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Lonnie Chisenhall’s better pitch selection has him in best offensive season of career

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 25, 2017

CLEVELAND: Indians outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall is in the middle of his best offensive season, and it could be in part thanks to a more disciplined approach.

Entering Sunday’s game, Chisenhall was hitting .294 with a .944 OPS. He’s slugged 10 home runs—three off his single-season high, when he hit 13 in 2014—to go with 10 doubles and 37 RBI in 163 plate appearances.

The power surge has been the most noticeable. Chisenhall’s .587 slugging percentage is 148 points higher than his previous season high, .439 last year.

Chisenhall has attributed to this to better pitch selection and a more decisive approach. Per FanGraphs, Chisenhall’s O-swing percentage (how often a hitter swings at pitches outside of the strike zone) is down to 33 percent from 42 percent last year.

“There’s no magic formula,” Chisenhall said. “The most important thing for me is pitch selection. When I swing at strikes, I tend to be a better hitter. That goes for a lot of people. My aggressiveness at times could get in the way of certain things in the past. It’s picking those spots, swinging at better pitches.”

Warm return

Mike Napoli will return to Progressive Field for the first time since the World Series on Monday when the Texas Rangers come to town for a four-game series. Napoli in his one season in Cleveland hit .239 with a career-high 34 home runs and 101 RBI. He also garnered a reputation as one who was revered within the Indians’ clubhouse.

“I'm sure [the reception will] be extremely warm, as it should be,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Just because a guy goes to a different team—that’s the business of the offseason. What he did for not just the team, but the organization, the people—I know he's going to get his ring. I'm looking forward to that a lot. He knows we want him to strike out every time he hits. That's part of being competitive. But it doesn't take away the fondness or the admiration that we have for him.”

Be aggressive

Yan Gomes’ throwing error in the first inning of Saturday’s game led to a 2-0 lead for the Minnesota Twins, a game they went on to win 4-2 over the Indians. With Joe Mauer on third, Gomes snapped a quick throw to third base to try to pick him off, but it instead went by Jose Ramirez and into left field.

Gomes has been successful in the past with those snap throws, which keeps opposing runners honest with their secondary leads. Francona likes the aggressiveness.

“That's part of what he does,” Francona said. “I don't think you can ever tell a guy, 'Hey, just throw it when they're out.' It'll never happen. Obviously you don't want the ball going into left field, but that's going to happen from time to time. You don't want it to happen a lot, but Gomer doesn't just fling it around the field. That's one of his tools.”

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Twins 4, Indians 2: 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on an ugly first inning, Corey Kluber’s renewed dominance

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 24, 2017

Here are 13 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

1. The Indians received a dominating performance from ace Corey Kluber but didn’t help him much in the first inning. Two errors led to two runs, and that self-inflicted deficit lasted until the seventh inning.

2. The error was attributed to Jason Kipnis, who was charged with a throwing error while in the shift. Throwing from the left side of the infield, Kipnis’ throw wasn’t too far off the mark but pulled Carlos Santana off the bag. After a walk, Dozier was driven in via a double by Robbie Grossman. And with Joe Mauer on third, Yan Gomes attempted a snap throw that got by Jose Ramirez, allowing Mauer to easily score.

3. As Indians manager Terry Francona pointed out, that inning also cost Kluber in his pitch count, which might have forced his exit from the game an inning early—meaning, he might have thrown the eighth inning, when Dozier took Cody Allen deep the game-winning run.

4. Francona: “He was good. It’s a shame because the way the first inning unfolded, not only did they get the two, but it probably cost him pitching the eighth inning. Instead of having the first pitch out of the game, which is about the best thing you could ever hope for, all of a sudden, he’s pitching out of trouble. He had a walk. We didn’t handle the first play. We threw a ball away. The runs are important, but almost as important the fact that it probably cost him an inning.”

5. Kluber: “Yeah, I think it was big to be able to strand the last guy but I was kind of disappointed in the way I handled the next two batters after the leadoff error, but like you said was able to bounce back and at least leave the last guy out there.”

6. Though it came in a loss, it was another example of Kluber looking to be in top form since returning from the disabled list with a strained lower back. Here’s Kluber since being activated from the DL:

June 1: 6 innings, 0 ER, 10 K’s
June 9: 6 innings, 3 ER, 8 K’s
June 14: 7 innings, 2 ER, 10 K’s
June 19: 9 innings, 0 ER, 11 K’s
June 24: 7 innings, 0 ER, 13 K’s

7. Altogether? A 1.29 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 35 innings. Kluber has said he’s been having to manage his back issue with a few extra exercises in-between starts. But it certainly no longer seems to be an issue. His season can be split into two parts: Pitching with the back issue (and in his first start, an issue with calluses) and after his DL stint. His regular self pitching every fifth day was one of the elements missing during the Indians’ sluggish start to the season.

8. Kluber: “I think first of all I probably have my body in a better position to be able to pitch the way I know how. But I think the key is just being able to throw all my pitches, not just for strikes but being able to command them, throw them where I want to throw them, not just throw them in the zone.”

9. Francona: “You know what, it’s a testament to what just good old fashioned hard work ethic can do. You go all the way back before I was here when he was in Triple-A, his numbers weren’t that great, there’s how many guys in the league that throw just as hard as him, but through hard work he has turned himself into one of the best pitchers in the game. And good for us because he’s strong, he’s got endurance. He doesn’t hit, that’s the only knock. And actually when he hits, he’s pretty good, too.”

10. Kluber has now struck out at least 10 hitters in three consecutive starts. If he reaches that mark in his next start, he’ll tie Bob Feller for the franchise record, which he set before World War II. It was also his 12th straight home start with at least seven strikeouts, a team record.

11. Francona went to Allen in the eighth as another testament to how a manager tries to balance winning every game with maintaining a bullpen’s health across a 162-game season. Allen needed to enter a game, Miller had been used extensively. As it turns out, Dozier turned on an Allen fastball and sent it over the left-field wall. Allen is almost always available after any appearance, good or bad, but wasn’t on Saturday to go home to be with his wife and new-born child.

12. No manager can view every game as a must-win. If it was, Miller likely would have entered in the eighth, though Francona cited some positive previous matchups in Allen’s favor with who was due up. Those previous matchup numbers are often criticized by some, but they are there.

13. “The guys he was facing I think, or potentially was going to face were something like 4-for-40. Again, going back to—we really needed Cody to pitch and Andrew’s pitched a lot. That was the reason.”

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Early mistakes, late home runs doom Indians in 4-2 loss to Minnesota Twins

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 24, 2017

CLEVELAND: The Indians spent most of the day chipping away at an early deficit for the most part of their own doing but ultimately fell short in a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon at Progressive Field.

The Indians (39-34) managed to erase some early self-inflicted wounds but couldn’t stave off a late charge by the Twins, who went to work against the bullpen.

Tied 2-2 in the top of the eighth, the Indians turned to Cody Allen (0-3). Allen tried to go high-and-inside to Brian Dozier, the first batter he faced. Dozier turned on the pitch and drove it to the Home Run Porch in left field, delivering the decisive blow and giving the Indians their second straight loss.

For good measure, former Indians catcher Chris Gimenez—who played left field and first base on Saturday—hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth off Zach McAllister to give the Twins some insurance.

Some poor defense by the Indians in the first inning helped to give the Twins (38-34) an early 2-0 lead. The Twins later returned the favor to help the Indians tie it 2-2 in the seventh.

Indians ace Corey Kluber turned in one of his better performances of the season but was hurt by two errors in the first inning. Jason Kipnis opened the game with a throwing error and after a walk, Robbie Grossman doubled to right field to make it 1-0 and ensure that the error was costly. With Joe Mauer on third, Yan Gomes attempted to pick him off with a snap throw, but it ended up in left field, allowing Mauer to easily score.

“It’s a shame because the way the first inning unfolded, not only did they get the two [runs], but it probably cost [Kluber] pitching the eighth inning,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Instead of having the first pitch out of the game, which is about the best thing you could ever hope for, all of a sudden, he’s pitching out of trouble.”

Jose Ramirez cut the Twins’ 2-0 lead in half in the fourth inning, driving a solo home run to right field off Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson. In the seventh, two singles set up Francisco Lindor, who against Twins reliever Matt Belisle grounded into a fielder’s choice. Shortstop Jorge Polanco, through, threw the ball away, allowing Gomes to score on the error and the Indians to tie it 2-2.

Kluber finished after allowing two runs—none earned—on three hits and two walks. He also struck out 13 batters, a new season high. For Kluber, it was his third straight start with at least 10 strikeouts, fifth this season season and the 29th of his career. It was also his 12th straight home start with at least seven strikeouts, a team record.

The loss cut the Indians’ lead in the American League Central down to half a game over the Twins. After the Indians swept the Twins in Minnesota in four games last weekend, the Twins have now won the first two in Cleveland.

“Well, they’re giving us a taste of our own medicine,” Kipnis said. “They are doing to us what we did at their place. I don’t know how or why. It is obviously easier to have more energy when you are hitting the ball well and things are going your way. You’ve got to keep fighting through it and fighting through the frustration when things aren’t going your way.”

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Twins 5, Indians 0: 13 Walk-Off Thoughts on Trevor Bauer, a rough second inning, BABIP regression

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 23, 2017

Here are 13 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins Friday night.

1. Trevor Bauer has been searching for answers all season. He’s now 6-6 this season with a 5.53 ERA. He’s been striking out batters at a career-best rate and is among baseball’s leaders with a 10.29 K/9 rate, which is seventh in the game. But he’s still not putting together a stretch like he did in the middle of last season, when he simplified things while working with catcher Chris Gimenez.

2. On Friday night, it was a location issue. Bauer began finding the middle of the plate—as he pointed out, at least one instance was with the intent of throwing a high strike on a 3-2 pitch—and was hit hard for a four-run second inning. Two of the outs in that inning were hard-hit fly balls that were nearly extra-base hits. That inning included a two-run home run and two doubles.

3. Here’s Bauer’s breakdown: “Let’s see. Kepler hit a good changeup down and away for a leadoff double. I made a really good pitch to Rosario that blew him up. It wasn’t even hit hard enough to even get an out. And then Polanco hit the home run. 3-2, I don’t want to walk him so I made the decision to get more of the plate, made sure to elevate it because he doesn't hit—I don’t think he has a hit on a fastball from a righty in the upper third of the zone this year, and he hit that one. Not a great pitch, but I defend the logic behind throwing it. Walk Castro, not a good idea. Then try to get Dozier on a fastball away, came back, good pitch but he hit it. I don’t know. When you have a BABIP as high as mine you have to strike out more people to be successful. I just wasn’t able to strike people out when I got to two strikes tonight.”

4. It’s a line that Bauer has often taken—that he felt it was a quality pitch and it was hit by a hitter who shouldn’t have hit it like he did. Though, in his last two outings, Bauer has also admitted that one pitch or another was a bad pitch.

5. Though, he did bring up his BABIP, which is now a career-high .340. Among qualified starting pitchers, it’s the eighth-highest mark in the league this season. Bauer’s career BABIP is .296. Those types of numbers often regress back to their means/averages, which is where a lot of the value and fun of following the analytics side of baseball rests. But, it is a deeper issue than that.

6. For example, it’s good that Bauer’s K% is up to 27.6 percent from 20.7 last year. But in terms of his BABIP, it isn’t great that his hard-hit contact percentage, per FanGraphs, is up to 39.1 percent from his career average of 31.7 percent.

7. Is that discrepancy enough to make up for the difference in 2017 BABIP compared to his career average? If his line-drive and hard-hit percentages were the same, as well as other fly-ball/groundball rates, he’d be a clear candidate to rebound. But, hitters are making hard contact more often. The question is, how much regression could there be?

8. Bauer for now is clearly the Indians’ No. 5 option among starting pitchers. He remains a pitcher with some space between where he is and where his potential rests as a controllable asset. But, the answers have yet to come. The strikeouts have been there, but so too have the home runs.

9. On Friday night, it was about locating. The logic could be there, but the execution wasn’t.

10. Terry Francona: “He threw too many pitches that were catching too much of the plate. Most of them were fastballs. There was one, I think the leadoff hitter was a – I think he’d gotten ahead 0-2 on the right fielder and threw two breaking balls and a split was up. In that inning, there were some balls, even the outs, fortunately Buxton hit a ball and we’re playing ways all around the pole or that’s probably a double. Escobar’s ball went right to the wall. It was just a lot of misses that inning.”

11. Of course with Erik Gonzalez getting the start to give Jose Ramirez a day of rest, he’d come up with the bases loaded twice in the first four innings. Gonzalez is known much more for his defense than his abilities at the plate, and he struck out twice. One K ended the inning to strand three runners. The second K was the second out, which led to Francisco Lindor lining out to end the threat again with the bases juiced. That ball was drilled, but it was hit right at Eddie Rosario in left field.

12. That’s how it often seems to happen. Take out a hot hitter because, as Francona said before the game, Ramirez was “dragging,” and of course Gonzalez’s spot in the lineup had two of the three most important at-bats for the Indians on the night. It was a frustrating night for the Indians’ offense all-around, especially after such a torrid two weeks.

13. Francona: “[Mejia has] got size and he’s got pretty good stuff. He wasn’t commanding I’m sure like he wanted to, or sometimes like younger pitchers can. We just weren’t able to get – Frankie, the one at-bat with the bases-loaded, but there was two outs and he hit a bullet to the left fielder. Lonnie I thought hit his ball right on the screws to left field and didn’t get anything for it. When we get the runners on, we just weren’t able to do anything. We started either chasing out of the zone or getting ourselves in a hole and weren’t able to capitalize.”

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Indians’ hot streak dampened by Minnesota Twins, misting rain in 5-0 loss

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 23, 2017

CLEVELAND: Nothing like a persistent mist to cool down what was one of the hottest teams and offenses in baseball.

After going 7-1 on their recent road trip in which they scored at least five runs in every game, the Indians’ offense was halted in a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins Friday night in a game layered with a misting rain for much of the night.

The Indians (39-33) mustered only four hits, two of them coming against Twins starting pitcher Adalberto Mejia (2-3), who threw five scoreless innings in his best start of the season. They had previously totaled at least 10 hits in nine straight games, the longest streak for the franchise since 2001.

Erik Gonzalez started at third base in place of Jose Ramirez. Ramirez had been the Indians’ hottest hitter—as well as one of the hottest hitters in baseball—over the past two weeks but was in need of a day of rest after remaining in the lineup through his torrid streak.

As fate would have it Gonzalez, batting in the No. 2 spot, came up to bat with the bases loaded twice in the first four innings. Mejia struck out Gonzalez both times, as the Indians came up empty in their only two scoring chances of the night. The first opportunity, in the second inning, came with two outs and after Mejia had walked the bases loaded. The second bases loaded situation came as a result of the Indians’ only two hits off of him and an error. Gonzalez struck out as the second out of the inning and was followed by Francisco Lindor, who lined a ball to left field but right at outfielder Eddie Rosario.

The Twins (37-34), meanwhile, had little trouble hitting Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who in the second inning began missing his intended spot and found too much of the plate too often. The Twins in that inning scored four runs on four hits, three of them extra-base hits. Two of the outs recorded in the inning included a fly-out to the wall in right field and a line drive to deep left field.

The one softly-hit ball via an infield, broken-bat single by Eddie Rosario made it 1-0. Jorge Polanco then crushed a two-run home run on a pitch down the middle of the plate, making it 3-0. After a walk, Brian Dozier extended the Twins’ early lead to 4-0 with an RBI-double to center field.

Dozier later made it 5-0 in the seventh, scoring Byron Buxton with a bloop single to end Bauer’s night. Bauer (6-6) finished with five runs allowed, four earned (one scored following an error on Bauer), on eight hits and one walk. He also struck out four.

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Jose Ramirez building All-Star case; Danny Salazar to throw sim game on Monday

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 23, 2017

CLEVELAND: Jose Ramirez was held out of the lineup on Friday night. Perhaps he needed to let his bat cool after a scorching week and a half of hitting.

Ramirez had one hit in Thursday’s 6-3 win in Baltimore, snapping a streak of nine straight multi-hit games.

“He hit himself right out of the lineup,” joked Indians manager Terry Francona.

Ramirez was on such a torrid pace that he was one of the few to play in all four games over a three-day stretch in Minnesota. He might have received a day off a bit earlier in the week, but the club wanted to keep his bat in the lineup as long as possible.

“You could tell he was dragging,” Francona said. “Kid has been on the bases all [the time]. The last couple days, I think he knew he probably needed one, but he was swinging the bat so well.” 

All the while, he’s built a strong case to fly to Miami for the All-Star Game in July. Entering Friday’s game, Ramirez was hitting .321 with a .376 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, four triples, 23 doubles and 34 RBI to go with seven stolen bases. Per FanGraphs, Ramirez leads American League third basemen with 2.7 WAR this season. That mark is tied for second in baseball, trailing only the Colorado Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, at 2.8.

Only one player in Indians history has a longer streak of multi-hit games than Ramirez’s: “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who had streaks of 10 and 11 straight games in 1911 and 1912, respectively.

“In my opinion, he’s an All-Star, and if he’s not, I’m not sure who is,” Francona said. “He’s backing up last year with another. I know he’s been hot, but he’s a good hitter anyway. He’s a good hitter that’s hot right now. Even when he’s not this scalding hot, he’s still a good hitter. He’s a .300 major league hitter.”

According to the last All-Star voting update, Ramirez was second among AL third basemen with 891,731 votes, trailing the Minnesota Twins’ Miguel Sano, who has 1,302,090.

On the mend

Indians pitcher Danny Salazar, on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder soreness, is slated to throw a two-inning simulated game in Akron on Monday. The club will then determine the next step based on how Salazar’s shoulder responds to the workload. 

Salazar has had an off-kilter 2017 season, never regaining the kind of success he had prior to arm injuries that derailed his 2016 season around the All-Star break. Salazar this season has 77 strikeouts in only 55 innings pitched, but he’s been hit hard to the tune of a 5.40 ERA. He had been moved to the bullpen in an effort to regain some aggressiveness before being placed on the disabled list and sent to Akron to work with pitching coach Tony Arnold.

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Indians power past Los Angeles Dodgers 12-5, avoid sweep

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 15, 2017

CLEVELAND: The Indians were without two key members of the lineup but didn’t seem to mind, routing the Los Angeles Dodgers 12-5 on Thursday afternoon to avoid the sweep.

Jason Kipnis was out for the second straight day with neck stiffness and Michael Brantley was away from the club due to his wife having a baby. No Kipnis or Brantley, no problem.

Facing former Indians pitcher and current Dodgers starter Rich Hill, the Indians put together a three-run first inning. Three consecutive singles to start the inning were capped by Jose Ramirez’s RBI-single up the middle. Roberto Perez later walked with the bases loaded and Bradley Zimmer beat out an infield single to make it 3-0.

Ramirez added an RBI-double in the second inning and was then caught trying to steal third. The next pitch from Hill was crushed by Edwin Encarnacion for a home run, his 13th of the season, giving the Indians a 5-0 advantage.

The Dodgers fought back against Josh Tomlin before Lonnie Chisenhall loudly closed the door a half-inning later. A solo home run by Cody Bellinger, an RBI double by Yasiel Puig and a two-run home run by Chris Tylor brought the Dodgers to within 5-4.

The Dodgers went to reliever Ross Stripling in the bottom of the fifth, which brought on Chisenhall as a pinch hitter. Chisenhall belted Stripling’s second pitch for a three-run home run to center field to push the Indians’ lead to 8-4. An inning later, he added a two-run single.

In doing so, Chisenhall became only the third Indians hitter to drive in at least five runs in a game in which he didn’t start, joining Chuck Essegian in 1961 and John Ellis in 1973. Perez then knocked in a run with a broken-bat single.

In the seventh, Erik Gonzalez, again in the lineup with Kipnis out, hit his first career home run, a solo shot to left field to cap the day’s scoring at 12-5.

Tomlin lasted five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out seven.

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Dodgers 6, Indians 4: 11 Walk-Off Thoughts on a 31-31 record, frustration, getting things moving

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 15, 2017

Here are 11 Walk-Off Thoughts after the Indians’ 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1. So the Indians are 31-31, a pretty strong mathematical representation for a team that’s been pretty good but knows it can be great.

2. Spinning their tires, whatever metaphor works best, the Indians have been a pretty good baseball team this season. But, that isn’t good enough anymore, and it’s well below what they can do on paper. The last two words are the keys to that sentence, though.

3. There have been some injuries. There have been some cold streaks. Slow starts. Slumps. No disasters or huge set-backs. Just little bumps in the road that have the Indians still trying to correct their course. The beginning of a long, 162-game season is often looked at as a survival anyway, so how many teams would gladly accept a 31-31 record and being two games out of the division on June 14?

4. The Indians would have been one of those teams the last several years. This year, it’s leaving more of a sour taste. The Indians feel there’s more to be done.

5. There are exactly 100 games left. That’s a lot of baseball. But the Indians are still searching for their stride.

6. Corey Kluber: "I'd be lying to say that we weren't frustrated with the way we've played, and obviously our record shows that. But, you know, no body is going to feel sorry for us. We don't have a choice but to continue to try to play better and to win more games. It's really that simple. I think that for whatever reason we haven't been able to put different pieces together at the same time for very many games in a row. Like I said, I think our only choice is to try to continue to figure out a way to do it."

7. Maybe the Indians can essentially limp to the American League Central crown. The Minnesota Twins are 33-29 and that’s even a strong overachievement compared to expectations for this season. Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals remain stagnant at 30-34 each. But to challenge the likes of the Houston Astros, New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox? The Indians know there’s another gear, but they have to find it.

8. Andrew Miller: “I don’t know that I would call it frustration, because I don’t know that there’s any need to press or anything. But I think we think we’re a better team than this. I think I’m a better pitcher than I’ve been the last two nights. I think it’s great that we’ve shown fight at the end, you know, this is a really good team we’re playing, but at the same time, I think big picture, yeah, we think we’re better than 31-31, but nobody really cares what we think. We have to go out there and win more games.”

9. And that’s the crux of the matter. The Indians do have quite a bit of time to figure things out. But potential doesn’t mean necessarily mean anything. There’s time, but that doesn’t last forever.

10. Terry Francona: “We’ve been inconsistent in a lot of areas and at the moment we’re a .500 team. So, where do we go from here? Fortunately we have a lot of baseball in front of us, but we need to get moving. The guys know that. I know that. We need to…I want to say pay attention to details. And you want to do it while you’re really getting after it. We can’t just have it one or the other. I guess that is the way I would describe the play at second. Those are the things we’re not right now, we can’t get away with it right now. Not against a team like that.”

11. Every team wants to be at its absolute best at the end of September and going into October for the postseason. If last October was the Indians in fifth gear, they’ve been stuck in third all through the 2017 season. They’ve got one hundred games to go.

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Dodgers take Andrew Miller deep again, Indians fall 6-4

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 14, 2017

CLEVELAND: Andrew Miller hadn’t given up a home run this season prior to this week. He had been as virtually unhittable as any pitcher in baseball, as no hitter had been able to get ahold of a fastball or slider enough to send it out of the park or, really, do any damage at all.

In a play that stunned Miller and most of the crowd at Progressive Field, the Los Angels Dodgers hit the go-ahead home run off of Miller for the second straight game, as the Indians fell 6-4 on Wednesday night.

The loss dropped the Indians to 31-31 for the season. It’s the first time since April 18 (7-7) they have been at or below .500.

Tied 2-2 in the eighth, Enrique Hernandez drove a solo home run to right field off Miller that led to a four-run eighth to take the lead and put the game out of reach. On Tuesday night, Miller (3-2) also gave up a go-ahead home run, also in the eighth inning, that one belonging to Cody Bellinger.

The Dodgers (41-25) added on following the go-ahead shot. Yasmani Grandal grounded into what appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but Erik Gonzalez, who started the game after Jason Kipnis was scratched due to neck stiffness, wasn’t on the base during the turn, allowing a run to score. With Zach McAllister on the mound, Chris Taylor later blooped a single into center field to score two more runs and make it 6-2.

In the bottom of the eighth, Michael Brantley doubled in a run and Edwin Encarnacion drove him in with a check-swing single to chip away at the Dodgers’ lead, but the Indians couldn’t overcome the Dodgers’ rally in the eighth.

The Dodgers earlier in the game put two runners in scoring position in the second inning and got both home on a 75-foot, weakly-hit ground ball and a play more-often seen in Little League.

With two outs, Joc Pederson grounded a ball to third base that Jose Ramirez had to quickly gather to try to make it a close play, but he couldn’t get a handle on it, putting the Dodgers up 1-0. With Chris Taylor on third, Pederson then tried to steal second base. Yan Gomes fired to second base to try to get the third out and had Pederson beat by several steps, but Gonzalez instead threw back to Gomes after Taylor had broken for home. His throw was off line, technically meaning Taylor stole home and giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers later tried the double-steal again, only this time Gomes fired to third base and caught Pederson too far off the base to end the inning.

The Indians’ cut the lead in half in the sixth and evened the score in the seventh against the Dodgers bullpen. Facing Grant Dayton with runners on the corners, Michael Brantley hit a fly ball to center field that right fielder Yaisel Puig, owner one of the game’s best arms, ran over to catch. Bradley Zimmer, in the leadoff spot in Kipnis’ absence, tested his arm and won the battle to make it 2-1. An inning later, Jose Ramirez blasted a solo home run to right field, his ninth of the season.

Indians ace Corey Kluber turned in another strong outing since his return to the disabled list and made some history while doing it. Kluber allowed two runs on four hits and a walk and struck out 10 in seven innings.

With a strikeout of Puig in the fifth, Kluber became the 11th Indians pitcher to reach 1,000 strikeouts in his career. He also became the fastest to reach that mark in franchise history, besting Bob Feller by 19 games (148-167). Sam McDowell (169 games), CC Sabathia (195) and Luis Tiant (199) all reached that mark in fewer than 200 games.

Kluber also became the seventh pitcher in baseball history to reach 1,000 strikeouts in 150 appearances or fewer, joining some elite company that includes Kerry Wood (134 games), Tim Lincecum (136), Roger Clemens (143), Stephen Strasburg (144), Dwight Gooden (145) and Hideo Nomo (147).

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Indians manager Terry Francona taken to hospital after Tuesday’s game; Feels OK, mostly embarrassed

By Ryan Lewis Published: June 14, 2017

CLEVELAND: Indians manager Terry Francona left Tuesday’s game in the ninth inning and was taken to the hospital with light-headedness and a faster-than-normal heart.

Francona didn’t feel like himself all night and a few times felt like he had to catch himself from falling over. He had a trainer check his heart rate, which was between 105-110, per Francona. He was then taken to a local hospital in an ambulance and tested. As it turns out, it was mostly dehydration.

Francona said on Wednesday he mostly felt embarrassed, along with being a bit tired. But during Tuesday’s game, he knew something wasn’t right, and it finally became clear something was off.

“I finally came inside because I was like, ‘Man, something’s not right,’” Francona said. “I was just really dehydrated. As we all know, you have to stay liquidated. I guess I didn’t. So, now, you show up the next day, you’re more embarrassed than anything. And I’m beat up. And I got to go with the lights on to the hospital, so that was a treat.”

In the eighth, Francona was talking to bench coach Brad Mills and realized he was missing some things Mills was saying.

“I think that’s when he got nervous,” Francona said. “I think I missed a couple things. I really was out of it, more than normal. But I just feel tired today, which they said I would be. But I’m OK. … I texted him at 1 am, I said, ‘Don’t change the signs, I’m not dying.’”

When asked if Francona was still cleared to eat hot dogs, he joked, “I hope so, I just ate two and don’t plan on being done.”

Francona also had an episode in Washington last August, though at that time he was experiencing chest pains, which were not present on Tuesday night. He also experienced two health issues prior to coming to Cleveland.

In 2002, he had chest pains that ended up being the result of a blood clot in his lungs. He was hospitalized for four days after sustaining a pulmonary embolism. In 2005, Francona was taken to a hospital in New York complaining of “stiffness” in his chest.

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti drove Francona home from the hospital Tuesday night.

“I felt bad for hm,” Francona said. “He’s got the draft and babysitting me.”

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