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Series preview for four-game set between Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 28, 2015

The Indians begin a seven-game road trip with a four-game set against the Seattle Mariners Thursday night. If you’re planning on pushing back the alarm clock and staying up for the games, here are some things to note.

The games Thursday, Friday and Saturday all begin at 10:10 p.m. Sunday’s game is at 4:10.

The Mariners enter the series 23-23 and in second place the American League West, behind only the scorching hot Houston Astros (30-18). The Indians drew a bit of good luck with the pitching matchups in that they’ll face every Mariners starting pitcher not named Felix Hernandez—“King Felix” threw a four-hit shutout to beat Tampa Bay 3-0 Wednesday night.

Both teams enter the series 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Corey Kluber (2-5, 3.49) takes the mound tonight against lefty James Paxton (3-2, 3.52). Friday night will feature a couple of under-25 pitches, as Trevor Bauer (4-1, 3.02) takes on Taijuan Walker (1-5, 7.33). Walker was almost unhittable in spring training but hasn’t translated that to the regular season. On Saturday, Shaun Marcum (1-0, 6.28) will get a chance to stabilize his position in the rotation against another left-hander, Roenis Elias (2-1, 2.56). And on Sunday, Danny Salazar (5-1, 3.50) will square off with a third left hander, J.A. Happ.

The Indians will go from facing one of the hottest hitters on the planet (Texas’ Prince Fielder) to another (Seattle’s Nelson Cruz). Cruz leads the American League with 18 home runs, is tied for the lead in RBI with 38 and is fourth in batting average at .341. If the MVP voting were to stop today, Cruz could be your winner.

Indians manager Terry Francona spent three days explaining how difficult it is to pitch to a guy as hot as Fielder was—it’ll be much of the same with Cruz.

The Mariners do have other dangerous hitters besides Cruz, you just wouldn’t know it looking at their leaderboards. One is second baseman Robinson Cano, the $240-million man who hasn’t had the 2015 he had hoped for to this point, as he’s hitting only .215 with one home run. The other is third baseman Kyle Seager, hitting .275 with nine home runs and 29 RBI.

The Indians will dodge one bullet with Hernandez (if the Cy Young voting were today, he’s your guy, as he leads the AL in wins with eight and is second in ERA at 1.91). How well they dodge Cruz might be the biggest key to the series.

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Indians 12, Rangers 3: Wednesday's One Last Thing on Michael Bourn's hot streak

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 28, 2015

The Indians put together an eight-run inning and received a strong outing from Carlos Carrasco to cruise past the Texas Rangers 12-3 Wednesday at Progressive Field.

Carlos Santana, Nick Swisher and Lonnie Chisenhall all hit a home run. Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis and Michael Bourn all had three hits. Every Indians starter recored a hit and scored a run.

And starter Carlos Carrasco allowed one run in eight innings while striking out eight.

Wednesday’s One Last Thing: Michael Bourn is quietly heating up outside of the leadoff spot.

A while back, it was written that Bourn wasn’t getting hits but he was hitting the ball hard. Several analytic numbers pointed to the fact that Bourn was still making hard contact, it just wasn’t translating into him getting on base as much as it should.

Now, the hits are coming.

Bourn went 3-for-5 with two RBI Wednesday. He was hitting .180 before being moved down the lineup and is now hitting .300 since Indians manager Terry Francona made the change. Bourn is also hitting .360 in his past 16 games.

“Wherever Tito lines the lineup at, man, I just play,” Bourn said. “You don't make the lineup. You just go out there and play. So, whatever combination he thinks works for us, then I'm going to go out there and play baseball.”

MORE: Indians players, coaches shave their heads for Mike Aviles' daughter, who has leukemia

Of course, the switch has also coincided with Kipnis’ torrid May, so both hitters have taken off since that point in late April in Detroit.

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Eight-run third inning gives Indians 12-3 rout of Texas Rangers Wednesday

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 27, 2015

The Indians batted around and then some in the third inning and used it to cruise to a 12-3 win against the Texas Rangers Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.

The Indians had seven hits, including two doubles and a three-run home run by Carlos Santana, in that third inning to take a 10-0 lead off of Rangers starter Colby Lewis (4-3).

In the second inning, Nick Swisher hit his second home run of the season and first at Progressive Field. Lonnie Chisenhall added a home run of his own in the fifth inning.

All nine Indians starters recorded a hit and scored a run Wednesday. Santana and Chisenhall each ended the day with a home run and three RBI.

Pitching with a double-digit lead for most of the day, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (6-4) threw eight innings, allowed one earned run and struck out eight.

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Indians players, coaches shave their heads for Mike Aviles’ daughter Adriana, who has leukemia

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 27, 2015
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Over the last couple of days, more and more players and coaches have been walking around the Indians’ clubhouse with a shaved head. It started with Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher and a few others. Now, everyone has joined in.

It’s for Mike Aviles’ 4-year-old daughter, Adriana, who was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month. Aviles was away from the team for a week and a half as he spent time with his family after learning the news.

Adriana will be starting chemo-therapy soon, which means she’ll be losing her hair. To show their support, Aviles’ teammates are cutting it all away. .

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Rangers 4, Indians 3: Tuesday's One Last Thing on shaved heads for Mike Aviles' daughter

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 27, 2015

The Indians gave up two big home runs and couldn’t take advantage of their own opportunities in a 4-3 loss to the Texas Rangers Tuesday night.

Prince Fielder hit a 441-foot, three-run home run off of Danny Salazar in the fifth to tie it 3-3. Mitch Moreland than hit a solo home run in the eighth off of Nick Hagadone for the go-ahead run.

But tonight, it’s not all about baseball.

Tuesday’s One Last Thing: The Indians have banded together for a 4-year-old girl with leukemia.

Over the last couple days, more and more players have been walking around the Indians’ clubhouse with a shaved head. It started with Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher. Then it was Jose Ramirez. Now several guys, probably close to the entire team, have a shaved head or at least a low buzzcut.

The reason for it was known and pretty obvious, but players hadn’t yet wanted to speak about it and reporters were respectful of that, not pushing it.

MORE: Indians manager Terry Francona offers a solution for substances used on baseballs

Tuesday night, Kipnis became the first to speak on it and confirmed that it was for Mike Aviles’ 4-year-old daughter Adriana, who was diagnosed with leukemia recently. Aviles missed a week and a half as he spent time with his family after learning the news.

Adrianna will be starting chemo soon, which means she’ll be losing her hair. To show their support, Aviles’ teammates are doing the same.

“Yeah, kind of a team thing,” Kipnis said. “It started kind of with Mike Aviles’ daughter, for her, what she's going through. She’s going to, unfortunately, be losing her hair soon here to chemo and so we all kind of wanted to join in and it started with a couple and then spread throughout the whole clubhouse. … It wasn’t all in one day, just periodically, more guys were getting in on it and going through that.”

Aviles has chosen not to speak with reporters about it. But to his teammates, having him back in the clubhouse has been a positive influence.

“Having Mikey back, he’s one of the best clubhouse guys there is probably in this entire league,” Kipnis said. “He’s a great person, a great teammate and I think all the other guys have done a good job of stepping up to kind of make him feel welcomed and back at home and like nothing’s changed. And I think there’s been numerous guys that have told him that if he needs anything at any time that they’re there for him. So I think this is a good distraction for him when it can be, baseball.”

Aviles has played well and is hitting 7-of-19 since returning.

“Yea and on top of that, you gotta tip the cap to the guy to still be able to come to the field and produce and be playing well because he’s definitely been contributing.”

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Indians can’t hold lead after delay, fall to Texas Rangers 4-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 26, 2015

The Indians grabbed an early lead but two big swings made it moot in a 4-3 loss to the Texas Rangers Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
In a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth, Indians reliever Nick Hagadone was taken deep for a

solo home run by Rangers (23-23) first baseman Mitch Moreland, giving the Rangers a 4-3 lead.

Hagadone (0-1) came on for Danny Salazar, who threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and striking out six. Hagadone had retired all five batters he faced until the Moreland home run.

In the ninth, Jason Kipnis reached on an error and Carlos Santana was hit by a pitch with two outs, but Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson got Michael Brantley to ground out end the game and record his fifth save of the season.

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Indians manager Terry Francona offers solution for substances used on baseballs

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 26, 2015

A couple of pitchers around baseball were recently suspended using illegal substances while pitching to doctor the ball, and it has brought a long-debated topic back into the forefront.

Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Will Smith and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz were each suspended eight games in the past week for having a substance on their non-throwing arm and applying it to the baseball. Last season, New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended 10 games for having a substance on his neck. And the list goes on.

There are a number of things pitchers can try to have on their arm, neck or wherever they can glob something in order to be able to swipe at it with their throwing hand before gripping the ball. In Smith’s case, it was rosin and sunscreen. In Pineda’s, it was pine tar.
Indians manager Terry Francona sees that there is a line that can be crossed, and it has to be considered cheating. When asked Tuesday about the issue, though, Francona made the point that many times pitchers are trying to find a better grip because they can’t feel the ball as well, especially when it’s cold. It’s not as much finding an advantage as it is a pitcher trying to not allow a 95-mph fastball go to an unknown location.

“Obviously you want to respect the game of baseball, but you want every pitcher—especially when it’s cold—to be able to feel the ball, because when they don’t, it starts going places it’s not supposed to and that’s dangerous,” Francona said. “I get it, if somebody’s out there trying to get the ball to drop six inches, to me that’s cheating. I know by the letter of the law that putting something somewhere is cheating, but when you’re trying to grip the ball, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

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Rangers 10, Indians 8: Monday's One Last Thing on 20-foot ground balls

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 26, 2015

The Indians, in many senses of the word, threw away their game Monday against the Texas Rangers in a 10-8 loss.

Shaun Marcum was hit hard for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched. The Indians’ offense erased that, taking an 8-7 lead.

But in the seventh, Marc Rzepczynski allowed a score-tying single to Prince Fielder after allowing Delino DeShields to advance to second on a throwing error.

Zach McAllister then turned a would-be inning-ending play into a disaster. Josh Hamilton tapped a ground ball back to McAllister, who then sailed the ball over Carlos Santana’s head, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Monday’s One Last Thing: Sometimes, baseball comes down to a 20-foot ground ball.

Monday was really quite the great Baseball. Fourteen runs in the first three innings, four lead changes, five home runs, including Santana’s which bombed 455 feet.

MORE: Indians manager Terry Francona shares his thoughts on Memorial Day, heroes

But after all that, it was not being able to field a tapper back to the pitcher that cost the Indians would have been their seventh win in a row.

“After it was all said and done, it came down to a ball that was hit probably 20 feet,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And we talk about that a lot. You execute a really good pitch on a really dangerous hitter, you gotta get an out. Zach’s kind of a long-levered guy. Making that short throw, he really has to move his feet, probably more than the average guy just because he’s got long arms and legs.”

MORE: Indians manager Terry Francona gets no respect in his own apartment building

Even though it’s an easy play, that throw is often difficult for pitchers to make in the moment. A pitcher has to transition from slinging 95-mph fastballs into the zone out of the wind-up to softly tossing a ball 30 feet to first base. When you’re rushing, and when it's a key moment like in that seventh inning, it’s a play that should be easy but isn’t.

Still, as McAllister said, it has to be made.

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Pitching, defense fail Indians offense in 10-8 loss to Texas Rangers

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 25, 2015

The offense afforded Indians pitchers plenty of room for error Monday, but it wasn't enough in a 10-8 loss to the Texas Rangers.

Both starters couldn’t get through three innings, as each offense got to work early. After the third, there had been four combined home runs and the score was tied 7-7.

The Indians led 8-7 entering the top of the seventh inning. Indians reliever Bryan Shaw allowed a single to Delino DeShields. Left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski (1-2) allowed DeShields to advance on a throwing error and then gave up the score-tying single to Prince Fielder.

Zach McAllister came in to face Adrian Beltre and allowed a single. Josh Hamilton followed with a slow ground ball back to McAllister for what looked to be an easy third out. Instead, McAllister sailed the throw over Carlos Santana’s head, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus opened the eighth inning with a home run to left off of McAllister to give the Rangers a 10-8 lead.

Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers was credited with the win and is now 1-0 this season.

Indians starting pitcher Shaun Marcum allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched, including three in the top of the first and back-to-back home runs by Fielder and Beltre.

Santana homered off of Rangers starter Phil Klein in the bottom of the first inning, a shot that was estimated to travel 455 feet, to make it 3-1.

In the second inning, Roberto Perez put the Indians on top 4-3 with a three-run home run to right field. Jason Kipnis made it 5-3 with an RBI double. The Rangers (22-23) re-took the lead in the third with a four-run inning, capped by Andrus’ two-RBI double.

With the score tied 7-7, Michael Brantley put the Indians on top with an RBI double just inside
the right-field line to score Santana all the way from first.

The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Indians (20-24).

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Indians manager Terry Francona shares his thoughts on Memorial Day, heroes

By Ryan Lewis Published: May 25, 2015

Indians manager Terry Francona shared his thoughts on Memorial Day, what it means to him and what it means to be a hero on Monday.

Francona’s son, Nick, who became the Los Angeles Angels’ coordinator of major league player information last year, is a former Marine commander. Francona was honest in that Nick’s involvement with the military altered the way he viewed certain things, like the time he put aside to reflect on Memorial Day or where his thoughts are during the National Anthem.

“For right or wrong, my feelings probably changed when my son went into the Marines,” Francona said. “Probably started to be a little more respectful of days like this that I probably should have been all along. During the National Anthem I probably think more about things that maybe I should have had a long time ago that I didn’t.

“Back in generations before me, you didn’t sign up. You had to go. And now, that’s not the case. People volunteer. I think that is what’s kind of neat. They refer to people as heroes. But what they are, are regular people who choose to do something that helps us live our life how we want to. I guess that’s what makes a hero. And it’s pretty cool. Unfortunately, along the way people lose their lives and they have injuries that hurt their way of life. It’s difficult to understand but hopefully it’s not just today that we remember what some good people are trying to do.”

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