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Danny Salazar roughed up again in 9-1 loss to Oakland A’s

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 24, 2016

Danny Salazar was again shaky in his second start after returning from the disabled list in a 9-1 loss to the Oakland A’s Tuesday night.

Salazar was tagged for three runs in the first inning, just like in his initial start after being activated, this time via a three-run home run off the bat of Khris Davis. He finished after four innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks.

Salazar has now allowed nine runs in five innings in those two outings, certainly not alleviating any concerns after he was sent to the DL with elbow inflammation. Following his first start, he had to complete his work in the bullpen to get lengthened out.

The Indians, meanwhile, struggled to hit A’s starter Sean Manaea, who gave up one run in seven innings pitched.

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Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Miller shut out A’s in 1-0 win

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 23, 2016

Indians pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Andrew Miller were overpowering, and Carlos Santana provided the only offense of the night in a 1-0 win against the Oakland A’s.

Carrasco (9-6, 3.12 ERA) threw eight scoreless innings, allowing only four hits and striking out nine. After Cody Allen needed 30 pitches to get the save in Sunday’s win against the Toronto Blue Jays, Andrew Miller took the mound in the ninth and struck out the side.

Still in a 0-0 deadlock in the eighth, Santana belted a solo home run just inside the right-field foul pole. It was his 27th of the season, which ties his career high (2011, 2014).

The Indians extended their lead in the American League Central to 7.5 games, as the Detroit Tigers were off on Monday.

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Indians 3, Blue Jays 2: Ryan Lewis’ 21 Walk-Off Thoughts on Jose Ramirez, Michael Clevinger

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 21, 2016

Here are 21 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 3-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

1. What an ending to the homestand this was for the Indians and, really, anyone who’s a fan of great baseball?

2. Jose Ramirez, who’s come through so often this season, did it again, hitting a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Blue Jays and mark the third game in the last four with late-game heroics.

3. After the walk-off wins on Thursday and Friday—Friday especially—Sunday’s finish was as predictable as it was unbelievable.

4. Said Corey Kluber, who delivered another strong outing on Sunday, “I’m glad that he continually keeps being the guy coming up in those spots. For whatever reason, he’s able to come through in those spots more often than not. Right now, I think there’s nobody else we’d rather have up in that situation.”



5. Ramirez has a .381 average with runners in scoring position this year, the third-highest mark in the majors. And he hit two of the Indians’ biggest home runs of the season in the last three days.  Francisco Lindor, who was on first for Ramirez’s blast, sees a different hitter when a runner is on second or the game is on the line.

6. Said Lindor, “The first day, I wanted Santana to get to on base because I had a feeling Ramirez was going to do something special. When someone’s on second base, Ramirez turns into a whole different hitter. It happened and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow.’ Today he was 0-for-3. I thought he was going to take the first pitch because it’s a lefty he hasn’t hit all day. I saw his swing, as soon as he hit that ball, I’m like, ‘Oh, wow.’ It’s unreal. It’s fun to watch him. It makes me happy, puts a smile on my face every time I know he’s going to be playing.”

7. Ramirez has without question been one of the more valuable members of the roster this entire season. This last homestand, he repeatedly came through when they needed him most. Not bad for a player who, at the beginning of the year, most thought would just end up as a nice utility guy off the bench. He’s been right in the middle of a lot of the Indians’ success in 2016.

8. If not for Michael Clevinger, that home run might not have meant nearly as much. Clevinger entered in a situation that can’t be too far from a worst-case scenario for a rookie pitcher, especially one that’s been converted, for now, to the bullpen. Clevinger relieved Kluber with the bases loaded and two outs gone in the seventh inning and Edwin Encarnacion, an MVP candidate, at the plate, with the Indians trying to keep it a one-run game.

More: Andrew Miller handling flexible role, high-leverage situations

9. And it included some mid-at-bat confusion. As Clevinger became set, Encarnacion raised his hand to ask for time and was granted it. Clevinger then reset and with home plate umpire Ramon De Jesus’ arms still held up, indicating time, Clevinger was called for a balk. Ryan Goins, at third, trotted home and Indians manager Terry Francona came out to ask for an explanation. He didn’t get a good one.

10. Said Francona, “They called a balk, but thank goodness there was a timeout. I just wanted to find out why he called it. It was the fifth pitch. I was getting frustrated because the answers I was getting were wrong. I just wanted to make sure that something didn't happen that shouldn't on the next pitch.”

11. Eventually, Goins was sent back to third base. And on the next pitch, Clevinger struck out Encarnacion with a fastball low and away, inciting a fist-pump from Roberto Perez.

12. Said Clevinger, “It definitely brought intensity to a new level plus it has been like a playoff atmosphere for this whole series. Then with the runners on base, I just tried to stay as locked in as a could.”

13. Ramirez’s home run was the biggest moment of the game. But without Clevinger’s, it might not have mattered.

14. Said Francona, “He kept his composure. There was a lot going on, with the balk call, the timeout, the discussions about it. He kept his composure. That probably wouldn't be the first situation I'd pick for him coming in in relief. I just thought Kluber had gone far enough. He had two quick outs and then he couldn't get that last out. I didn't feel good about him facing another hitter. But sometimes when you do that, now Clevinger feels good. I think he already did, but he feels better. Every experience he gets is going to help him.”

More: Indians' inner fight on display with stretch of comebacks, walk-off wins

15. The Indians trailed until Ramirez’s home run in the eighth. On Friday, they trailed until the moment Naquin slide across home.

16. Joked Francona, “We won two out of three and I think we had the lead for, like, 10 minutes.”

17. This series between the Indians and Blue Jays was wild. It was also a lot of fun in the stands. There were tons of Blue Jays fans at each game, chanting back and forth with the Indians’ fans. It created somewhat of a playoff atmosphere for two teams that could meet in October.

18. Said Francona, “I think it gives everybody [an idea of what a playoff atmosphere is like], myself included. There's no feeling that I can think of like that. Your heart is in your throat, but you like it. It's agony, but it's also awesome. That's why we do this. Our young guys have never flinched, so I think that they look like they’re having the time of their life. They should.”

19. Lindor wants more, saying, “I’ve never played in the playoffs up here. But if this is what the playoffs feels like, I ask the Lord to give me an opportunity to play in it every single year. Because it was pretty fun.”

20. The Indians went 8-3 this homestand, which included six come-from-behind wins and the franchise’s first inside-the-park walk-off home run in roughly a century. And they lead their division by seven games.

21. The Indians right now are having a blast, and Cleveland fans certainly had a blast this homestand. Heading into late August and September, the Indians keep coming through when the time is right.

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Jose Ramirez, Indians find late-game magic again, rally to beat Toronto Blue Jays 3-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 21, 2016

The Indians have had something magical going on at Progressive Field lately.

Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Jose Ramirez belted a two-run home run to the Home Run Porch in left field, lifting the Indians to a 3-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.

It was third game out of the last four with late-game heroics for the Indians. Ramirez also hit a game-tying home run in Friday’s game, which came just before Tyler Naquin’s inside-the-park walk-off home run.

“We won two out of three and I think we had the lead for, like, 10 minutes,” Indians manager Terry Francona joked.

For Ramirez, who’s racked up clutch hits all season, this was one of his biggest after the Indians trailed all day, struggling to handle Marcus Stroman.

The Blue Jays finally relented to Cecil in the eighth. Francisco Lindor reached on a single before Ramirez came away with the decisive blow.

“I thought he was going to take the first pitch because it’s a lefty he hasn’t hit all day,” Lindor said. “I saw his swing, as soon as he hit that ball, I’m like, ‘Oh, wow.’ It’s unreal. It’s fun to watch him. It makes me happy, puts a smile on my face every time I know he’s going to be playing.”

Cody Allen entered in the ninth and, after walking two with two outs, shut the door for his 24th save of the season on his 29th pitch of the inning, improving the Indians to 71-51 overall and 8-3 during their 11-game homestand.

Corey Kluber delivered another strong outing, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out eight in 6 2/3 innings pitched.

He left the game with the Blue Jays up 2-1 and the bases loaded and two out. Michael Clevinger entered into tough situation, facing slugger Edwin Encarnacion and trying to keep it a one-run game.

Mid-way through the at-bat, Clevinger was called for a walk, which would have brought a run home. Indians manager Terry Francona came out to argue, as Encarnacion had raised his hand for and been granted time before the call. Ryan Goins was ordered to go back to third base. On the next pitch, Clevinger struck out Encarnacion looking, inciting a fist pump from catcher Roberto Perez.

Still a one-run game, Clevinger kept the door open for Ramirez’s game-winning home run.

“It was awesome,” Kluber said. “That was a big spot in the game. Obviously he didn’t have anywhere to put ‘em. He executed some awesome pitches right there.”

The Indians and Blue Jays finished a three-game series that included a lively crowd, mixed with fans from both teams. It could also be a potential playoff matchup, creating an electric atmosphere.

“I think it gives everybody [an idea of what a playoff atmosphere is like], myself included,” Francona said. “There's no feeling that I can think of like that. Your heart is in your throat, but you like it. It's agony, but it's also awesome. That's why we do this. Our young guys have never flinched, so I think that they look like they’re having the time of their life. They should.”

Lindor is ready for more.

“I’ve never played in the playoffs up here,” he said. “But if this is what the playoffs feels like, I ask the Lord to give me an opportunity to play in it every single year. Because it was pretty fun.”

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Blue Jays 6, Indians 5: Ryan Lewis’ 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on Josh Tomlin, Lonnie Chisenhall

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 20, 2016

Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday night.

1. On Opening Day, not many would have thought you could say that the Indians need the Josh Tomlin of the first half to re-emerge, but they’re in that position now.

2. For a stretch, Tomlin looked to be putting together an All-Star-caliber resume. But over his last four starts, he’s struggled, owning a 10.02 ERA in that stretch. On Saturday, he gave up six home runs, which included three home runs.

3. Said Indians manager Terry Francona, “First two runs were on the swinging bunt. Then they got a couple balls up and hit them good to right-center. Both went out. He had a clean fourth, we fought back and then he gave up the solo. That one hurt. Even though we had a lot of game left because both bullpens did a good job. It was a tough night for him to pitch because he’s a fly-ball pitcher. They’re a very good hitting team and he probably didn’t get the ball in as much as he would’ve liked.”

4. After the Indians tied it, Tomlin immediately give up a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion, giving the Blue Jays a 6-5 advantage. As he often has, Tomlin took credit for the loss.

5. Said Tomlin, “It’s very disappointing. Because the offense puts up a fight, they tie the game back up and make it a game. For me to go out there after that big inning and give up a home run to the first batter that inning. It erased that five-run inning which stinks. But I have got to do a better job of limiting the damage the previous innings. … They fought back and made it a game. For them to get that much adrenaline, to get the momentum in your dugout and then the first guy you faced you give up a home run. It knocks everyone down a little bit and I understand that. Obviously, wasn’t trying to do that but I have to execute a pitch there and get the lead guy out. I just didn’t do it and it ended up costing us a game.”



6. Since returning from the disabled list in the second half of the 2015 season, Tomlin has been one of the more consistent and productive players on the club, bringing a level of reliability rare for the No. 5 spot a team’s starting rotation. Lately, he’s been a bit shaky.

7. After the Indians’ Walk-Off wins on Thursday and Friday, it really felt like it wasn’t a matter of if, it was a matter of who would be the one to hit the game-tying and then game-winning home runs in the bottom of the ninth.

8. Tyler Naquin won Thursday’s game with a walk-off sacrifice fly. Then he won Friday’s game with a walk-off inside-the-park-home run, which followed Jose Ramirez’s game-tying home run.

More: A look at Tyler Naquin's inside-the-park walk-off home run and an improbable ninth inning

9. On Saturday, the Indians’ magic came in the fourth inning. Trailing 5-0, they put together a five-run fourth against Aaron Sanchez, capped by Lonnie Chisenhall’s three-run home run to tie it.

10. Chisenhall’s home run came on a 10-pitch the included him recovering after chasing a curveball. It ended with his eighth home run of the season.

11. Said Chisenhall, “After chasing early, it was nice to kind of settle down there. I don’t know how many pitches I saw. Being able to see that many pitches in a row, I was able to calm down. It was a good swing. It was nice to come back right there and answer back after they put up a few runs and put us in a good spot.”

More: Andrew Miller handling flexible role, high-leverage situations

12. To Chisenhall, that fight in the team has always been there, saying, “Since I’ve been here, we’ve had it. Even two years ago, three years ago when we weren’t even it it, we were still coming back in games and not giving up. That’s something to have. You don’t want to roll over, especially when you’re trying to pick up games or extend a lead or just make your organization proud. You go out there and you fight until the ninth and then come back and get them tomorrow.”

13. Chisenhall probably hasn’t gotten enough credit for the season he’s having, hitting .298 with eight home runs and 48 RBI. He also now has seven games with at least three RBI, the most on the team. He says it’s his mindset, and him doing a better job of transitioning from game to game.

14. Said Chisenhall, “Even-keel. Not putting too much thought into a good day or a bad day. So 0-for-4 with four K’s, you understand what happened and try to be positive and move on to the next day and not let bad things carry over and let the good things get in the way.”http://www.ohio.com/blogs/cleveland-indians/cleveland-indians-1.282227/indians-rally-for-five-run-fourth-inning-but-fall-short-6-5-to-toronto-blue-jays-1.706151

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Indians rally for five-run fourth inning but fall short 6-5 to Toronto Blue Jays

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 20, 2016

The Indians found some come-from-behind magic with a five-run inning but didn’t have enough it Saturday night, falling to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 on the heels of back-to-back walk-off wins.

Josh Tomlin’s poor stretch continued Saturday night, putting the Indians in an early 5-0 hole and eventually giving up the decisive home run.

After allowing seven earned runs in two of his three previous starts, Tomlin (11-7, 4.39 ERA) was hit for six earned runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. He also struck out five. In his last four starts combined, Tomlin has carried a 10.02 ERA.

The Blue Jays (70-53) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Darwin Barney singled and Ryan Goins doubled, putting two runners in scoring position. Devon Travis hit a soft grounder to third base. Trying to make a play, Jose Ramirez attempted a bare-handed play but missed. Barney easily scored, and with the ball trickling away behind Ramirez, Goins turned for home and scored as well.

Tomlin, always a pitcher susceptible to home runs, gave up two in the third inning. First, Russell Martin hit his second home run of the series, a solo shot. Melvin Upton later clubbed a two-run home run to center field, making it 5-0.

After consecutive nights of wild comebacks and walk-off victories, the Indians (70-51) found some magic in the fourth, still trailing by five against starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez. A walk, an error on Travis and a single by Francisco Lindor loaded the bases with nobody out. Mike Napoli swung for the seats but had to settle for a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Carlos Santana.

Jose Ramirez, still proving to be among the best hitters with runners in scoring position in baseball, singled up the middle to cut the Blue Jays’ lead to 5-2. Then, the big one: Lonnie Chisenhall turned on a Sanchez fastball, sending it to several rows deep in right field for a game-tying three-run home run, capping a five-run fourth inning.

But, it was short lived. To open the fifth inning, Edwin Encarnacion crushed a Tomlin offering three-fourths of the way up the bleachers in left field, making it 6-5.

This time, the Indians didn’t have an answer. A 1-2-3 seventh inning was followed with an eighth inning that ended on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Mike Napoil.

In the ninth, facing Roberto Osuna for the second straight night, the Indians this time couldn’t come up with the big hit. Ramirez flew out, Chisenhall struck out and Tyler Naquin, the hero from the previous two games, grounded out to end it.

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Indians 3, Blue Jays 2: Ryan Lewis’ 18 Walk-Off Thoughts on Tyler Naquin and an improbable ending

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 20, 2016

Here are 18 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 3-2 win against the Toronto Blue Jays Friday night.

1. There’s a good chance you’ll never this again—and of course, LeBron was there.

2. Down 2-1 with one out in the bottom of the ninth against the very good closer (Roberto Osuna) of a first-place team, the it looked like the Indians would go quietly into the night. Two swings later, it was bedlam.

3. First, Jose Ramirez drilled a solo home run to right field to tie it 2-2. Ramirez has been one of the best clutch hitters in baseball this season, bar none. Yes, it’s not a sustainable stat, and maybe scoff at RISP numbers. But so far this year, he’s been among the best, and that home run was clutch enough, to at least send it into extra innings.

4. Then, one of the craziest endings you’ll ever see to a baseball game. Tyler Naquin hit a high shot to deep right field that hit off the wall. It got away from right fielder Michael Saunders, trickling away. Center fielder Melvin Upton fielded it as Naquin neared third but fell down. Naquin turned to home and slid head-first ahead of the throw for a walk-off inside-the-park home run.

5. Naquin immediately sprung up and threw up a traditional Metal, “Rock-on” symbol with his hand, index and pinkie fingers extended. You know the one. It’ll be plastered around the clubhouse and park for a long time, and the Indians’ Twitter account (which does a fantastic job with everything, by the way) will surely use it.  

6. Said Naquin, “Always. Just rockin' out. That was a pretty cool moment, so I'm gonna get into it.”

7. What was he thinking when he got the sign to turn for home? “Keep running. Don't fall. I almost fell down there for a second. Just keep on running. Just keep on running. A hard slide. Beat the ball.”



8. Many Indians players and coaches thought it was gone off the bat, and had already stepped onto the warning track in front of the dugout. They had to retreat back, and then when Naquin turned for home, many of them sprinted to the plate with him.

9. Naquin at least had the idea of turning for home in his head, even as he rounded first, saying, “I was just thinking after I hit it, I took a couple steps out of the box and just pictured it kicking off the wall. I said, 'I have a chance to score if it kicks far enough.' And sure enough, it did.”

10. Not including a World Series winner or anything of that nature, it’s a pretty wild time to be a third base coach. Once Upton fell, Mike Sarbaugh could wave him home.

11. Said Sarbaugh, “Initially, I thought it was out. And then when it hit the wall, I saw that Upton was pretty far away from it backing up. And when he got to it, I thought we would have to stop him. But as soon as he fell, I thought we had a good chance of scoring. Just good job on Tyler’s part just making sure he kept running. That was a great way to win the game, that’s for sure. … When he’s coming around third, he’s looking at me. He did slow down a little bit, so to get him back going, he did a great job of keeping it. That was a lot of fun. Especially to end up on the good side.”

More: Indians, Paul Dolan add John Sherman as vice chairman, minority investor

12. Naquin also won Thursday night’s game with a walk-off sacrifice fly. Both games began with the Indians’ offense sputtering and them being down at least two runs for most of the night. Both ended with comebacks. It’s a testament to the resiliency of this team.

13. Indians manager Terry Francona didn’t need these games to know that, though. Said Francona, “I think I already know. Just because some nights when you don’t win, it doesn’t mean—I think the guys play until it’s time to go home. We’ve done that all year. It’s one of our qualities that I admire about our guys. I say it a lot of times when we come in here after a tough loss, we can win some of those games. Tonight, we did. They’re hard games to win, but every once in a while, you might win one of those.”

14. It also means Naquin has received two nights’ worth of the pummeling that follows a game-winning hit. Said Naquin, “No, man. I love 'em. Keep those coming. I'd actually like to win by five or 10 so we don't have to do that.”

15. The Indians have shown a rare confidence and ability to never be out of a game. It’s something that can’t be quantified or valued, but it’s been evident for most of the season and especially so lately.

16. The Indians never think they’re out of it. Said Trevor Bauer, “Mostly it’s just a confidence thing, though. Everybody believes we’re going to win. There wasn’t a second in that game where I’d feel like anybody thought we were going to lose, even though we were down the whole game. Confidence is a big thing. … There was never a second that I thought we were going to lose the game. That was a playoff atmosphere against a playoff-caliber team. That’s fun. Those games are fun. That’s what you play baseball for, games like that.”

17. The last walk-off inside-the-park home run in baseball was on May 25, 2013, when the San Francisco Giants’ Angel Pagan did it to beat the Colorado Rockies. The last time an Indians player did it was Braggo Roth on Aug. 13, 1916, to beat the St. Louis Browns, nearly 100 years to the day. And the Indians’ on Friday night included a game-tying home run just seconds before.

18. Don’t ever say baseball is boring. That was wild.

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Tyler Naquin inside-the-park home run, back-to-back home runs lift Indians to 3-2 win against TOR

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 19, 2016

With LeBron James in the house, anything is possible. And Friday night, he and the 30,000-plus Indians fans in attendance saw something they’ll likely never see again.

The Indians, trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, hit back-to-back home runs to beat the first-place Toronto Blue Jays 3-2, and it included one of the wildest endings possible to any baseball game.

With one out and Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna (2-2, 2.17 ERA) on the mound, Jose Ramirez slammed a solo home run to right field to tie it 2-2.

Tyler Naquin, who won Thursday’s game with a walk-off sacrifice fly, drove a ball off the right-field wall that got away from the Blue Jays’ outfielders. Center fielder Melvin Upton eventually fielded it but slipped before throwing it into the infield. Naquin made the turn at third and came home, sliding head-first for a walk-off inside-the-park home run. Many of the Indians’ players in the dugout ran with him and met Naquin at the plate in a crazed mob.

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Indians, Paul Dolan add John Sherman as minority investor, partner

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 19, 2016

The Indians on Friday announced that John Sherman, a Missouri-based entrepreneur, has been added as a minority investor and vice chairman.

Indians CEO and owner Paul Dolan has been seeking a minority partner for roughly the last year in part to help with the financial burden of owning the team and potentially increase salaries. Per a report from last year, Dolan was shopping roughly 30 percent of the team.

It’s still unclear what Sherman paid for his stake or what his ownership percentage will be. It’s also unclear exactly what effect Sherman will have on future payrolls.

“I am pleased to conclude the process and am thrilled to be partnering with John Sherman,” Dolan said via a release. “John has an impressive business track record and shares the community oriented values that we believe in. I am eager to have John join our ownership group.”

Sherman, based in Kansas City, is credited with developing two successful businesses, LPG Services Group and Inergy L.P.

“It’s an exciting time to be joining the Indians organization and ownership group,” Sherman said via a release. “It’s a strong, storied franchise with a great deal of promise this year and beyond. I look forward to working closely with Paul and helping him further the organization and team in any way that I can.”

Hindsight

As Danny Salazar rehabbed from elbow inflammation, the Indians elected to have him throw a couple of bullpen sessions but decided he didn’t need a rehab appearance in the minors. Rather, he started Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox and lasted only one inning, walking three and allowing three innings.

When asked if it was fair to say Salazar did need a rehab outing after all, Francona said it was a fair question to ask.

“And maybe we should have,” Francona said. “I don’t think Danny wanted to and that didn’t sway it, but I think we thought with the two weeks down and his bullpen was really good, but it’s a fair point.”

Salazar then threw a couple of simulated innings in the bullpen. The Indians need Salazar to be lengthened out for his next start.

“Having a [34]-pitch inning and then coming back to start five days later, I don’t know if we were going to be in much better shape than we were yesterday,” Francona said. “So at least he has a certain number of pitches under his belt. I know the last 30 weren’t under game [conditions], or the last 40, but it was still up and down and he got to have some repetition.”

Revolving door

The Indians on Friday called up relief pitcher Shawn Armstrong and demoted Kyle Crockett to Triple-A Columbus.

Though, it’s not a demotion for Crockett based on his performance. The Indians were going to need to make a roster move on Saturday when Josh Tomlin returns from the family medical emergency list, and Crockett would have been unavailable to throw Friday night.

It’s possible that Armstrong will only be up for one day as bullpen protection and then be sent back down. Though one or both relievers would be recalled when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

“We’ve kind of talked to that group of Crockett and [Austin] Adams and those guys and tried to explain it as much as we can that, when you have a team that’s trying to win, there’s a segment of guys that have options that it can be revolving,” Francona said. “And they’ve handled it really well.”

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Indians 5, White Sox 4: Ryan Lewis’ 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on Tyler Naquin, Danny Salazar, more

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 19, 2016

Here are 14 Walk-Off Thoughts on the Indians’ 5-4 walk-off win against the Chicago White Sox Thursday night.

1. This was one of the Indians’ more improbable wins of the season. It began with Danny Salazar, back from the disabled list, only lasting one inning and allowing three runs, putting both the offense and bullpen in a bind. And it ended with Tyler Naquin’s walk-off sacrifice fly, even though he didn’t start the at-bat.

2. Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Abraham Almonte doubled to open the inning. Roberto Perez then tried to bunt, but Jacob Turner’s first pitch hit off catcher Omar Narvaez’s glove and trickled away, allowing Almonte to advance to third. That meant Perez was no longer needed to bunt, so Indians manager Terry Francona called on Tyler Naquin to pinch-hit.

3. Naquin said he’s never been a part of a situation like that but responded, ripping a ball into center field easily deep enough to score Almonte and win the game. It was Naquin’s first walk-off plate appearance.

4. “Just always staying ready. Bottom line, being ready when your name is called,” Naquin said. “I want anybody to walk it off, but I was lucky enough to be able to do it myself. It's all about the opportunity to see the ball up and put a good swing on it.”

5. It was also Naquin’s first time receiving the minor beatdown that follows winning a game like that.

6. “It’s awesome. It's great,” Naquin said of the crowd charging at him. “But I know Nap's heading it, so it's a little scary.”

7. Said Francona, “That’s a heck of a way to start off the ninth inning [by Almonte]. It kind of changes things. Roberto’s going to bunt and then they throw the wild pitch and Tyler Naquin’s been sitting over there by the batting rack for a couple of days ready to hit. And that’s not the easiest thing to do, but we didn’t have to go find him. He was ready, and it showed.”

More: Josh Tomlin expected to return Saturday after tending to family matter

8. It was the Indians’ sixth walk-off win this season. And another good part of it was that Fox Sport’s Andre Knott received the Gatorade shower while interviewing Naquin after the game. Perhaps it was payback after he took out Mustard with a shovel during Wednesday’s race.

9. For Salazar, it was a clear command issue Thursday night. He walked three of the first four batters he faced and then allowed a bases-clearing double off the wall to Justin Morneau. After 34 pitches, Francona had seen enough.

10. After Salazar left the game, he went to the bullpen and threw for several innings. The Indians needed him lengthened out. It certainly means his next start will be more of a question mark. Said Salazar, "I was wild. That’s it. I was feeling great, just couldn’t find my pitch map."



11. Said Francona, “I don’t think it was mechanical. I just think he was rusty. You could tell that right from the very beginning, he couldn’t really find the plate. That was probably almost our worst-case scenario, is throwing that many pitches in the first inning. I was really getting concerned because of things we talked about before the game. So what we did was we sent him out to the bullpen, almost looked like a spring training game, which is not really our goal. But we had to find a way to get him lengthened out. So he went out and threw three more up and downs. Just because we didn’t want the start to go to waste, but we’re trying to win the game, we’re trying to protect him. Fortunately for him it worked out.”

12. It meant the bullpen needed to piece together eight innings of relief. Mike Clevinger led the way, tossing four innings and giving up a run. He also stabilized the middle innings for the Indians and bridged the gap to Dan Otero and then Andrew Miller in the ninth.

13.Said Francona, “First of all, I thought Clev was outstanding. He gave up a couple hits and one was at the end there. He was really good. So that was good. Even when the night starts off bad, you kind of have something to hang you hat on because he really did a good job. And then OT comes in, brought him in because we knew they were going to bunt and can get ground balls, and he did, but one snuck through. But then we kind of kept fighting back.”

14. Clevinger has started to show some positive signs after a couple rough starts earlier in the year. He also will continue to be in a bullpen role, provided Josh Tomlin is able to return by Saturday. Said Clevinger, “It’s getting more comfortable any time I get out there, any time I get a chance to get out there. Just getting in sync with what my plan of attack is, staying within myself, it’s all kind of coming together.”

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