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Indians struggle to capitalize on opportunities, fall to Kansas City Royals 5-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 27, 2017

CLEVELAND: The Indians’ certainly had their opportunities but never could deliver the needed hit, wasting several scoring chances in a 5-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Saturday at Progressive Field.

Led by Francisco Lindor’s solo home run in the first inning and Jason Kipnis’ RBI-single in the third, the Indians took a 2-1 lead but were then held at bay the rest of the day. The Indians three times stranded multiple runners on base after the third inning, and all three times didn’t get it out of the infield.

Facing royals starter Jason Vargas (6-3), the Indians left the bases loaded in the fourth. Kipnis with two outs narrowly missed a grand slam down the right-field line but pulled it foul by a few feet. He then popped out to first base.

The fifth and seventh innings ended with similar results. Jose Ramirez with two on and two out in the fifth popped out to second base. And with two on and one out in the seventh, Edwin Encarnacion grounded into an inning-ending double 4-6-3 double play.

The Indians (24-23) finished the day 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.

“We’ve got to get a line moving and keep it moving,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “It seems like at times, we get runners on with two outs. Then you have to get a hit as opposed to giving yourself a lot of opportunities. When you don’t cash in, it’s not that big [of a] deal because you’ll have the next inning, you’ll have another opportunity. When you don’t, it’s really glaring.”

The Royals (21-27) threatened while facing starting pitcher Danny Salazar (3-5) and finished the job against the bullpen. Still holding onto a 2-1 lead, Salazar gave up a double and walked two to end his day in the sixth inning with the bases loaded.

Boone Logan’s first and only pitch was lined back up the middle by Alex Gordon for an RBI-single to tie it 2-2. Facing Nick Goody, Alcides Escobar then rifled a two-run double just over the head of Lindor to give the Royals a 4-2 lead. Mike Moustakas added a solo home run against Shawn Armstrong in the ninth to add an insurance run.

Salazar allowed four runs—three earned—on six hits and five walks, continuing his slow, frustrating start to the 2017 season, in which he now has a 5.50 ERA.

The Indians could be nearing a move with Salazar to try to get him on the right track. A couple of weeks ago the club revamped his pre-game routine in an effort to fix his first-inning issues, though the results haven’t been quite what they wanted. It could potentially mean a temporary move to the bullpen, something made a bit easier with Corey Kluber’s possible return to the rotation on Thursday. Though, the club has yet to talk through that decision.

“I still think he didn’t command the ball where he wanted to and there’s those walks that are mixed in that really hurt, like the inning when he came out,” Francona said. “We got out of innings, there was traffic the whole time. We’ll kind of put our heads together and see what’s the next best step for him because I think he’s probably searching a little bit, too.”

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Indians unveil Frank Robinson statue; Corey Kluber could return to rotation on Thursday

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 27, 2017

CLEVELAND: The Indians on Saturday celebrated Frank Robinson’s contributions to the game of baseball and unveiled a statue in his honor in the middle of Heritage Park.

Robinson became the first African-American manager in the major leagues as a player-manager with the Indians in 1975. He also had a Hall-of-Fame career as a player, winning two MVPs, a Triple Crown and belting 586 career home runs.

But it was his role in integrating and bettering the culture of the game that stands as Robinson’s lasting impact on baseball.

“Today is extra special because of the social significance, commemorating the role the game of baseball and one of its all-time greats played in affecting social change in our country,” said Indians owner Paul Dolan. “We welcome Frank Robinson and his family and all the special gusts who are here with us today.”

In attendance were many of baseball’s pioneers and all-time greats, including Hank Aaron. Jackie Robinson’s daughter, Sharon, was also in attendance.

"Thank you to the Cleveland Indians, this city, the fans of the Indians, and to the Dolan Family,” Robinson said. “It is a great day here. I didn't think I would see this day, but it is wonderful to be here.”

Robinson also joked that the statue looked good, despite what he gave the sculptor to work with.

“It's a great piece of artwork. I don't know how you were able to do it with what you had to work with,” Robinson said. “Thank you very much for making me look good. I appreciate this day and I'll enjoy it for the rest of my life. Thank you.”

Coming attraction

Indians ace Corey Kluber is close to returning to the starting rotation as rehabs from a strained lower back.

Kluber threw 47 pitches in a rehab assignment for the RubberDucks on Friday night and was so efficient he needed to finish his outing in the bullpen. He reported normal post-start soreness on Saturday, a positive sign that the back issue that has plagued him for most of the regular season should be behind him.

The club has yet to finalize the plan but per Indians manager Terry Francona, Kluber’s next start will be with the Indians and will most likely come on Thursday against the Oakland Athletics.

“We have so many days off coming off after that point that I’d like to sit with [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] and the other guys and kind of map out what’s in our best interest, putting some parameters in place like just who we’re playing, the days off, all those things,” Francona said. “We haven’t fit all those things together yet, but he will pitch for us.”

Kluber has dealt with back stiffness since at least his second start of the season against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He pitched through the discomfort until it became too much to handle in a start in the cold against Detroit earlier this month. For Kluber, he began to walk the line between playing through the pain and trying to push something to the point of possibly hurting the club, not to mention himself.

“I think that’s obviously the point we got to,” Kluber said. “We tried for a while to kind of manage it and figure out ways to still be able to go out there and pitch and stuff. It kind of just got the point where, little by little, it got worse. It kind of got to the point where I wasn’t doing myself any favors, I wasn’t doing the team any favors by kind of guessing every time out, how it was going to react.”

When Francona took Kluber out in Detroit, he knew something was off.

“When he came off the field in Detroit, when Mickey made that trip to the mound, he came off and he said, ‘This isn’t good,’” Francona said. “So when he came off the field, I went down into the tunnel with him and I could tell. It had just gotten to the point that something needed to be done.”

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Royals 6, Indians 4: 17 Walk-Off Thoughts on Francisco Lindor, taking the blame, Mike Clevinger

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 26, 2017

Here are 17 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

1. In the Indians’ season-opening series against the Texas Rangers, Francisco Lindor committed a costly error that had him visibly frustrated. He took out that frustration be crushing a solo home run and then, later, belting a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth.

2. Lindor’s defensive mistakes are few-and-far-between. The highlight-reel, diving stops heavily outweigh the mishaps, and he earned a Platinum Glove for his play last season. It makes it that much more of a sight when Lindor does mishandle a ball.

3. That happened again Friday night, only this time, there was no completely-redeem-yourself grand slam later in the night. With a runner on first, Lindor went to back-hand a routine ground ball but missed it. Instead of there being two outs in the eighth with nobody on, there were no outs and runners on the corners. Even Andrew Miller wasn’t able to escape the inning with the score still deadlocked at 4-4.

4. Indians manager Terry Francona on the play: “I think he committed to the backhand and when it’s over and look back, he probably could’ve got around it. It’s happening quick, then he went to the backhand and it didn’t come up as high as he thought. It ends up being a really big play, obviously. … Again, sometimes because he’s been so good, we forget that he’s still young. But yeah, I think that’s probably what he was thinking.”

5. Lindor, who earlier had an RBI-single, took complete responsibility for the loss, saying, "I tried to backhand the ball. I tried to rush to make the double play. I know Hosmer, he runs well. It is on me, man. Today's loss is on me. I messed up. The pitchers, they did a great job today as usual. The offense did a great job as well. Today is on me. I know it is not my first time, and it won't be my last. But stuff like that can't happen.”

6. Lindor was, like he was in Texas, visibly frustrated. After the go-ahead runs scored, he screamed into his glove after relaying the ball to the infield.

7. Lindor: "I could've stayed back and just got one out. But I missed the ball, so I should have done that. But I play without a fear of making a mistake. You try to go out there, and not try to make a mistake, not try to make an error. But I did. It was a tough one today. We will bounce back tomorrow, but it'll be tough to drive home tonight."

8. The loss dropped the Indians to 24-22 this season. They have continued to tread water through April and now May. The starting rotation has been banged up and not quite itself, the offense went through a pretty severe slump in the beginning of May and the outfield has been a revolving door to the disabled list. Through it all, the Indians have managed that 24-22 record. It can be taken a couple of ways—that they’re stuck around the .500 mark, or that they’ve stayed above .500 while finding their footing.

9. The Indians might be benefitting from playing in the 2017 American League Central. The Twins lead the division at 25-19 as of this typing. They’re a team many have viewed as probably still a year or two away from really contending, though they’ve been a nice surprise and one of the bigger ones in baseball thus far. The Indians at 2-games back with the calendar still shy of June 1 are still considered pretty heavy favorites against the Twins. Then there’s the Tigers and Royals, who sit at 22-24 and 20-27, respectively, and could each be on the precipice of pretty major fire sales at the trade deadline. The Chicago White Sox acted as the go-team team for major-league talent this past offseason. The Tigers and Royals could fill much of the league’s trade needs in July.

10. The Indians have not yet found that extra gear that they had last June, when the 14-game winning streak propelled them to the front of the division. But they’ve also hung around and don’t appear to be in a bad spot as of May 26.

11. Lindor: "We are getting to a point in the season where we have to get it going a little bit. I know it is part of the game. I know we are not going to win every game, but we are not going to lose every game either. It is just a matter of making sure we do things the right way. The guys are. We are doing it the right way. They make a mistake, then we capitalize. Then if we make a mistake, they capitalize and we end up losing the game. It is part of the game. It happens. You just have to make sure you don't do it 80 times a year. Just do it only 65-70 times a year and we'll be fine and in the playoffs."

12. Mike Clevinger allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out six. All the damage came via two home runs, both on changeups. That pitch was off all night, and the Royals made him pay for it.

13. Clevinger: “It was an inconsistent day with that pitch. That pitch stuck out to me. I just didn’t find consistency throughout the game. I’d get some good movement, some good bite, throw it wherever I wanted to and then I noticed it would start trickling back over the plate, not getting the same bite at the end.”

14. Clevinger has had a positive stretch in the majors in Corey Kluber’s absence, now owning a 2.82 ERA.

15. Francona: “It’s a shame because I thought he threw the ball pretty well. On two changeups that both of them he kind of yanked across the plate, kind of went right into Moss’ swing path. And it’s a shame because he really—I think he had six strikeouts and only the one walk. That was the last hitter he faced. But you know, the damage was done. Like you said, on two swings. But he worked ahead, he did a lot of good things. I don’t want him to lose sight of that.”

16. Kluber, meanwhile, threw five innings for Double-A Akron in a rehab assignment. The club will see how he feels and talk about options on Saturday for his next step.

17. Francona: “I think everything went real well. He said he felt good and I think he went through 15 pitches afterwards in the bullpen. So we’ll sit down with him tomorrow and kind of see what the next step should be. And we may not know tomorrow, but we’ll sit down and talk to him among ourselves and see what—but he needs to be in that conversation. And one we’ll want to see how he bounces back, too.”

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Error on Francisco Lindor leads to go-ahead runs in eighth, Indians lose 6-4 to Kansas City Royals

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 26, 2017

CLEVELAND: Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor has had a knack for the spotlight in some big moments this season. On Friday night, he found the spotlight again but for the wrong reason, as the Indians fell to the Kansas City Royals 6-4 at Progressive Field.

The Indians (24-22) and Royals (20-27) entered the eighth inning in a 4-4 tie. Lorenzo Cain singled off of Bryan Shaw to open the inning, which brought Andrew Miller into the game. Facing Eric Hosmer, Miller induced the routine-looking double-play ball to shortstop, but Lindor misplayed it, putting runners on the corners with nobody out.

Two batters later, Jorge Bonifacio made the error count, ripping a two-run double to left field to put the Royals up 6-4.

The Indians brought the tying run into scoring position in the bottom of the eighth but came up short. In one of the biggest at-bats of the night, Royals reliever Joakim Soria with two on and two out in the inning struck out Edwin Encarnacion swinging, ending the Indians’ best chance to close the gap.

The ninth inning against Royals closer Kelvin Herrera was quieter, as the Indians failed to make up for a costly error in the eighth.

Earlier, the Indians took an early 4-0 lead against Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy. In the second inning, Jose Ramirez belted a solo home run to right field, his seventh of the season, to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage. An inning later, two walks to lead off the inning led to back-to-back RBI-singles by Lindor and Michael Brantley, respectively, and an RBI-groundout by Carlos Santana to make it 4-0.

It extended hit current streaks for Lindor and Brantley to 11 and 10 games, respectively. They are the only teammates this season to have multiple hit streaks of at least 10 games.

The Royals the Indians’ 4-0 lead by the fifth inning. As has at times been the story, Mike Clevinger in the fourth inning recorded the first two outs but couldn’t escape unscathed. With two outs and a runner on, Bonifacio singled and was followed by former Indians outfielder Brandon Moss, acting as the designated hitter for the Royals Friday night, who crushed a three-run home run to slice into the lead. Two innings later, Mike Moustakas added a solo home run to tie it 4-4.

Clevinger lasted five innings, gave up four runs on eight hits and struck out six, raising his ERA in the majors this season to 2.82.

With the loss, the Indians are now 0-2 at home this season in games in which a squirrel runs onto the field. In the sixth inning of Friday’s game, a squirrel ran onto the field but didn’t cause much of a disturbance. A few years after the “Rally Squirrel” craze, the Indians this season haven’t had as much magic when visited by their critter friends.

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Indians to unveil Frank Robinson statue Saturday; Austin Jackson activated from DL

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 26, 2017

CLEVELAND: The Indians are set to unveil a Frank Robinson statue in Heritage Park beyond the center-field wall prior to Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Royals. Robinson’s statue will join those commemorating Bob Feller, Larry Doby and Jim Thome.

Robinson became the first African-American manager in the major leagues in 1975 as player-manager with the Indians. He later served as the Indians’ manager alone in 1977. Due to those feats, Robinson holds a special place in baseball history as one who who helped to integrate the game.

A Hall-of-Fame inductee in 1982, Robinson also boasts a stellar resume as a player, which includes two MVP awards, the Triple Crown in 1966 and 586 home runs, which ranks him 10th all time.

Hank Aaron, one of baseball’s all-time greats and the former home-run king, and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, will also be on hand for the ceremony.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “As a team, we’ll go out there as a team to watch the ceremony. We’ve had the honor or the pleasure, both, to [be out there for] Thome, Larry Doby. … . It will be an honor to be able to be part of the audience watching him.”

Robinson is perhaps best known for being the first African American manager in the game, which is a monumental note, something that transcends statistics, and with good reason. It has, meanwhile, in a way overshadowed how prolific of a hitter Robinson was during his time as a player.

“You kidding me? He was a force,” Francona said. “When you talk to guys like my dad, [there is] a lot of respect for the way he played the game.”

Outfield shuffle

Lately, the Indians’ outfield hasn’t been a breeding ground for stability, with Michael Brantley, Austin Jackson, Brandon Guyer, Abraham Almonte and Lonnie Chisenhall all either landing on the disabled list or having to sit out for a few days recently due to a slew of injuries.

On Friday, Jackson returned to the active roster, taking Chisenhall’s spot, who was put on the 7-day concussion disabled list on Thursday. Jackson had been out with a hyperextended big toe.

Had the Indians and Cincinnati Reds played on Thursday, the club would have called up relief pitcher Kyle Crockett. But free of that game due to inclement weather and with the bench getting light, Jackson was added instead.

“Having a two-man bench is not a good way to go for very long,” Francona said. “We had five DL’d outfielders. That’s digging pretty deep.”

As for Chisenhall, he and the Indians are still unsure as to how or when something might have happened to contribute to his concussion-like symptoms that he reported to the team on Wednesday. The hope is still that Chisenhall can return to the team when eligible on Monday.

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Indians’ game against Cincinnati Reds postponed to July 24; Lonnie Chisenhall placed on 7-day DL

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 25, 2017

CLEVELAND: After causing a two-hour delay in Wednesday’s game, the rain finished the job on Thursday, as the Indians’ game against the Cincinnati Reds was postponed due to inclement weather.

The game has been rescheduled for July 24 at 7:10 p.m. Tickets marked for the May 25 rain-out game will be valid for the July 24 make-up game. Fans who purchased tickets directly from the Indians and who will not be able to attend the July 24 make-up date can exchange them for two other eligible games—Monday, June 26 or Wednesday, June 28 against the Texas Rangers. Exchanges for those two games will begin on May 30 at 10 a.m. Fans can visit indians.com/schedulechanges for more information.

Chisenhall to DL

The Indians on Thursday placed outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on the 7-day concussion disabled list after he experienced concussion-like symptoms prior to Wednesday’s game.

Per Indians manager Terry Francona, Chisenhall reported feeling “cloudy” ahead of Wednesday’s game but was unsure of the cause. He was was tested by the club and scratched from the starting lineup. Per Francona, it appears as though Chisenhall sustained a lower-grade concussion.

The DL-stint will be back-dated to Monday. The hope is that Chisenhall can return this upcoming Monday when he’s eligible to return from the DL.

“That’s just something, you talk about a lower-grade ankle, that’s one thing, but when you’re talking about a concussion, you need to err on the side of caution,” Francona said. “Don’t think he knew if it was his ear or if he was sick. But he was cloudy.”

The Indians will have some options as to the corresponding move, which wasn’t needed on Thursday due to the postponed game. Francona said on Wednesday that as long as Jackson got through his scheduled rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Thursday night, that he’d likely be reactivated this weekend. That could be a possibility whether he plays on Thursday or not.

The club could also call up a reliever to add depth to the bullpen. Francona added on Thursday that had they played, Kyle Crockett likely would have been recalled in case starting pitcher Mike Clevinger had his outing cut short due to a rain delay in the early innings.

Clevinger is now slated to start Friday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, with each starter pushed back a day in succession.

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Reds 4, Indians 3: 12 Walk-Off Thoughts on Cody Allen’s streak, a win for a second, Carlos Santana

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 25, 2017

Here are 12 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, which included  a two-hour, one-minute rain delay.

1. For a split second, the Indians won Wednesday night’s game 3-2. But the speed of Billy Hamilton is not to be trifled with. And so the delete buttons were mashed in the press box a few minutes later.

2. It appeared as though Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor had turned a brilliant 3-6-3 double play to nab baseball’s fastest player and end the game. It appeared as as though Cody Allen had converted his 14th straight save opportunity of the season. But, Hamilton beat the throw to first, the Reds had new life and Allen had to retake the mound. Zack Cozart then lined a ball to left field, which Michael Brantley dove for and missed. He then had trouble finding the ball, and Hamilton, who was off on the pitch, scored all the way from first to give the Reds their first lead of the night.

3. The interesting part of the night isn’t just the blown save, which was Allen’s first since Aug. 17 of last year, a string of 28 chances including the postseason. It’s the notion of the game appearing to be over, and then Allen and everyone else having to reset, get back into the game and finish it. Indians manager Terry Francona has previously discussed how difficult those things can be, in that it can be challenging to go in and out of that in-game mindset.

4. Francona on Wednesday night: “That was something we were kind of talking about. It’s kind of hard once you think the game’s over, you kind of let your emotion go. If there’s anybody that I would trust to reel it back in, it’s Cody. But I think that is a tough one. On one hand, there was time, cause it took him awhile, but it’s hard on anybody, I think Cody probably the hardest.”

5. Allen refused to make it an excuse, saying, “Obviously, you think it's over right there, but once they challenge it, you have to take a step back and get ready just in case. I was ready. I'm not going to say that Zack Cozart got a base hit because of that. He hit a pretty good pitch. That's a part of baseball.”

6. Regardless of those challenges, it was the right call, which is the intent of replay. The review system has been good for baseball, although it can make for slightly awkward situations. Even if the call had stood and the Indians won, it is a less-than-ideal situation of one second of celebration followed by 2-3 minutes of waiting around followed by another, subdued celebration. In this case, the celebration was called off and then reversed to the other dugout. But, getting the call right is the important thing.

7. Allen: “Up until we saw it, I thought he was out. A guy like that is going to make any play close. They got the call right. He was safe. That's why the rule is there. If that was us on the other side, we'd want that. It's something you just have to deal with, try to figure out a way to not let it affect you.”

8. Allen had been on an elite run as the Indians’ closer, something that probably would have received much more attention by now if not for the dominance of Andrew Miller right in front of him. While Miller was garnering some warranted praise for his historic strikeout pace in the postseason, it was Allen who ended the Indians’ run to the World Series without allowing an earned run. He was nearly perfect in the postseason and then was named the AL’s Reliever of the Month for April. And he nearly got through May without blowing a save. As pointed out by MLB.com's Jordan Bastian, in-between those blown saves he had a 0.73 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched, including the postseason. There’s a real possibility that Allen might have an argument as one of baseball’s most under appreciated relievers.

9. Francona: “I’m not sure I consider it a run, I think he’s just really good. When you have one-run games, you run the risk of something happening, you could lose. It’s nice if you can spread a game out, we didn’t. Had a chance to be a nice, crisp win, but we didn’t spread it out. I don’t ever feel like it’s on Cody. We could’ve done some things better to score a few more runs.”

10. It was a solid play to even make it close with Hamilton running. Santana fielded it cleanly, fired a bullet to Lindor and then got back to first base for the throw. Earlier in the inning, he fielded a bunt and threw to third base to get the lead out in another nice play. For a first baseman, Santana does possess above-average athleticism and an above-average arm from his outfield and catching days. He’s not always the cleanest fielding the ball—as evidenced by an error earlier in the game—but he can fire it around the diamond as well as any and made two nice plays that nearly ended the game in the ninth.

11. Francona: “That was as good [of] a potential double play turn as you’re ever going to see. To have a chance to get him—and it was bang-bang as they get—Carlos was quick, he was accurate, he was strong and then Frankie came flying across. Carlos made a couple, he made an error, but man he was active over there. Charging on the bunt, being aggressive, getting a force out, he was all over the place tonight. Swinging the bat great. … Everybody has different skill sets. Some guys are really good catching the ball, some guys are tentative to throw. Sometimes that’s why they’re at first. Carlos’ arm has never been in question. But his ability, I think he’s playing with some confidence, maybe more than he used to, cause you have to have that to even attempt to make a play.”

12. Santana: “I'm prepared. I prepare for every situation. ... Today, I threw a couple, especially with the ball in the [ninth] inning. I try to do what I can to help my team, and I enjoy it. That's why I come early to the field and prepare and take ground balls. For that, for that situation. It's really important for me and all the infielders, and we're prepared for whatever situation in the game.”

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Indians fall 4-3 in Cincinnati Reds, blow ninth-inning lead after lengthy rain delay

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 24, 2017

CLEVELAND: The Indians suffered a rare, ninth-inning loss in a rain-delayed, 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds at Progressive Field.

The Indians lead 3-2 entering the ninth inning with closer Cody Allen on the mound, who entered a perfect 13-for-13 in save chances this season. That streak ended Wednesday night.

The Reds began the inning with two singles to put the go-ahead run on base. Jose Peraza laid down a bunt to move them over, but an aggressive play and nice throw from Carlos Santana got the out at third. Billy Hamilton then nearly grounded into a game-ending 3-6-3 double play via another nice play by Santana, but he beat the throw in a bang-bang play. He was originally called out, appearing to end the game in the Indians’ favor, but the call was overturned after a manager’s replay challenge.

Still alive, the decisive blow came a two pitchers later. Zack Cozart lined a ball to left field that fell just in front of a diving Michael Brantley. Instead of the game being over via a diving catch, Brantley searched for the ball on the ground as Hamilton, arguably baseball’s fastest player, scored from first base to give the Reds a 4-3 lead, their first of the night.

It was Allen’s first blown save since Aug. 17 of last year, a string of 28 straight converted opportunities, including the postseason.

The Indians in the bottom of the ninth managed to put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with two outs against Raisel Iglesias via a walk by Jason Kipnis and a single by Francisco Lindor. Brantley, though, grounded out to end the game.

Earlier, the Indians took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, only a few minutes before heavy rains arrived in the top of the sixth inning. The rain forced a two-hour, one-minute delay before play resumed at 9:50 p.m. The possibility of inclement weather was one of the reasons why the Indians have started many week-day games in April and May at 6:10 p.m. instead of the traditional time of 7:10 p.m.

Santana provided all of the offense prior to the rain delay. Facing Reds starting pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla, Santana in the third inning crushed a two-run home run down the right-field line, an estimated 411-foot no doubter that cleared the seating and bounced around the Right Field District area. It was his fifth home run of the season.

The Reds quickly tied it in the next half inning against Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer. Joey Votto singled and was followed by Adam Duvall, who belted a two-run home run to center field on a fastball that caught too much of the plate, tying it 2-2.

As the rains neared and the possibly of the game being called official after the completion of five innings, the Reds squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead after loading the bases against Bauer with one out and Votto at the plate. Trying to keep it tied, Bauer struck out Votto looking—one of the more difficult things to do in baseball against one of the game’s best hitters—and then induced Duvall into a routine fly-out to right field to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Santana struck again. Kipnis led off the inning with a double and moved to third via a bunt by Lindor. Two batters later, Santana ripped an RBI-double to right field to put the Indians on top 3-2.

Bauer recorded one out in the sixth when the rain arrived. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings pitched.

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Indians manager Terry Francona OK with less ASG responsibility; Corey Kluber, Austin Jackson updates

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 24, 2017

CLEVELAND: A few changes came to the All-Star Game for this season, namely that it would no longer have any ties to which team holds home-field advantage in the World Series. The selection of who plays in the All-Star Game was also altered, with managers being taken out of the equation.

Indians manager Terry Francona is perfectly fine with the lessened responsibility. This will be the third time Francona has managed the AL All-Stars, the first two times coming after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007, respectively. In recent years, the manager played a role in filling out part of the pitching staff and the last few spots of the roster. This will be the first time he has no say in who plays in the game. It comes as a relief and a time-savor.

“In the new agreement, the manager has zero say-so in the players, which is fine by me,” Francona said. “Unless I have the ability to take some guys from the Indians, I am fine with somebody else picking because it took a lot of time and effort to try to be organized enough where you can call every manager to one, get their input, and then maybe call them back and say, ‘Look, this guy, I know he's worthy, but we can't do it and here's why. If you want me to talk to him, I will.' That eats up a lot of time.”

It relieves Francona from having to deal with baseball politics, which became somewhat of an issue in 2008 in Boston. Francona often isn’t a big fan of holding traditional team meetings, but it became warranted.

“Shoot, in '08 in Boston, my first team meeting of the year was because of the All-Star game because guys were upset,” Francona said. “I don't think that they felt like I was fighting hard enough [for them]. Even then, there were so many rules in place. Like if this guy doesn't go, there is a formula, the manager picks very few players, used to, and now it is none. I'm OK with that.”

Injury updates

Indians ace Corey Kluber and outfielder Austin Jackson are each scheduled to play on Thursday for Triple-A Columbus in rehab assignments.

Kluber, dealing with a lower back strain, is expected to throw about 75 pitches. The club will get together after that start and determine the next step.

“We’ll sit down with him and first figure out what his next step is,” Francona said. “Is it with us? Is it another start? And when that will be. And then from there, we’d make other decisions.”

Jackson, if all goes well Thursday, is on track to be activated from the 10-day disabled list this weekend, per Francona. Jackson has been out with a hyperextended big toe.

Laughing matter

Francona and bench coach Brad Mills found themselves in a tight spot in Tuesday’s 8-7 win against the Cincinnati Reds. Playing under National League rules in a tied 7-7 game, Francona and Mills were trying to figure out how to line up hitters, with pitcher Andrew Miller scheduled to hit.

Luckily, the issue was resolved when Drew Storen uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Edwin Encarnacion to score and give the Indians an 8-7 lead. That also allowed them to let Miller bat and thus keep him in the game to pitch. Though it did lead to a humorous exchange with Miller seeking scouting reports of a rare at-bat.

“Millsy and I are going back and forth, and all of the sudden, the big [guy] is standing next to me,” Francona said of Miller. “He’s got that helmet on, he looks like he’s seven [feet tall]. He’s asking [hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo], ‘Hey, what’s his secondary stuff like?’ I started laughing. I’m like, ‘Man. If that comes down to that, we’re in trouble.’”

American League pitchers having to bat, and whether the NL should adopt the designated hitter rule, has been of much discussion around baseball of quite some time. Francona half-joked on Wednesday that earlier, a Carlos Carrasco at-bat derailed an inning.

“We told Carrasco, ‘Don’t swing, just maybe bunt for a hit,’’ Francona said. “He bunted it right back to the pitcher on the first pitch of the inning. So then [Jason Kipnis] had to go up there and look at a couple of strikes. It ruined the whole inning. You know how you [hold up four fingers] for the [intentional walk]? We should have [held up three fingers for three strikes] just to bring him back.”

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Indians sign outfielder, Akron native David Lough to minor league deal

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 23, 2017

One of Akron’s native sons in the baseball world is coming back to Ohio.

The Indians on Tuesday signed free-agent outfielder David Lough to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus. Lough is from the Akron area and attended Green High School.

Lough, 31, has a totaled a career .254 average across five seasons in the major leagues, having spent time with the Kansas City Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies between 2012 and 2016. His productive season came in 2013 with the Royals. In 96 games, Lough hit .286 with five home runs, 17 doubles and four triples to go with 33 RBI and five stolen bases en route to an eighth-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting. Last season, he hit .239 with a .342 on-base percentage with three doubles and four RBI in 30 games with the Phillies.

Lough was signed this offseason to a minor-league deal by the Detroit Tigers and appeared in 24 games at the Triple-A level before being released on May 17. He struggled to begin the season, hitting just .169 in 63 plate appearances.

Lough provides some additional outfield depth within the organization following the rash of injuries in Cleveland that included stints on the 10-day disabled list for Austin Jackson (toe), Brandon Guyer (wrist) and Abraham Almonte (bicep). Those injuries in part helped to pave the way to the majors for top prospect Bradley Zimmer, who made his major-league debut on May 16, one day before the Tigers made Lough available via his release. Lough has played in all three outfield spots in his career.

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