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Indians 13, Tigers 1: Tonight's One Last Thing on Brandon Moss and the offense coming around

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2015

The Indians pounded the Detroit Tigers Friday night 13-1. It was a needed win over the Tigers and it was a needed night from the offense.

Danny Salazar was also terrific, allowing one run over seven innings and striking out a career-high 11 batters.

The defense was much improved, as well, with four nice plays, including one by Michael Bourn in the first inning that probably saved three runs. Indians manager Terry Francona said it was probably the play of the game. On Friday night, the Indians had plenty of positive plays and plenty of hits.

Tonight's One Last Thing: A look at the Indians' offensive night and the breaking out of Brandon Moss

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Cleveland Indians pound Detroit Tigers 13-1; Moss hits two HR, Salazar strikes out career-high 11

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2015

The Indians looked a lot like the Detroit Tigers did two weeks ago in Cleveland. There, the Tigers’ offense steamrolled Indians’ pitching in a three-game sweep.

On Friday night in Detroit, the Indians had their best offensive night of the season and returned the favor in an 13-1 thrashing.

The Indians (6-9) jumped on Tigers (11-6) starting pitcher Shane Greene—who entered the game with the American League’s lowest ERA at 0.39—early. After consecutive light ground-outs back to the pitcher from Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis that didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, Michael Brantley singled, Carlos Santana walked and Brandon Moss drove both in with a two-out, two-RBI double to left-center field.

That lead was extended to 3-0 in the top of the second inning when Lonnie Chisenhall doubled to left field, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and then home on a sacrifice fly from Jose Ramirez.

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Indians OF Nick Swisher to begin rehab at Triple-A; Zach Walters off DL, optioned to Triple-A

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2015

Cleveland Indians outfielder Nick Swisher will begin his rehab assignment tonight at Triple-A Columbus.

Swisher had surgeries on both knees last season. The Indians said during spring training that once Swisher can play back-to-back nine-inning games in the outfield, that would be a good sign that he's ready or close to being ready to return from the disabled list.

Swisher traveled with the team to Houston for Opening Day and then returned to Arizona to continue his rehab in the warmer weather.

When he returns from the disabled list, it's likely that he'll see more time in the outfield than at first base, where Carlos Santana is entrenched. Swisher, Brandon Moss, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn, depending on the day, will be at either right field or in the designated hitter spot.

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Cleveland Indians can’t get offense going, lose to Chicago White Sox 6-0

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2015

The Cleveland Indians were stifled by Chicago White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija and lost 6-0 on Wednesday.

Samardzija threw six scoreless innings, allowed six hits and struck out three.

Indians starter Corey Kluber (0-2) was on his way to another solid outing until the bottom of the seventh inning. Already leading 3-0, Melky Cabrera singled home a run and Jose Abreu—who hit a home run earlier in the game—doubled home two more to make it 6-0.

The Indians (5-9) are off Thursday and will then travel to Detroit for a three-game series with the Tigers.

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Indians 6, White Sox 2: Tonight's One Last Thing on Terry Francona, Cody Allen and the bullpen

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2015

The Indians topped the White Sox 6-2 Tuesday night. Carlos Carrasco threw five innings and the bullpen closed out the final four innings. The ninth inning went to Cody Allen, who last night blew a three-run lead.

Tonight’s One Last Thing: Indians manager Terry Francona again wanted to make sure a relief pitcher the Indians need to rely on this season didn't stay in a rut too long.

Allen had a pretty brutal ninth inning Monday night. After a strikeout, he allowed seven consecutive base runners in a 4-3 loss to the White Sox. But Francona made sure to trot him right back out and get him into the action again tonight. He pitched a perfect 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts.

Francona did something similar earlier this season with left-handed relief pitcher Nick Hagadone. After Hagadone gave up a walk and a hit without recording an out in Houston, Francona went back to him the next day, which happened to be the combined no-hitter bid started by Trevor Bauer. He gave up a solo home run to Jed Lowrie and was frustrated with himself that he didn't convert the no-hitter. So Francona went back to him again the next day against Detroit.

Francona said then that Hagadone is a guy the Indians are going to rely on. During Bauer’s no-hit bid, Francona had the Indians’ long-term goals in view and wanted to make sure Hagadone had his head right before worrying about the no-no. Either Hagadone was going to turn it around and get the bad taste out of his mouth or Francona was going to show him that the team was invested in him.

Allen has had two poor outings so far but they are following two great seasons. It’s a pretty safe bet Francona wasn’t as worried about Allen in the long term as those on Twitter calling for his head Monday night. But just like Hagadone, Francona went right back to Allen the next game.

No time to lick your wounds here.

“We wanted to get Cody right back in,” Francona said.

This is one of the ways Francona manages his bullpen over the course of an entire season. And nobody uses their bullpen more than him.

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Cleveland Indians, Carlos Carrasco beat Chicago White Sox 6-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 21, 2015

The Indians and Carlos Carrasco responded from last night’s ninth-inning let-down with a 6-2 win against the Chicago White Sox Tuesday night.

Carrasco (2-1), who took the mound for the first time since getting hit in the face by a line drive last week, threw five innings, allowed one earned run on four hits and struck out eight.

Scott Atchison, Marc Rzepczynski, Zach McAllister, Nick Hagadone, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen all appeared in the game to close out the final four innings.

Jason Kipnis (1-for-4), Michael Brantley (2-for-4), Carlos Santana (1-for-3, home run) and David Murphy (1-for-2, home run) all drove in one run. Ryan Raburn came away with the biggest hit of the night as a pinch hitter with a two-out, two-RBI single to left field that extended the Indians' lead to 4-1 in the top of the sixth inning.

The Indians beat up White Sox starter Hector Noesi (5 2/3 innings pitched, four earned runs) and then roughed up top prospect Carlos Rodon (2 1/3 innings pitched, two earned runs) in his MLB debut.

The Indians and White Sox are now each 5-8 this season.

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White Sox 4, Indians 3: Tonight's One Last Thing on Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and wasted efforts

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 21, 2015

The Indians failed to take advantage of another great outing from a starting pitcher and fell to the Chicago White Sox 4-3 Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Indians closer Cody Allen blew a three-run lead in the ninth.

Tonight’s One Last Thing: The Indians won’t be able to catch Detroit and Kansas City if they keep wasting strong performances from their starters.

And early on, that’s meant Corey Kluber, and now Trevor Bauer.

Kluber has thrown 6 1/3 innings, 7 1/3 innings and 8 innings in his three starts, allowing two runs in all three. Those are all quality starts. In two, he had no-hit bids into at least the fifth inning.

In two of those starts, the Indians scored two and zero runs. In the third, they scored six but the bullpen allowed seven (a 9-6 loss to the Tigers).

Bauer’s run support has been adequate. But like one of Kluber’s starts, the bullpen couldn’t convert tonight. Bauer allowed six base runners in seven innings. Allen allowed seven base runners in a row.

Just between Kluber and Bauer, the Indians have lost four games in the first 12 after strong outings. Considering TJ House has struggled and Zach McAllister seems better suited in the bullpen, the Indians will need to capitalize on the front end of their rotation. Danny Salazar could turn out to be a strong option as well.

There are plenty of things you can say about a baseball team and go, “Well they need this to happen” or “They can’t continue to do this.” Getting these outings from Kluber and Bauer and not being able to turn them into wins might be at the front of that list right now.

Also, some more on Bauer, courtesy of Fox Sports — Bauer’s 26 strikeouts are the most by an Indians pitcher in his first three starts of the season since Sam McDowell had 31 in 1970. Bauer is also the first Indians pitcher since at least 1914 with 26-plus strikeouts and eight or fewer hits allowed in his first three starts, and he’s only the seventh pitcher across baseball to do so.

Bauer has been nothing short of terrific in all three of his starts. In two, he’s been almost unhittable. The drawback is that he’s not afraid to go deep into counts with hitters or racking up a high pitch count. But as long as he’s accurate enough to not walk batters, he’s proving to be awfully hard to hit. Assuming Carlos Carrasco is OK, the Indians have quite the 1-2-3 in their rotation.

If they can take advantage of it.

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Cleveland Indians, Cody Allen blow three-run lead in ninth, lose to Chicago White Sox 4-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 20, 2015

The Indians again wasted a strong effort from a starting pitcher, as Cody Allen blew a three-run lead in the ninth in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

After recording the first out of the ninth inning, Allen allowed seven consecutive batters to reach base. The first major blow was Alexei Ramirez's two-RBI double on a ball that looked catchable, but Mike Aviles—filling in for Michael Bourn—couldn't come up with it. The White Sox singled twice to load the bases and Melky Cabrera singled to deep left field to win the game.

Trevor Bauer struck out seven and allowed only four hits in seven scoreless innings. He now has a 0.95 ERA this season.

Offensively, the Indians continued their trend of solo home runs—Ryan Raburn and Brett Hayes each hit one off of White Sox starter John Danks. Michael Brantley also doubled home a run.

The Indians fall to 4-8 this season and are in last place in the American League Central.

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Cleveland Indians fall to Minnesota Twins 7-2, lose series

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 19, 2015

Indians starting pitcher TJ House was hit hard again, this time in a 7-2 loss on the road to the Twins on Sunday.

House allowed five earned runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out two batters and walked two. His season ERA is up to 14.14.

Anthony Swarzak came on in relief for House and gave up a three-run home run to Torii Hunter, which extended the Twins’ lead to 7-1 (one of the runners reached base against House).

Michael Brantley drove in the Indians’ first run with a single after Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis hit two-out singles in the third inning. In the ninth inning, Carlos Santana hit his second home run of the season to right field.

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Indians 4, Twins 2: Today's One Last Thing on Roberto Perez and his free-of-expectations bat

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 18, 2015

The Indians beat the Twins 4-2 Saturday, largely behind Danny Salazar’s six-inning, 10-strikeout debut.

Today’s One Last Thing: Roberto Perez and his unexpected offense

It was only about three weeks ago that Indians manager Terry Francona was talking to Perez in the clubhouse in Arizona. When the subject of Opening Day came up, Perez got goosebumps. He was going to break camp with the big-league squad for the first time, which Francona called one of those cool moments a manager get to have with new players each spring.

Now he’s acting as one of the hotter Indians hitters.

When Yan Gomes went down with a sprained right knee, defensively, the Indians weren’t going to have a let-down. Gomes is a very good defensive catcher but Roberto Perez might be even better. He’s been ranked by Baseball Prospectus as one of the best pitch framers in the minor leagues the past two seasons. He has an equally strong arm—he gunned down Billy Hamilton trying to steal second base toward the end of spring. Not many guys have done that.

Offense is where Gomes separates himself from Perez.

Plus, Gomes was a talented right-handed hitter in a lefty-heavy lineup. So his absence in the batting order is pretty hard to replace (Dan Szymborski of ESPN and ZiPS had Gomes as the 12th-most indispensable player for a reason).

Perez is a rookie backup, defensive-minded catcher. So he’s in the position that any offense he provides is a nice boost. He has almost no expectations offensively. And it’s only been seven games, but he’s done well so far.

He’s hitting .316 this season (batting average is way too fickle a number to look at this early, but it at least shows he’s hitting well), he went 3-for-4 Saturday and has now hit two home runs in only seven games played. He hit his first home run in Houston filling in for a day and today added a second-deck solo shot to left-center field. Both pitches were jumped on and both were no-doubters.

For two months as Gomes rehabs, Perez will hold his own defensively. Pitchers have talked before about how much they love working with him. Francona said Perez was “made to catch.”

If he can do the same offensively, especially while the top of the lineup struggles to get going, Perez is suddenly one of the more valuable players on the roster, all things considered.

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