tigers, allowing six runs on eight hits in only 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.

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Indians 8, Tigers 1: Friday’s One Last Thing on Josh Tomlin being smart with what he has

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 4, 2015

The Indians cruised past the Detroit Tigers 8-1 Friday night.

Jerry Sands hit a two-run home run in the third inning that ended up being all the run support Josh Tomlin would need, as he allowed only one run on four hits and threw a complete game.

Friday’s One Last Thing: Josh Tomlin doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he’s been smart with the tools that he has, and it’s been working.

Tomlin threw one of the better games of his career, only allowing a Miguel Cabrera RBI single in an otherwise stellar outing. It also came with him starting on somewhat short notice, as he didn’t know he’d be taking the mound until yesterday after Corey Kluber went down with a strained hamstring.

Tomlin is now 4-1 since coming back from shoulder surgery (which followed Tommy John Surgery a few years ago) with an ERA of 2.55, and he’s looked like a better version of the finesse pitcher that was battling for the No. 5 spot in the rotation this past spring.

It’s come at an especially important time for the Indians, who have seen Kluber go down, Carlos Carrasco head to the disabled list and Danny Salazar come down with an illness. Being six games back of the second Wild Card spot with a month to play, any let-down in the rotation would spell the Indians’ doom.

“That's kind of what we were hoping,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “I think we wanted to try to give him enough time—because knowing J.T., he was going to try to come back as quick as he can—to come back so he could help us. Mickey and I were talking about it the whole year, because you know you're going to need pitching. We kept saying, 'If we can just let Josh get ready, he can really give us a boost, because we think he can pitch.”

Tomlin has stepped up. And he’s done it void of “stuff” to match Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar or Trevor Bauer. He’s had to pitch smarter.

“My expectation as a starting pitcher is to do whatever I can do to keep this team in the game for as long as I can,” Tomlin said.”That’s been my expectation since the day I was called up to the big leagues and that’s never going to change for me. I know I’m not a high stuff guy, a high strikeout guy. So my job is to try to keep guys off balance as much as I can. I’ve had success doing that before in the past, so I’m expecting anything more than that right there, just trying to go out there and compete as much as I can and try to give us a chance to win every single game.”

When Tomlin was on the shelf, he took to watching film whenever he could, trying to pick up things in opposing hitter’s swings. Tomlin thinks he’s pitching smarter than he has in the past.

“As a whole, yes,” Tomlin said. “Being able to read swings a little bit better. I was able to do that the first couple years. I wouldn’t say I lost that, that feel for it, but not being able to pitch for 2-3 years, you watch a lot of baseball games and try to figure out what you could do to make yourself better. I think in that aspect I’ve tried to work on that as much as I can. … You kind of see what those guys are trying to do against certain guys and you kinda take it from there and see like, ‘OK, that heater worked in there. I wondered what I would do if I could sneak it in there or if I elevate it just a tad bit if they’d get to it. Seeing if they start cheating to that pitch then I can go back away. It’s knowing guys’ strengths and teasing them a little bit and then trying to go back to your strength and get outs as quick as you can.”

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Josh Tomlin throws complete game, Indians bring plenty of offense in 8-1 win against Detroit Tigers

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 4, 2015

The Indians received some good news and some bad news Friday.

The bad news was that ace Corey Kluber was being scratched from his start and will miss at least 10 days with a strained hamstring.

The good news is that Josh Tomlin, taking the mound in Kluber’s place, threw a complete game and the Indians’ offense gave him plenty of support to pick up a needed 8-1 win against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park Friday night.

With officially a month left in the regular season, the Indians (65-68) opened Friday six games back of the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card spot in the American League.

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Indians call up INF Michael Martinez, LHP Giovanni Soto; TJ House to 60-day DL, Carlos Moncrief DFA

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 4, 2015

The Indians on Friday made a couple of roster moves, as they purchased the contracts of utility man Michael Martinez and left-handed relief pitcher Giovanni Soto, bringing the active roster to 30 players.

To make room on the 40-man roster, starting pitcher TJ House was transferred to the 60-day disabled list and outfielder Carlos Moncrief was designated for assignment.

House has been on the disabled list since May 1 with shoulder inflammation. He was on the 15-day disabled list, and moving him to the 60-day opens up a spot on the 40-man roster. Moncrief had struggled mightily this season, hitting just .187 with seven home runs in 57 games at Triple-A Columbus. Last year, he hit .271 with 12 home runs and 33 doubles.

Soto, who was acquired from Detroit for Jhonny Peralta, has been working out of the bullpen at Triple-A Columbus. This season he owns a 2-1 record with two saves, a 2.68 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings pitched. Right-handed hitters are batting only .162 against him. Soto hasn’t a run in his last nine appearances.

Martinez, who started the season as a non-roster invitee, is hitting .289 with five home runs, five triples, 24 doubles, 42 RBI and 11 steals  in 102 games at Triple-A. Since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .328. Martinez this year has seen time at second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield.

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Indians likely to to purchase the contracts of LHP Giovanni Soto, INF Michael Martinez Friday

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 3, 2015

The Indians are likely to add two more players to the active roster on Friday, left-handed relief pitcher Giovanni Soto and utility man Michael martinez.

Following the activation of pitcher Gavin Floyd and infielder Chris Johnson from the disabled list and the promotion of relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong on Tuesday, the active roster will stand at 30 players. There will be corresponding moves on the 40-man roster on Friday.

Soto, who was acquired from Detroit for Jhonny Peralta, has been working out of the bullpen at Triple-A Columbus. This season he owns a 2-1 record with two saves, a 2.68 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings pitched. Right-handed hitters are batting only .162 against him. Soto hasn’t a run in his last nine appearances.

Martinez, who started the season as a non-roster invitee, is hitting .289 with five home runs, five triples, 24 doubles, 42 RBI and 11 steals  in 102 games at Triple-A. Since the All-Star break, he’s hitting .328. Martinez this year has seen time at second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield.

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Indians’ Trevor Bauer hit hard in 5-1 loss to Toronto Blue Jays

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 2, 2015

Trevor Bauer couldn’t get out of the second inning and the Indians fell to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 Wednesday night.

Bauer (10-11) allowed five runs on six hits in only 1 1/3 innings pitched, putting the Indians (64-68) in an early 5-1 hole.

From there, Blue Jays (76-57) starter R.A. Rickey (10-10) cruised, throwing a complete game and allowing one run on four hits and striking out six.

The loss drops the Indians back to 5.5 games behind Texas.

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

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

By Ryan Lewis Published: September 1, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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