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Corey Kluber takes no-hit bid into seventh as Indians cruise past Minnesota Twins 8-1

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 9, 2015

Corey Kluber took yet another bid for a no-hitter deep into a game and the Indians’ offense again fired on all cylinders in an 8-1 win against the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon.

Kluber (7-12) was as strong as he’s been all season, throwing a complete game and allowing one run on three hits to go with 10 strikeouts. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when Joe Mauer ended the bid with a single to left field with two outs.

The Indians’ offense beat up Twins (55-56) starter Phil Hughes (10-8). Carlos Santana gave the Indians a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a double off the wall in right field that missed being a home run by a few feet. In the second, Jose Ramirez brought two more home with a bloop single down the left field line after Jerry Sands had singled and Chris Johnson, making his first start with the Indians, had doubled.

In the third inning, the Indians turned a three-run lead into a rout. Francisco Lindor walked and Michael Brantley doubled to start the inning. Santana made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly to left field and Yan Gomes’ double to left field pushed it to 5-0. On the next pitch, Abraham Almonte hit his second home run in as many days, a two-run shot to center field.

Almonte became the first Indians player to hit a home run in his first two games with the team since Kevin Kouzmanoff did it on Sept. 2-3 of 2006.

The Indians (51-59) have now scored 34 runs in their past three games.

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Indians 17, Twins 4: Saturday’s One Last Thing on Abraham Almonte’s four-hit debut

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 9, 2015

The Indians crushed the Minnesota Twins 17-4 Saturday night.

The 17 runs were a season high, and the most runs scored by the Indians since a 17-7 win against Texas on June 9, 2014. It’s also the most runs they’ve scored at Progressive Field since beating the New York Yankees 19-1 on July 4, 2006.

Saturday’s One Last Thing: Expectations weren’t particularly high, but Abraham Almonte certainly announced his arrival in Cleveland.

When Almonte was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski, it wasn’t exactly a blockbuster deal. Almonte had some major-league experience but had never stuck for long. But, he was a pretty good fielder and athlete and perhaps could develop into a serviceable hitter. He’d been an OK prospect who hadn’t yet put it together.

More: Ryan Lewis: Indians' trade of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn shows they weren't content with waiting

The Indians had said they were looking to give younger players some playing time in the final two months of this season. The deals at the July 31 deadline brought Abraham to Cleveland, and the Michael Bourn/Nick Swisher trade on Friday gave him the opening he needed.

One game doesn’t change his outlook, but he certainly looked good in his Indians debut.

More: Newly acquired Chris Johnson could play three positions

Almonte ripped the first pitch he saw in Cleveland for a double to center field. He later added another double and a single. In the eighth, he capped his night with a two-run home run to the bullpen area to finish 4-for-5.

Per STATS, he became the first Indians player since at least 1914 to have four hits, three of them for extra-base hits, in his team debut.

“That was great,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And I know one game doesn’t define somebody’s career. But at the same time we’re looking for reasons to be excited about guys and encouraged. If you can’t be encouraged watching that … he’s got really good hitter’s hands. And shoot, man, we’re looking to have guys help us. That was exciting.”

Almonte also did it in the middle of a fast-paced 24 hours. Friday night, he got word that he was being called up and Tyler Holt was being optioned down. He arrived in Cleveland and less than 24 hours later put together one of the best team debuts in franchise history.

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Indians crush Minnesota Twins 17-4

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 8, 2015

The Indians’ offense had another great night, only this time they made it count for something in a 17-4 thrashing of the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field Saturday night.

On Friday night, the Indians scored nine runs but it was all for nothing in a 10-9 loss. Saturday’s outburst told a different story.

The Indians scored eight runs in the first three innings and then highlighted it with a grand slam in the fifth, as a lineup with some new faces put together one of its best offensive nights of the season.

Nearly every hitter in the lineup had a productive night, led by Jose Ramirez (3-for-5, three RBI, two runs), Francisco Lindor (2-for-3, two RBI), Michael Brantley (3-for-4, one RBI), Jerry Sands (1-for-2, four RBI) and Abraham Almonte (4-for-5, two RBI, three runs), who was making his Indians debut after being acquired before the July 31 deadline from the San Diego Padres in exchange for relief pitcher Marc Rzepczynski. Almonte was called up Saturday to replace Tyler Holt and was quickly inserted into the lineup. He made the most of it, trying his career high with four hits, three of them for extra bases.

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Newly acquired Chris Johnson could see time at three positions for Indians

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 8, 2015

The Indians acquired infielder Chris Johnson from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and a reported $15 million in cash on Friday.

Now the question is how he’ll fit into the Indians’ every-day plans.

Johnson, 30, has primarily played third base in his career but has experience at first base as well. The Indians currently have Giovanny Urshela playing every day at third and Carlos Santana entrenched at first, so they might have to get creative to find enough at-bats for all three.

Aside from a time-share at those two spots, Johnson and the Indians both brought up the possibility of his moving to the outfield at times.

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Indians place Cody Anderson on 15-day DL; Tyler Holt optioned to AAA; Almonte, Armstrong up

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 8, 2015

The Indians on Saturday made a series of moves, highlighted by the placement of No. 5 starter Cody Anderson on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.

Anderson said he felt something pull on his left side during a pitch in Friday’s 10-9 loss to Minnesota.

“Just reached back to get a little extra on a fastball and kind of felt a little tweak in my side,” Anderson said. “It was just one pitch [Friday]. … It’s frustrating. At the same time, it’d be good too, to be able to work on stuff, I guess, hopefully get back out there as soon as possible and keep working.”

Anderson was terrific in his first four starts, combining to throw 30 1/3 innings and allowing only three earned runs. In part due to command issues with his fastball, Anderson had struggled in his last four starts, allowing 20 earned runs in 17 1/2 innings pitched. He’s now headed to the disabled list, and the Indians haven’t yet set a time-table for his return.

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Twins 10, Indians 9: Friday’s One Last Thing on the Indians waiting to see the real Cody Anderson

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 7, 2015

The Indians rallied from a six-run deficit but ultimately lost a 10-9 slugfest to the Minnesota Twins at Progressive Field Friday night.

The loss came hours after the Indians pulled off a major salary-shredding deal, sending Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and a reported $10 million to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for infielder Chris Johnson.

Cody Anderson was roughed up again, allowing six earned runs in only 2 2/3 innings pitched.

Friday’s One Last Thing: In the good and in the bad, it’s unlikely the Indians have yet to see the real Cody Anderson.

Anderson was nothing short of dominant in his first four career starts this season. He lasted at least 6 2/3 innings and allowed no more than one run in each start, becoming the first pitcher in baseball’s modern era to do that.

His last four starts since that stretch have been a polar opposite. He hasn’t gotten out of the third inning in two of them and in all four, he’s allowed at least three runs.

Anderson’s first four starts: 30 1/3 innings, three earned runs.
Anderson’s last four starts: 17 2/3 innings, 20 earned runs.

That’s an ERA difference of 0.89 to 10.19.

Anderson can't be as good as his first four outings, and he can't be as bad his last four.

The difference, and what will likely prove to be the deciding factor to where Anderson lands on this spectrum, has been his command. More specifically, it’s been his inability to keep his fastball down in the zone.

It’s gotten him into trouble more than once, and it cost him again Friday night.

“Just staying focused and keeping the ball down during games,” Anderson said when asked about the common theme. “You kind of tend to get in a rhythm and you tend to not notice the ball going up and you don't make the adjustment in time. I need to work on keeping the ball down and putting some emphasis on off-speed pitches and keeping us in the game.”

Indians manager Terry Francona has said he often doesn’t see a common theme between outings for pitchers. But for the most part, he agreed with that sentiment and added that Anderson’s breaking ball hasn’t always ended up where he’s meant it to, either.

“I think it was just inconsistent,” Francona said. “Couple balls that were up to the wrong guys, to the right-handed hitters. That’s what they do. He got the one base hit that cost him two runs that went right by Gio and Lindor, kind of a seeing-eye single that capped off the night for him. That hurt. Just a little bit inconsistent in what he’s doing, still working on the breaking ball to the right-handed hitters that needs to get off of guys that cover the plate. That’s still a work in progress.”

Baseball is a game of adjustments, and Anderson’s needed change seems to be right there in front of him.

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Indians can’t out-punch Minnesota Twins in 10-9 slugfest

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 7, 2015

The Indians battled back from a six-run deficit but ultimately couldn’t go punch-for-punch with the Minnesota Twins in a 10-9 loss at Progressive Field Friday night.

The Indians trailed 6-0 early and came back to lead 9-7, only to have it tied 9-9 entering the ninth inning.

Facing Bryan Shaw (1-2) with one out, Twins outfielder Torii Hunter clubbed a solo home run to right field, the decisive blow in a game teeming to the brim with big hits.

Indians (49-59) starter Cody Anderson, who had four terrific starts to begin his career followed by three poor outings, had another rough night. Anderson retired the first six batters he faced but had the wheels fall off in the third inning.

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See what Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn had to say after being traded by Indians (with video)

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 7, 2015

The Indians on Friday traded Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and cash to the Atlanta Braves in exchenge for infielder Chris Johnson.

Here are highlights of what both players had to say.


[Did you see this coming?]

"It kinda caught me off guard. I was getting myself ready to play tonight. My first day back. Was really excited. It's been a long road. Now I'm healthy again. It's really nice to be able to go out there and know that I can do what I need to do.

They said hey, we traded you to Atlanta. I said great. What else am I going to say?"

[How do you view this season?]

"It's been a rough year and a half for me. Just health-wise and the whole thing. Now that I've got that behind me, I'm just really looking forward to the future. I guess going down to Atlanta, helping that ballclub out the best I can."

[On his time in Cleveland]

"I think more than anything, I'd like to thank the fans for everything they've done. The ones that supported me through all this time. This was the place it all started for me. It didn't exactly go the way I wanted it to, but baseball is a game. There's always moves being made. For myself, for Atlanta. For as bad as they wanted us, man I'll go down there. You always want to go where you're wanted."

[On being dealt]

"You could kind of tell from the moves that were being made. You kinda knew what was happening. You always never think it's going to be you. Then I came in here today and got the news. Now I'm just excited, packing up all muy stuff."

[On going to Atlanta with Bourn]

"Me and Bourny are gonna pack up our stuff and bounce out of here tomorrow morning and help that team win a championship. He's the mayor down there, bro. I'm excited. I've got somebody to show me around."

[On his injuries]

"It's been a long road. Doc said you'd probably start feeling back to normal about a year in. Coming up on that year, I had about two weeks off. Tried to come back early this year because we weren't playing well and thought I could bring some energy and leadership in this locker room. But I wasn't able to do it on the field. That's the biggest thing. Now Im ready to do it on the field. It just won't be here."

[Was it a good decision to go back on the DL?]

"Had to. It was one of those things where I was hitting at Triple A. Hitting at a 400 clip early. But I wasn't able to go out there and run around and be myself and have a good time. It is a little frustrating. Nut on the other side. i'm looking at how excited I am for the next chapter in my life. great city, great fans, great organization. Cant wait to be part of that."


[On this being the business of baseball]

"Yea, man, I've been through it before. This is my second time doing this, so you know, second time going back to the same place, so I'm excited about it. Of course, things here didn't work out great. We didn't have a bad time. We played pretty good, but this year is not what we expected it to be."

[Were you disappointed in your performance?]

"I just continued to work. I know the first half didn't go like I wanted it to. I had spurts in the first half, but I like consistency as my big word in baseball pretty much. Of course, in the first half, I wasn't consistent. In the second half, I've been more consistent. I've been playing better. I like what I've done, just continue to do what I've been doing in the second half and go do it over there in the second half."

[Is there a comfort in returning to the National League?]

"I like that too. But I really enjoy playing in American League too. It's good competition. I like this competition. I feel like the American League Central is real good competition. Kansas City, Detroit, and teams like that. Things happen. Things happen for a reason. You can't control certain things in baseball. You've got to just continue to play and continue to go where you're going to go and have fun where you go."

[Was it frustrating to not build on 2013?]

"That's the most disappointing part about it. In 2014, we had a chance. We were in it for the most part until the last week. This year, we hadn't played over .500 baseball the whole year to me, so that's what happens in sports when it happens like that. You wish it didn't, but you see it happen all the time. They have some good pieces here in Brant and Kip, the pitching staff of course, they got young talent in Lindor and Urshela, so they're going to develop them. I think they're getting Chris Johnson back in the trade, so they'll still have pieces with what they already have. Good luck to them, unless they're playing against me."

[Was the deal a shock?]

"Yea, it surprised me. I had no clue. But I'm always ready in baseball, you know you never know what's going to happen. I've seen it happen before and I'll probably see it happen again, so with that being said, I just have it to take it one day at a time. I had a great time here from playing in the playoff game to just being in the race -- I love being in the race at that time because of the atmosphere, every day coming to the field is a joy. That's what I look forward to every day, especially in the last two months of the season, you hate playing games when you're out of it. This year, it's pretty much that. I just didn't think we were right out of it. We had a bad series against the White Sox, but you look at the standings, we were six or seven games out. I know we had a lot of teams to climb but we play a couple of those teams in the Yankees and Toronto, well they play Toronto now. They're looking in a different direction, we have to go in a different direction, and that's what I'm going to do."

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Indians trade Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and cash to Atlanta Braves for Chris Johnson

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 7, 2015

The Indians pulled off a major trade Friday afternoon that moved two of its more disappointing and highly-paid players off the books, agreeing to a deal that sent outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, centerfielder Michael Bourn and cash to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for infielder Chris Johnson.

The trade, which reportedly includes around $10 million going from the Indians to the Braves, was able to be completed because all three players cleared waivers. The July 31 trade deadline is for non-waiver deals.

And for the Indians, it will add financial and roster flexibility.

Swisher and Bourn were the two highest players on the roster, though both had underperformed since being signed prior to the 2013 season for a combined $104 million over four years.
Swisher and Bourn were set to make $15 million and $14 million, respectively, which would make up more than one-third of the team's total payroll. Both players also had vesting options for 2017, though they are unlikely to reach the needed requirements.

“As we tried to look forward at the best way to shape our team, we felt this move allows us to do that,” said Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti. “It gives us some roster flexibility. It gives us an opportunity to play some young players here in the second half and learn more about ourselves and, as importantly, it gives us a little more clarity heading into the offseason as we look to build a championship team moving forward. And we feel this move helps us along that path.”

Johnson, 30, has largely been a disappointment in Atlanta as well, hitting .235 this season with two home runs and 11 RBI. He missed most of May with a fractured left hand. Last year, he hit .263 with 10 home runs, 27 doubles and 58 RBI. Since a strong 2013 season in which he hit .321, he hasn’t lived up to his contract.

Johnson has primarily played at third base in his career and has some experience at first base. The Indians have yet to determine his exact role, though it could include some work in the outfield as well.

Johnson will make $7.5 million in 2016 and $9 million in 2017. There’s also a $10 million club option for 2018.

The Indians and Braves found a match as two franchises trying to line up payroll at different times. The Braves saw it acceptable to take on more payroll now to clear room for the 2017 season, when they stand a better chance of competing. The Indians, meanwhile, clear a greater amount of space off their books heading into next year.

Using prorated deals and the total money involved, the Indians will save around $9 million in total, though this will open up closer to $20 million in flexibility heading into next season.

Swisher in his two and a half years with Cleveland hit .228 with 32 home runs and 113 RBI in 272 games. Swisher had dual knee surgeries in August and has only appeared in 127 games since the beginning of last season, as he simply hasn’t been the same player and lately hasn’t even been able to stay on the field.

Bourn, over that same time, hit .257 with 97 RBI and 46 steals in 331 games. Prior to signing with the Indians, Bourn was averaging 51 steals per year in the previous five seasons. Like Swisher, Bourn was never the same player before coming to Cleveland, as he stole only 23 bases in 2013 and then was slowed by a hamstring injury in 2014.

In the short run, Tyler Holt will see more time in center field, though the Indians haven’t finalized any plans.

This deal marks the end of one of the Indians' most aggressive off-seasons, when they signed Bourn and Swisher to four-year deals worth a total of $104 million prior to the 2013 season.

“I think when we signed both guys, we were hopeful that they would help expedite our return to competitiveness,” Antonetti said. “And in the 2013 season, both guys were key contributors to us making the postseason. Unfortunately, since that time, things haven't played out maybe the way anyone would've hoped, and so that got us to today. At this point, we had to not necessarily dwell on the past, but figure out the path forward. We felt this move made sense for us and allows us that flexibility that would be helpful for us as we build our teams.”

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Cody Allen blows ninth-inning lead in 4-3 loss to Los Angeles Angels

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 5, 2015

The Indians took a two-run lead into the bottom of the ninth inning but closer Cody Allen couldn’t hold onto it in a 4-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels Wednesday.

And it all came cashing down on a wild pitch.

Leading 3-1 with three outs to go, Allen gave up two hits and two walks to blow his third save of the season and earn his fourth loss. With the bases loaded and two out, C.J. Cron singled home two runs to tie it 3-3. A few pitches later, an Allen curveball got away from catcher Roberto Perez, allowing Taylor Featherston to score the winning run from third.

Indians (49-58) starter Danny Salazar allowed one run on only three hits in six innings and struck out seven.

Angels (57-50) relief pitcher Cam Bedrosian, who allowed the game-winning hit Tuesday night, earn his first win on Wednesday.

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