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Indians 3, Angels 1: Friday’s One Last Thing on another milestone for the starting rotation

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 28, 2015

The Indians scored three runs in the seventh inning to take down the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 Friday night.

Trevor Bauer threw eight innings, allowed one run and struck out seven to improve to 10-10 this season.

Friday’s One Last Thing: The Indians’ starting rotation now has four pitchers with at least 150 strikeouts this season, adding another line to their strong 2015 resume.

Bauer’s seven strikeouts put him at 152 for the season. He joined Corey Kluber (213 strikeouts), Carlos Carrasco (173) and Danny Salazar (162) above the 150-K plateau.

It’s the first time since 1901 the Indians have had four starters reach that mark.

More: Indians manager Terry Francona won't use the opt-out clause in his contract as leverage for another job.

It’s a consistency of K’s uncommon in baseball, even in today’s pitching-heavy world. Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar and Bauer are all in the top nine in the American League in strikeouts, and that’s in a league that includes Chris Sale, Chris Archer, David Price and Felix Hernandez.

“I’m kind of bringing up the rear,” Bauer said Friday night. “I have to look up to everybody else like, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll get there, too.’ No, it’s great, though. Obviously, you talk about a staff with really good stuff all around. We have four guys but the guy that steps in the fifth spot, whether it’s [Josh] Tomlin or Cody Anderson or some of the other guys we’ve had pitch, they’ve got pretty good stuff too and they don’t get talked about a whole lot. I think top-to-bottom our pitching has been really good. It’s fun to kind of compete with those guys. You have a good outing and then the next guy goes out there and tries to have a better outing. It breeds healthy competition.”

Kluber is the known ace. Carrasco and Salazar have taken steps forward (and some back) in the last 12 months. Bauer has been a hot-and-cold work in progress. Together, they’re missing bats at a very high rate.

The real positive sign in all of this: All four could be under team control through the 2020 season.

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Indians rally from quiet start to take down Los Angeles Angels 3-1

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 28, 2015

The Indians began a key three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels Friday night, one of the leading teams in the crowded American League Wild Card race.

Although it seemed to take the Indians’ offense most of the night to show up, it finally did to support starting pitcher Trevor Bauer in a 3-1 win at Progressive Field.

The Indians entered Friday night five games out of the second Wild Card spot still needing to jump half a dozen teams. The Angels, which entered the night only a half-game out of Texas for the final spot in the post season, represent one of biggest hurdles.

It was a quiet night until the seventh inning, when the Indians (61-66) got into the Angles’ bullpen, but they eventually did their part in gaining some ground.

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Indians' Terry Francona won’t use opt-out clause as leverage for another job if Shapiro leaves

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 28, 2015
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Terry Francona left ESPN’s studios to manage the Indians, in large part, due to his relationship with and confidence in General Manager Chris Antonetti and President Mark Shapiro.

With Fox Sports reporting recently that Shapiro is considering taking a similar role with the Toronto Blue Jays, that trio could be broken up. Francona on Friday confirmed to MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that he does have an opt-out clause in his contract that he could exercise if Shapiro or Antonetti were to leave.

Speaking with local media later, Francona said he wouldn’t use that to his advantage as leverage for another job if something were to happen, as that wasn’t the intent of the clause.

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Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall lead Indians to 6-2 win against Milwaukee Brewers

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 26, 2015

Indians manager Terry Francona had said the Indians would like to see more of a balanced offensive approach. He got a resemblance of it Wednesday night in a 6-2 win against the Milwaukee Brewers at Progressive Field.

The top third of the lineup, which powered the Indians to an 11-6 win Tuesday night, produced again and got some additional help.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning, the bottom third of the order—Abraham Almonte, Jerry Sands and Jose Ramirez—went single, walk, walk to load the bases with two outs against Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson (10-10). Jason Kipnis, at the top of the order, then made it count, ripping a double down the left-field line that thanks to an error by Brewers left fielder Khris Davis allowed the bases to clear, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.

Lonnie Chisenhall doubled to left field in the third inning, moved over on a ground-out off the bat of Yan Gomes and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-1. An inning later, Francisco Lindor walked, stole second base (his third steal in the first four innings to give him six stolen bases this season) and scored on Chisenhall’s single up the middle.

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Indians 11, Brewers 6: Tuesday’s One Last Thing on the Indians’ top of the lineup

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 26, 2015

The Indians thrashed the Milwaukee Brewers 11-6 Tuesday night.

Michael Brantley hit two home runs and he, Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor all had three hits to support Josh Tomlin.

Tuesday’s One Last Thing: The Indians received a snapshot of what the top third of their order can do.

The Indians have had a litany of offensive issues this season. They’ve had more walks with the bases loaded than hits, which is a fairly crazy thought. Carlos Santana, in some respects, has been an underrated offensive performer but hasn’t come through in many key spots. Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes spent time on the disabled list.

Brandon Moss entered a severe slump before being dealt. Michael Bourn never turned it around much after a poor start—before also being dealt, along with Nick Swisher, who never got his season off the ground in Cleveland. Michael Brantley hasn’t had the MVP-Finalist type season that he had in 2014.

But Tuesday night, one of the real bright spots on the roster moving forward displayed what the Indians would like to see as often as possible.

More: Carlos Carrasco headed to disabled list, Cody Anderson to start Wednesday in his place

The top of the lineup, Kipnis-Lindor-Brantley, was lethal as a unit at least for a night. Those three totaled nine hits, drove in nine runs and scored seven. Kipnis hit the ball the other way with authority (his calling card), Lindor slapped a couple of hits and bunted when needed and Brantley drove them in. For three of the most important long-term pieces on the roster, that’s what it’s supposed to look like.

"It's fun,” Brantley said. “We swing the bats well, guys are getting on base at the top of the lineup, creating havoc. It’s just fun to be a part of. … It's just creating more opportunities to score runs. Obviously, the more runs you score, the better chance you're going to have to win the baseball game. The two guys in front of me are doing a great job, so is the bottom of the order, getting on base for them as well. Hitting is contagious. Hopefully we'll just keep swing the bats well. Hopefully it keeps trickling down the order.”

Of course, Indians manager Terry Francona was encouraged with the top of the lineup’s production.

“Kip came back. You saw it tonight,” Francona said. “When he’s hitting that ball to left field with authority, he’s a different hitter. He gets so dangerous. And Lindor just looks like he’s gaining confidence by the day. We gotta get him to realize he’s not invisible out there on the bases, but he’s swinging the bat really well. And then Brantley is just Brantley. That was impressive.”

The next step for the Indians is, like Brantley said, get that to trickle down to the rest of the lineup. That means Santana and Gomes. It means getting contributions from guys like Chris Johnson, Lonnie Chisenhall, Giovanny Urshela and others.

“To be a good team, you can’t give teams innings off, so we’re going to need balance all the way,” Francona said. “I think on nights, like tonight, the top of the order can carry you, but over the course of the season you’re gonna have to get contributions all over the place.”

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Carlos Carrasco heading to disabled list, Cody Anderson to take his spot in rotation

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 26, 2015

Prior to the Indians' game Tuesday night against Milwaukee, it was reported that Cody Anderson would be coming off the disabled list for Wednesday's start and Carlos Carrasco could possibly be facing his own stint on the DL.

After Tuesday's game, an 11-6 Indians win, Indians manager Terry Francona confirmed that Carrasco will be heading to the disabled list. This means that when Anderson is activated on Wednesday, he and Carrasco will simply be swapping spots on the roster instead of having a start pushed back and someone else—likely Jerry Sands or Jose Ramirez—being optioned down to Triple-A.

 

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Indians, Michael Brantley get offensive in 11-6 win against Milwaukee Brewers

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 25, 2015

The Indians’ offense poured it on the Milwaukee Brewers with an 11-6 win Tuesday night at Progressive Field.

The Indians (59-66) scored twice in the first, second and fourth innings and then added three more in the fifth for good measure, as starting pitcher Josh Tomlin received plenty of run support in his third start back from the disabled list.

Jason Kipnis led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and later scored on a Carlos Santana double to right field, tying the game 1-1 after Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a rocket of a solo home run off Tomlin in the top half of the first. Lonnie Chisenhall followed a few pitches later with a single up the middle to give the Indians’ a 2-1 lead.

The Brewers (53-73) added a second home run in the second inning, this one by Domingo Santana, again tying it.

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Indians' Cody Anderson to come off DL, Carlos Carrasco dealing with sore shoulder

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 25, 2015

The Indians are about to see some shifting in their starting rotation, as Cody Anderson is slated to come off the disabled list Wednesday and start in place of Carlos Carrasco, who is battling shoulder soreness.

Anderson has been on the disabled list since Aug. 8 with a left oblique strain. He said he felt the oblique tweak during a particular pitch in his last start, a 10-9 loss to Minnesota on Aug. 7.

Even prior to that pitch, Anderson had been trending downward this season. He was superb in his first four starts in the big leagues, combining to throw 30 1/3 innings and allowing only three earned runs. In the process, he became the first pitcher in baseball’s modern era to throw at least 6 2/3 innings and allow no more than one earned run in each of his first four starts.

But in his last four starts were disastrous, allowing 20 earned runs in 17 1/3 innings pitched. Anderson will likely end up somewhere in the middle of those extremes. The Indians will start to find out where on that spectrum on Wednesday.
“Everything is good. No set-backs,” Anderson said. “Threw a bullpen [session] Friday and then [Monday] in Lake County, I threw a bullpen. Everything’s feeling good. Ready to get back out there.”

Carrasco, meanwhile, could be heading to the disabled list. Carrasco felt a little sorer than normal following his Aug. 21 start against New York and underwent an MRI on Tuesday. Indians manager Terry Francona said it looks as though Carrasco is dealing with bursitis (a type of inflammation) in his shoulder.

Per Francona, the MRI came out clean, a good sign that this won’t be something that lingers. The team will look at Carrasco again Tuesday night and make a determination of how to move forward after that. Carrasco could either be placed on the disabled list or simply have his next start pushed back a few days.

“He felt it a little bit more this time,” Francona said of Carrasco after his last outing. “And he was really good about communicating with us. … I was glad they did the MRI. Sometimes when you give MRIs to pitchers, you have to be careful because everybody that’s thrown a baseball can have something wrong in there. But his was very clean. We were thrilled.”

Anderson and Carrasco could potentially switch places on the disabled list on Wednesday. If Carrasco only has his start pushed back, the Indians will have to make a corresponding move, likely optioning Jerry Sands or Jose Ramirez down to Triple-A.

Carrasco this season is 12-9 with a 3.53 ERA, 2.79 FIP and 173 strikeouts in 158 innings pitched. His FIP and K/9 rate are both fifth in the American League.

Spiderman

Chris Johnson continues to rehab after being placed on the disabled list Aug. 18 with a swollen and infected hand that is believed to be the result of a spider bite while the Indians were in Minnesota.

Francona said Tuesday that the team still can’t be 100-percent sure that a spider was the culprit. Either way, Johnson can’t return until the end of the month.

“CJ hit off the tee today,” Francona said. “He’s doing much better.”

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Yankees 8, Indians 6: Thursday’s One Last Thing on one word of frustration from Trevor Bauer

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 13, 2015

The Indians lost to the New York Yankees 8-6 Thursday night, snapping a four-game winning streak.

Trevor Bauer was hit hard, allowing six runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Thursday’s One Last Thing: Trevor Bauer’s frustrations have been pounded into one simple word, and he’s tired of being asked about it.

Bauer allowed two more home runs Thursday night, a three-run shot in the first inning by Brian McCann and a solo homer in the second by Stephen Drew that put the Yankees up 4-0.

Bauer has now allowed a home run in 13 of his last 15 starts and multiple home runs in four of his last six. It's clearly a problem.

When asked if he could attribute those struggles to anything in particular, Bauer sat in silence for a couple moments and then only offered one word: “Nope."

More: Mike Aviles' twin daughters throw out ceremonial first pitch in special moment

Bauer was then asked if he was having issues with his location, as that’s what Indians manager Terry Francona had thought.

His response: “Like I said, I don’t know. So you can ask me, keep asking me about it, but that’s the answer. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out at some point but right now I don’t know, so it doesn’t make any sense to keep asking me about it.”

He then told the local media to write about the offense, saying, “I thought the team did a really good job today battling back. So write about that. Write about the guys that went out there and scored runs on a tough pitcher and were down really big early and battled, played well. Write about that. Don’t ask me about giving up home runs and personal stuff when it doesn’t matter. I gave up six, who cares how they scored? We lost.”

Francona said he sees Bauer as going through a learning process. In a way, it’s knowing where to “miss,” if it’s going to happen.

“Yeah, he’s given up a lot,” Francona said. “I think the one thing that stands out is when he doesn’t execute his pitches he has been leaving it in the wrong place. A lot of times, pitchers have to know there is a place to bail out. If you miss, can it be a single? And with Trevor that is an ongoing process with him. I don’t think we’re all the way there but there’s improvement.”

Thirteen of his last 15 starts—that's tough to ignore.

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Indians, Trevor Bauer hit hard in 8-6 loss to New York Yankees

By Ryan Lewis Published: August 13, 2015

Trevor Bauer’s home run issues continued and The Bronx Bombers certainly lived up to their name early on, as the Indians were thumped by the New York Yankees 8-6 on Thursday night at Progressive Field.

The Indians were facing a multi-run deficit only five batters into the game. Yankees centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury singled, left fielder Brett Gardner walked and after a few pop-ups, catcher Brian McCann made them count with a three-run home run to right field.

The second inning brought another home run, this one from Stephen Drew, to push the Yankees’ lead to 4-0. This outing, which required three trips from pitching coach Mickey Callaway in the first four innings, came after Bauer (9-9) quietly allowed three home runs in the Indians’ 17-4 win against the Minnesota Twins. He’s also now allowed at least one home run in 13 of his last 15 starts and multiple home runs in four of his last six starts.

The Indians (53-60) got a few of those runs back in the bottom of the third inning against Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (12-2). Giovanny Urshela walked, Jose Ramirez singled and Francisco Lindor got a sacrifice bunt down to put two runners in scoring position. Michael Brantley drove in one with a sacrifice fly to center field and Carlos Santana brought the other home with an RBI-single to right field, making it 4-2.

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