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Indians fall to Minnesota Twins on walk-off home run 4-3

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 25, 2016

Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia crushed Zach McAllister’s fourth pitch of the ninth inning for a walk-off home run, and the Indians dropped their series-opening game 4-3 Monday night at Target Field.

The Indians (9-8) led 2-0 after Marlon Byrd’s RBI-single in the second and Jason Kipnis’ RBI-single in the fifth. In the bottom half of the fifth, things became unraveled for Indians starter Danny Salazar.

In that inning, the Indians had a couple close calls but couldn’t escape with the lead. With two outs, the Twins’ Danny Santana singled on a ball that Francisco Lindor couldn’t field cleanly and then was nearly picked-off by Salazar. The Indians challenged the ruling, but it was upheld. Salazar then balked trying to pick Santana off again. After two foul balls were nearly caught and Eduardo Nunez walked, Brian Dozier tied it with a two-RBI double.

The Indians called on Jeff Manship. Miguel Sano then fought off a pitch for a bloop single to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. Salazar finished with three earned runs on three hits and four walks and three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings pitched.

Aside from the ball he couldn’t field cleanly, Lindor made a trio of great plays at shortstop on Tuesday night, adding to his season highlight reel.

Yan Gomes later tied it with a solo home run to left-center field in the eighth inning, his third of the season.

Note: Walk-Off Thoughts will be written after every home game, every road game in which we can travel (all three series in Detroit, the remaining two series in Chicago and the one series in Cincinnati, with possibly 1-2 additional series added in) and the postseason.

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Indians place SP Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day DL, will be out 4-6 weeks; Michael Brantley activated

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 25, 2016
Carrasco

The Indians on Monday placed starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring and activated outfielder Michael Brantley from the 15-day disabled list.

Carrasco is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Even with Carrasco headed to the DL, considering what could have been, this was good news for the Indians.

Carrasco had to exit Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers in the third inning after he suddenly fell to the ground while covering first base on a ground ball. He immediately grabbed for his left hamstring and had to be helped off the field. He was later carried back into the Indians’ clubhouse and trainer’s room area by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

It was possible that Carrasco had torn his hamstring instead of simply straining it, which would have sidelined the Indians’ No. 2 starter and Cy Young contender for a much longer period of time. The Indians could only wait for the MRI results in Cleveland.

After Sunday’s game, Indians manager Terry Francona said, “The hope is that it’s not terrible. I think when you see a guy go down like that, it’s not just something that grabbed at him.”

Trevor Bauer, who pitched 3 1/3 innings in relief on Sunday, could slide into Carrasco’s spot in the rotation for the time being. Due to off days, the Indians might not need a fifth starter until May 7.

Brantley has been rehabbing from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder. He originally had a timetable of return for around early May. He appeared to be ahead of schedule all spring until he felt soreness after two spring training games and had to be shut down.

Brantley is a vital part of the Indians’ lineup. Last season, Brantley hit .310 with an on-base percentage of .379, 15 home runs, a league-leading 45 doubles and 84 RBI. In 2014, Brantley was an MVP finalist.

As it turns out, Brantley is activated ahead of the Indians’ three-game road series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, the same ballpark in which he hurt his shoulder last September.

Carrasco’s stint on the DL also means the Indians don’t have to make a tougher decision regarding the active 25-man roster. Tyler Naquin or Cody Anderson could have been optioned to Triple-A, or a relief pitcher could have been designated for assignment to make room for Brantley.

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Indians 6, Tigers 3: Ryan Lewis’ 26 Walk-Off Thoughts on Carlos Carrasco’s injury, Bryan Shaw’s ring

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

Here are 26 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-3 win against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday that completed a three-game road sweep.

1. The Indians might have lost a lot more on Sunday than they won, which includes the 6-3 win and the completion of a three-game sweep of the Tigers. Carlos Carrasco, a Cy Young contender and one of the Indians’ biggest assets, suddenly fell trying to cover first base on a ground ball in the third inning. He immediately grabbed for his left hamstring in obvious pain and had to be helped off the field.

2. Per Indians manager Terry Francona, Carrasco will be heading to the disabled list and will get an MRI in Cleveland. Said Francona, “The hope is that it’s not terrible. I think when you see a guy go down like that, it’s not just something that grabbed at him. We’ll just wait for the MRI. We should get the results in the afternoon tomorrow.”

3. Carrasco having to be helped off the field and then basically carried to the clubhouse by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan will trump the fact that they won a game on Sunday. If Carrasco is headed for an extended disabled-list trip—and the odds of that are likely high enough to make Francona sick—a great deal of pressure will be put on the other pitchers in the starting rotation, namely Cody Anderson and, perhaps, Trevor Bauer.

4. The Indians have a few prized bulls, and Carrasco is one of them. Francona used the word “deflating.” That’s a good adjective for how he sounded after the game.

5. The Indians, due to upcoming off-days, might not need a fifth starter until May 7, so they could potentially use a four-man rotation until then. Either way, this could open a door for Bauer, who is a natural candidate to slide into Carrasco’s spot in the rotation.

6. Bauer did well on Sunday to throw 3 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs, but he pitched well enough and long enough to not turn a sudden injury into a pitching disaster, which happened to an extent to the Tigers when starter Shane Greene had to suddenly leave in the fourth. It was a weird game.

More: Former Indians SS, current Tigers 1B coach Omar Vizquel on Francisco Lindor's 'tremendous ability'

7. Said Francona, “Carlos goes down, that’s deflating, but Trevor came in and really did a good job. It’s easy for us to say, ‘Hey, stay ready because you’re going to get an opportunity,’ but to his credit, he has really stayed ready. For him to be able to throw 64 pitches and really keep the game right in check is a tribute to him. He’s kept himself in shape and his arm, he didn’t lose anything the whole time he was in there.”

8. Added Bauer, “It was unexpected, with what happened. Cookie was cruising right along and it was very unfortunate with what went down. Hopefully he's OK. That's what was on my mind was, 'I hope he's OK.' I came up in the clubhouse to check on him after I got out of that inning. I think that's the biggest thing. The team played really well today and hopefully Carlos is OK.”

9. Michael Brantley will be traveling to Minnesota and could be activated this upcoming week. The Indians were facing a tough decision, but Carrasco heading to the DL opens up a spot on the active 25-man roster.

10. Francona said prior to the game that things tend to just work out, speaking on that tough decision. Then Carrasco went down. It’s not exactly what he meant.

11. Then there was the bizarre eighth inning that basically called into question if love is allowed in baseball. In a 6-3 game, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus twice came out of the dugout to argue, as he was upset that Shaw had a wedding band on his left (glove) hand. The argument, apparently, was that Shaw was scuffing the baseball with it.

12. It’s a rubber wedding band that Shaw says he’s worn for more than two years.

13. Said Shaw, “I feel like he made his point the first time and obviously the umpires checked my ring, which it's a rubber ring. If you can find a way to scuff the ball with a rubber ring, more power to you. I haven't, yet. I've had it on for the last two and a half years and nobody's said a word about it from any team. I've pitched against them with it on for the past two and a half years. So, obviously, like I said, they seem to be struggling a little bit, so I think he's just trying to find something to nitpick about to try to throw us off.”

More: The Aviles family fight against 'the sicky bugs' and Adriana's trust in her parents

14. And, he’ll keep wearing it. Said Shaw, “He came out the second time and was kind of like, 'He's doing whatever.' It's like, 'Look, I'll take it off to make you happy. Go back to the dugout so we can finish the game.' I told him to go back to the dugout. I'll take it off, we'll finish the game and I'll wear it the next time I pitch, just like I always have for the past couple years. I'm not going to change anything. Obviously, nobody else has said anything. It hasn't affected anything. Whatever.”



15. Francona wasn’t entirely pleased that Ausmus came out a second time demanding Shaw take it off after already voicing his argument with the umps.

16. Said Francona, “He has that wedding ring on his glove hand and I think they were saying that he was scuffing the ball, but his wedding ring is rubber. I understand it, I just thought after they OK’d it, I thought it was a bit much coming out, delaying the game. I didn’t think that was completely fair.”

17. It’s one of those times where a manager of a struggling team on the verge of being swept looked for a reason to throw off the opposing pitcher. The Indians didn’t seem to enjoy the gesture too much.

18. Also, if my lovely wife Alicia is reading this, I’d like to note that I, too, am wearing my wedding ring while typing this. I’ll be home in a few hours.

19. Shaw says the ring didn’t affect him at all, though he proceeded to record a strikeout and then walked two batters to load the bases and bring up the go-ahead run with two outs. That’s when the Indians went to Jeff Manship, and the Tigers went to Miguel Cabrera, who wasn’t in the starting lineup, as a pinch-hitter in what was the biggest at-bat of the game.

20. It ended up being more of a pro-wrestling scene than of baseball. Manship is running to the mound with Mike Aviles supposedly batting. Halfway through his jog, Cabrera comes out of the dugout with a helmet and bat, and Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotize—Cabrera’s Walk-Up song—began playing over the PA at precisely the time he emerged. The Detroit crowd erupted.

21. With the game on the line, Manship didn’t know he’d be facing Miggy until he heard Biggie.

22. Said Manship, “It’s a fun experience. Coming in, I didn’t know really who was up to bat until half-way in. I thought Aviles was still in the game and then I could heard Miguel’s song playing, the fans were going insane. So it was fun, definitely an enjoyable experience.”

23. Manship attacked Cabrera with sliders, working the count to 3-2. He finally got him to pop out to Carlos Santana in foul territory. Cody Allen then recorded his sixth save of the season in the ninth.

24. Last season Manship emerged as a reliable option in the back-end of the Indians’ bullpen along with Allen, Shaw and Zach McAllister. He’s also been one of the better success stories in that time. It’s possible he hasn’t recorded a bigger out for the Indians, as bases loaded in a three-run game with Cabrera at the plate should be enough to turn an Indians fan’s stomach.

25. “Absolutely not,” Manship said when asked if he could envision this scenario a year ago. “I definitely enjoyed it today.”

26. For the Indians to sweep the Tigers in Detroit is a big step for them. It hasn’t happened since 2008. The Indians still don’t have Brantley. The Tigers have tormented them for several seasons. And yet, the Indians will have to hold their breath until getting the results from Carrasco’s MRI before feeling good about anything.

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Indians beat Detroit Tigers 6-3 but lose SP Carlos Carrasco to hamstring injury; DL stint coming

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

The Indians pulled off the sweep and beat the Detroit Tigers 6-2 at Comerica Park on Sunday, but they were also delivered a blow that could affect the starting rotation for an extended period of time.

Starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, a key piece to the Indians’ hopes this season and a Cy Young Award contender, was covering first on a ground ball in the third inning when he suddenly fell to the ground in obvious pain.

Carrasco immediately began grabbing for his left hamstring and eventually had to be helped off the field. He was then carried back into the Indians’ clubhouse and trainer’s room area by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

He threw 2 2/3 innings, gave up one hit and struck out two before exiting the game. Per Indians manager Terry Francona, Carrasco will be placed on the disabled list with a left hamstring injury, but the severity won’t be known until Monday after an MRI in Cleveland.

“The hope is that it’s not terrible,” Francona said. “I think when you see a guy go down like that, it’s not just something that grabbed at him.”

Trevor Bauer quickly warmed up and entered the game. Should Carrasco miss time, it’s possible Bauer re-enters the starting rotation in his place. In relief on Sunday, Bauer allowed two runs on four hits and a walk and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings pitched to pick up the win.

“With a lot of things happening, we won,” Francona said. “Carlos goes down, that’s deflating, but Trevor came in and really did a good job. It’s easy for us to say, ‘Hey, stay ready because you’re going to get an opportunity,’ but to his credit, he has really stayed ready. For him to be able to throw 64 pitches and really keep the game right in check is a tribute to him.”

In the eighth, with the Indians leading 6-3, a bizarre scene. With Bryan Shaw on the mound, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus twice was upset that Shaw had a rubber wedding band on his left (glove) hand. After coming out of the dugout a second time, Shaw proved he had put the band in his back pocket. Shaw proceeded to record a strikeout for the second out but then walked two hitters to load the bases with two outs in a 6-3 game.

“He has that wedding ring on his glove hand and I think they were saying that he was scuffing the ball, but his wedding ring is rubber,” Francona said. “I understand it, I just thought after they OK’d it, I thought it was a bit much coming out, delaying the game. I didn’t think that was completely fair.”

That allowed Miguel Cabrera, out of the starting lineup on Sunday, to pinch-hit representing the go-ahead run. The Indians countered by bringing in Jeff Manship, who worked to a full count and then got Cabrera to pop out to first basemen Carlos Santana in foul territory to end the inning.

“It’s a fun experience,” Manship said. “Coming in, I didn’t know really who was up to bat until half-way in. I thought [Mike] Aviles was still in the game and then I could hear Miguel’s song playing, the fans were going insane. So it was fun, definitely an enjoyable experience.”

Cody Allen then earned his sixth save of the season in the ninth to secure the three-game road sweep.

Offensively, the Indians took advantage of the Tigers being in a similar position after starting pitcher Shane Greene had to suddenly leave the game in the fourth inning with an injury. Drew VerHagen took over, and the Indians put together back-to-back three-run innings.

In the fourth, Jose Ramirez doubled home a run and scored on Marlon Byrd’s RBI-single. Tyler Naquin later added an RBI-triple to make it 3-0.

In the fifth, Ramirez and Byrd each added an RBI-single and Juan Uribe followed suit to make it 6-2 after Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos drove in two runs with a single in the bottom of the fourth against Bauer.

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Carlos Carrasco exits Sunday’s game with apparent left leg injury

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

Indians starting pitcher exited Sunday’s game against the Detroit Tigers in the third inning with an apparent left leg injury.

With one out in the third inning, Carrasco was covering first on a ground ball to first baseman Carlos Santana when he fell to the ground. He immediately began grabbing at his left leg and was helped off the field. He was later helped back into the Indians’ clubhouse and trainers room area by pitching coach Mickey Callaway and head athletic trainer James Quinlan. Carrasco couldn’t put weight on the leg.

Trevor Bauer quickly warmed up and entered the game. Carrasco threw 2 2/3 innings, allowed no runs and one hit and struck out two.

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Indians 10, Tigers 1: Ryan Lewis’ 24 Walk-Off Thoughts on Francisco Lindor, Yan Gomes, Corey Kluber

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 24, 2016

Here are 24 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 10-1 win against the Detroit Tigers Saturday afternoon.

1. There are probably bigger storylines from Saturday’s win, like the Indians taking the first two games of the season against the Tigers or Corey Kluber actually getting run support, but Francisco Lindor is just way too much fun to watch.

2. Since Lindor really found a rhythm a couple of weeks after being called up last season, he’s been must-watch baseball. He’s just ridiculously good fielding his position.

3. In the fifth, Lindor made an out-stretched, diving stop and made the throw to take away a hit from Andrew Romine. Here’s a gif of the play courtesy of MLB.com.
 

Pitcher's best friend: https://t.co/5ZgyGhKyiw pic.twitter.com/5ap1C0hdN5

4. In the seventh, he topped it. Miguel Cabrera hit a rocket one-hopper right at him—Statcast had it at 107 mph. Lindor fielded it (mostly by just reacting), tumbled backward, got up, set his feet and threw out Cabrera from the hole.

5. “Are you freaking kidding me?” was uttered by a writer in the press box as it was happening. To react to a 107 mph liner is one thing. To play the hop is another. Again, thanks to MLB.com, here’s a gif.
 

Lindor is ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/DirHYXVwLX

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Indians throttle Detroit Tigers 10-1; Yan Gomes drives in five, Corey Kluber throws eight innings

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 23, 2016

In a scene that seemingly has only happened the other way around in recent years, the Indians went up to Detroit and pummeled the Tigers 10-1 on Saturday at Comerica Park.

It was as complete of a win as the Indians have had this season, and it happened in a place in which little success has been found under Indians manager Terry Francona.

The Indians (8-7) immediately jumped out to a lead. Jason Kipnis singled and Francisco Lindor walked with one out against Tigers (8-8) starter Anibal Sanchez (2-2). Yan Gomes and Jose Ramirez each followed with RBI singles. Ramirez then effectively forced a third run in the inning on an attempted steal that ended up with Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia throwing the ball into center field, scoring Gomes.

Gomes’ day was far from done. He just about put the game away in the third inning when, with two runners on after singles by Lindor and Mike Napoli, he belted a three-run home run to left field, making it 6-0. Lonnie Chisenhall later tripled and scored on Rajai Davis’ single. Davis was then caught stealing, but doubles back-to-back doubles by Tyler Naquin and Carlos Santana, in the leadoff spot again Saturday, pushed the Indians’ lead to 8-0.

“Yeah, I thought it was good on a number of fronts,” Francona said of Gomes and the offense. “He swung the bat really good. We had a 3-0 lead and all the sudden, on one pitch, we spread it out. He took a really good swing. I thought a lot of guys had good at-bats today. Nap, where he had kind of been struggling this series, runner on second and he shoots a ball to right, just playing the game right and getting rewarded for it.”

In the seventh, Gomes added an RBI-double, bringing him a double away from the cycle and his RBI total to five. Davis then added an RBI-double to cap the Indians’ scoring.

It was more than enough for Indians starter Corey Kluber (1-3), who entered the game with three runs of support all season. Kluber allowed just one run on two hits and struck out 10 in eight innings pitched. And, for once, he pitched with a comfortable lead.

It was the second straight game the Indians held a dangerous Tigers lineup to one run after Josh Tomlin and the bullpen did so on Friday night. For Kluber, it was just nice to see actual run support.

"I would say it’s awesome, you go out and score three runs in the first, that’s a huge boost,” Kluber said. “But then they didn’t stop there. They poured it on for five more in the third and kept scoring the whole game.”

Defensively, Francisco Lindor put on a show. Lindor first made an out-stretched, diving play to throw out Andrew Romine in the fifth inning. Two innings later, Miguel Cabrera drilled a one-hopper to Lindor at 107 mph, per Statcast, that he corralled as he fell backward. He was able to get up, set his feet and make the throw in time.

Kluber joked that the ball caught Lindor. Francona said maybe he just couldn’t get out of the way. For Lindor, it was just a reaction.

“I had nowhere else to go,” Lindor said. “As soon as he hit it, usually you take one step back with your left leg or right leg so you can get around the ball, but I couldn't turn. It was quick and after that, I was like, well, I had to either keep it in front of me or find a way to catch the ball. I just threw the glove and it got me.”

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The Aviles family fight against ‘the sicky bugs’ and Adriana’s trust in her parents

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 23, 2016
Adriana

When they got the news, the tears came instantly.

Mike Aviles and his wife, Jessy, were walking down a hospital hallway in November for another appointment in an endless list of tests and check-ups and treatments. With them was Adriana, their little girl who was diagnosed with Leukemia last May. These had become familiar halls.

Adriana’s primary doctor had been trying to contact them all day. Finally, he found them in the hallway. That’s when Aviles and his wife heard the words they had been desperately waiting to hear since May: “She’s at zero.”

“Instantly, my wife started crying. I start crying,” Aviles said Saturday in the Tigers’ clubhouse in Detroit. “It was just like, my daughter is laughing and smiling, wondering why the tears were coming down our eyes. We had to explain to her why. She was so excited, so pumped.”

The Avileses have sheltered Adriana, now five-years-old, from all the details of what’s been happening to her cells. Even after that incredible news, Adriana still needed radiation. She still needed a bone marrow transplant. All this after roughly six months of constant treatment, tests and trips to the hospital.

They couldn’t explain everything to Adriana. Adriana trusted her parents. Her parents wanted to trade places with her.

“She literally confided in and trusted me and my wife more than anything. ‘I trust you, Mommy and Daddy. I know you guys are doing this to help me,’” Aviles said. “She also understood that if my wife or I could change places with her, we would. It made her happy to hear that. ‘You really would do that?’ ‘Yeah. When you get older, you’ll understand.’”

Adriana knew she was sick. But she didn’t know just how severe it was, or how bad it could have gotten.

“She knows enough about it. She knows she had Leukemia. She knows she had sicky bugs in her blood,” Aviles said. “She knows how to talk about it, but she doesn’t know the extent, the severity of what cancer can do. In all honesty, I don’t think a kid should know. At that age, their innocence is previous and I think they should keep it as long as they can, because it’s sad when kids do lose that innocence.”

Mike and Jessy, as parents, were on emotional overload. Adriana’s bone marrow transplant was scheduled for December 4. Jessy was pregnant and had a due date of December 7. It meant that for some of Adriana’s treatments, Jessy wasn’t able to be there.

“She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move,” Aviles said. “So I was at the hospital the entire time for the bone marrow and that killed my wife as well because she was there all through the summer and she wanted to be there through that, but she wasn’t able to. So I was there the whole time and was able to help out my daughter. It was kind of scary for me, not knowing what to expect. You read the horror stories. You know about what could happen.”

Everything went well. Exceptionally well. On November 30, the Avileses welcomed Madden Michael Aviles, a healthy baby boy. Adriana took to the transplant as well as any patient could have.

“She had minimal side effects. It was crazy,” Aviles said. “The doctors joked around and said she was the test model patient for the bone marrow. … She’s been recovering ever since.”

It was announced in February that Adriana was cancer free. All around, players and those close to the game voiced their congratulations to the Aviles family and their thankfulness for the great news.

Manager Terry Francona was in Tucson, Ariz. when he heard the good news. He broke down in tears.

“I was in Tucson that day, I was by myself and I was crying,” Francona said. “I couldn’t help it. I was just so happy. I think I’m probably showing my age, because I think you can be happy without crying, but it hit me pretty hard.”

There have been plenty of tears for plenty of reasons in the Aviles household. Adriana has fought the sicky bugs. She doesn’t yet know just how severe the situation might have been. But she trusts her parents and knows they would trade places with her if they could.

And that makes her happy.

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Indians 2, Tigers 1: Ryan Lewis’ 22 Walk-Off Thoughts on Carlos Santana, Josh Tomlin, Cody Allen

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2016

Here are 22 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 2-1 win on the road against the Detroit Tigers Friday night.

1. Talk about instant validation. Indians manager Terry Francona had said in the spring he was kicking around the idea of batting Carlos Santana leadoff, but he never really let on that it was more than an off-hand thought. Then, he suddenly put Santana in the leadoff spot Friday night against Justin Verlander.

2. Santana worked a 3-2 count and belted a solo home run to lead off the game. In his next at-bat, he worked a 3-1 count and then doubled. Not a bad debut. But this wasn’t a one-game tryout or anything. And Francona said he probably won’t hit leadoff on Saturday. It was the right situation with guys resting and him having good success against Verlander, so he tried it.

3. It isn’t a permanent move. But it could happen from time to time and pick up steam.

4. Said Francona, “I thought he did a good job. He hit a home run his first at-bat. That was probably about as well as you could draw it up. But, if he was hitting fourth tonight, he might've done the same thing and there might've been somebody on base. I was pleased, because it gave us a lead.”

5. After the home run, Sandy Alomar joked to Santana that he was Rickey Henderson.

6. Francona made some good points before the game about how to value a leadoff hitter. Rajai Davis’ speed is certainly an asset. But in general, Francona thinks getting on-base carries more weight. It’s not quite the traditional view of a leadoff hitter, but it’s statistically the correct one. If he gets on base the most, he’ll have the most at-bats on the team, he’ll hit in front of, supposedly, the best remaining hitters.

Note: Read more on the Indians placing Carlos Santana in the leadoff spots with quotes from Francona, Santana and Indians GM Mike Chernoff

7. One of the things holding the Indians back is that Santana also has significant power, and taking him out of the middle of the order weakens it. That’s why it might be a touch-and-go thing, but once Brantley returns, they might feel the balance is OK.

8. Said Francona on OBP vs. speed before the game, “By far. Speed’s really good when you get on base. I’d rather have a guy get on base at a .400 clip and be slow than get on about 25 percent of the time and run like hell. If you’re running back to the dugout fast, that’s no good.”

9. It’ll be interesting to see if and, likely, when Santana gets another chance.

10. Josh Tomlin had a terrific start. He went 6 2/3 innings, gave up one run on four hits and a walk and struck out four. He also held a one-run lead for five innings before the Tigers finally tied it. Normally, one-run leads don’t last long against the Tigers.

11. Said Francona, “I think he pitched in really well, and then he threw his cutter or curveball off of that. He really commanded. That was one of the better pitched games we've seen.”

12. In terms of handling the middle of the Tigers’ order, Tomlin said, “You keep it down, keep the ball down as much as you can, try to face those guys with nobody on base so they can’t really put a crooked number up on you because one swing of the bat and they can change the game. For me, it was just trying to keep those guys in the ballpark and keep the ball down on them and mix it up enough to where hopefully they don’t put good swings on it.”

13. Tomlin is listed as the No. 5 starter. He’s been terrific since he came back from shoulder surgery late last season. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar will get the accolades. Tomlin has been as solid as they come, working the edges in the back of the rotation. Currently, it’s the No. 4 spot between Cody Anderson and Trevor Bauer that warrant the most questions.



14. Cody Allen had one of the more impressive ninth innings you can have. A day after throwing 30 pitches and allowing a three-run home run to Robinson Cano to lose in extra innings, he entered the ninth Friday night with a one-run lead and having to face Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez. Cabrera last season had, in almost a literal sense, Ruthian numbers against the Indians. The two Martinez’s are both among the better hitters in the American League.

15. Allen got Cabrera to weakly pop out to first base. Victor Martinez then drilled a ball 109.5 mph liner, according to Statcast, but it was directly into the shift and Jason Kipnis’ glove. J.D. Martinez then flew out to Lonnie Chisenhall in right field.

16. Talk about being thrown right back into the fire.

17. Said Allen, “It's good to get back out there and experience some success. It can snowball in either direction. You try to bounce back as well as you can and get something going, get some momentum and the ball rolling in the right direction.”

18. Zach McAllister struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia with the tying run on third in the seventh inning and Bryan Shaw worked a 1-2-3 eighth, another bounce-back effort after his poor start. Then came Allen, closing down meat of the Tigers’ lineup.

19. Said Francona, “There [were] a lot of good things. That was one of them, because with a one-run lead and three-four-five coming up, man, that's never comfortable. And he did a really good job. Everybody did. Zach came in and made real good pitches to Saltalamacchia when we had to. Shaw had a real good inning. These are games we've lost in the past, so it's a good start for us.”

20. Marlon Byrd in the top of the seventh gave the Indians back the lead, right after it was tied, on the first pitch he saw with a solo home run to the opposite field. Byrd didn’t have a full spring and said Friday night he’s starting to get his legs under him.

21. Said Byrd, “I’m getting there. I’m getting there. It’s starting to feel like I’ve got the spring-training legs out of me and the swing is there.”

22. The Indians doing just enough on the road in Detroit to scratch out a win—that hasn’t been said very often the last few years.

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A new experiment, two home runs, Josh Tomlin lift Indians to 2-1 road win against Detroit Tigers

By Ryan Lewis Published: April 22, 2016

The Indians struck gold using a new lineup, used the long ball and a received strong outing from starting pitcher Josh Tomlin to top the Detroit Tigers 2-1 at Comerica Park Friday night.

For the Indians, it’s an in-division win against a team they haven’t been able to consistently beat in several seasons. It also gets them back to a .500 record (7-7) as a key hitter, Michael Brantley, inches closer to returning from the 15-day disabled list.

All of the Indians’ runs came via the long ball, and it included some instant gratification on a new lineup confirmation. Indians manager Terry Francona placed Carlos Santana in the leadoff spot for the first time, as Rajai Davis and Jose Ramirez didn’t play and Santana had plenty of previous success against Tigers (8-7) starter Justin Verlander (1-2).

Santana responded by belting a solo home run to lead off the game and instantly putting the Indians up 1-0. Per STATS LLC, Santana is the first Indians batter to hit a hoe run in his first career plate appearance as leadoff hitter since Joe Carter in 1984.

Later, the Indians struck again. Tied 1-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Marlon Byrd took Verlander to the opposite field for a solo home run to give the Indians back the lead.

From that point, it was up to the Indians’ bullpen. Zach McAllister relieved Tomlin in the seventh inning and with the tying run on third, struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the inning. Bryan Shaw then worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Cody Allen, a day after throwing 30 pitches in a loss to the Seattle Mariners, earned his fifth save of the season in the ninth by go through the heart of the Tigers lineup.

After Santana’s home run in the first, Tomlin (2-0) kept a dangerous Tigers lineup at bay and held a 1-0 lead for five innings. It wasn’t until the sixth that the Tigers got to him, and it all happened with two outs.

Ian Kinsler started it with a single. Justin Upton, the Tigers’ slugging free-agent addition in the offseason, drove a double to center field that scored Kinsler all the way from the first and tied it 1-1. With first base open and two outs, Tomlin went after Miguel Cabrera but was careful working around the edges and ended up walking him anyway. Tomlin was then able to escape the inning still tied after getting Victor Martinez to ground out to Francisco Lindor at shortstop.

Prior to that, a double by Martinez in the second inning was Tomlin’s only hit allowed in the first five innings. Tomlin finished with one earned run on four hits and one walk to go with four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

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