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Carrasco helps Indians keep up playoff push

Righty fans seven over 6 2/3; Kipnis drives in go-ahead run

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CHICAGO -- One of the best stories of this season for the Indians has been one of the most unexpected. Following a disastrous start to the season, right-hander Carlos Carrasco appeared banished to the bullpen.

Carrasco got a second chance and has seized his opportunity in overpowering fashion.

On Thursday night, Carrasco continued his comeback tale in Chicago, where he worked into the seventh to lead the Tribe to a 3-2 victory over the White Sox. The pitcher's performance overcame another round of low run support, sealed a series win over the South Siders and helped Cleveland collect its 11th win in 16 games.

"It's miraculous, man," Indians center fielder Michael Bourn said of Carrasco's recent showing. "I've always thought he has great stuff. I've seen him since he's 19. We came up in the Phillies organization almost together. So, I've been seeing him for a long time.

"People don't understand, when you play at this level, it takes more than one year or two years to get adjusted to it."

Led by Corey Kluber, Cleveland's starting pitching has played an integral role in keeping the club afloat in the American League playoff hunt over the past few weeks. Since being pulled back out of the bullpen on Aug. 10, Carrasco has stepped up, impressed and given the Tribe another formidable option every five days.

The victory helped the third-place Indians pull within 5 1/2 games of the American League Central-leading Royals. In the chase for the AL's second Wild Card, Cleveland currently faces a four-game deficit behind the Mariners and Tigers. The Tribe's next stop happens to be Kansas City, where the division foes will engage in a three-game set.

"Every game is so important," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "and every series."

Against the White Sox, Carrasco threw 71 percent strikes (73 of 103 pitches) and ended the evening with seven strikeouts against just one walk in his 6 2/3 innings. The big right-hander relinquished the lone run in the third, when Chicago slugger Jose Abreu flicked a pitch outside the strike zone into left-center field for an RBI single, pulling the game into a 1-1 tie.

"We're finding out the hard way," Francona said, "that with two strikes, you can't expand the plate too much with Abreu. He can reach just about anything. That's been a thorn in our side, and probably the rest of the league, too. That's the only run [Carrasco] gave up."

Abreu has done damage against plenty of pitchers this season, but Carrasco carried on unfazed by the momentary setback.

Since rejoining Cleveland's rotation, all Carrasco has done is turn in a perfect 3-0 record to go along with a pristine 0.73 ERA. The righty has registered 69 percent of his pitches for strikes, turned in a 0.57 WHIP, limited batters to a .131 average and piled up 24 strikeouts against only three walks in 24 2/3 innings.

In the first inning, Carrasco came out firing, hitting as high as 99 mph on the radar gun.

"I feel good about myself," Carrasco said. "It's something I learned in the bullpen: attack. That's what pitching's about."

Carrasco has provided the best-case scenario in terms of what Cleveland felt he could do when he began the season in the Opening Day rotation. After four rough outings -- during which he went 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA -- Carrasco was sent to the bullpen, where he established a routine and settled in nicely as a long reliever.

Dating back to Carrasco's move to the relief corps, including his recent four-start stretch, the pitcher has turned in a 1.73 ERA to go along with a 0.84 WHIP and .187 opponents' average. His final two relief appearances included 21 and 59 pitches, respectively, preparing him for a transition to starting again.

The move has paid off in a big way for the Indians.

"He continues to do it," Francona said. "He came out, he established his fastball, he held it. Especially when he kind of saw the end coming, he reached back for a little more. He had a good touch on his breaking ball and his changeup."

Cleveland's offense was not able to do much against White Sox lefty John Danks, who lasted six innings en route to a loss. In the first inning, Bourn led off with one of his two triples on the night and then scored on a groundout to short off the bat of Jose Ramirez. Jason Kipnis added an RBI single in the sixth and Michael Brantley did the same in the seventh, giving Carrasco just enough support.

After Carrasco bowed out of the ballgame, Chicago tried to rally against Cleveland's bullpen. With two outs and runners on first and second in the eighth -- one baserunner came courtesy of a fielding error by third baseman Mike Aviles -- closer Cody Allen surrendered an RBI single to Adam Dunn to help the White Sox pull within one run.

Allen halted Chicago's comeback by striking out Avisail Garcia to end the eighth and then struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 18th save.

"We're getting really good pitching right now," Bourn said. "We feel really confident that, if we can scrap some runs across, they're going to hold the fort down for us. That's a good thing to have."


Perez a quality fill-in for Tribe in Gomes' absence

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CHICAGO -- The absence of catcher Yan Gomes over the past week has given the Indians the chance to take a close look at what they have in rookie Roberto Perez. If Gomes is activated from Major League Baseball's concussion list as expected on Friday, Perez will slide back to the backup role.

While Cleveland was already impressed with Perez's play in the reserve role, the team has been thrilled with how he has handled the increased responsibility of late.

"He's done tremendous," Indians manager Terry Francona said on Thursday. "It's kind of a cool story. His whole Minor League career he was always known for being such a good defensive catcher and really had a good reputation for running a game and being a good teammate. And, all of a sudden, things offensively started to fall together."

Heading into Thursday's game against the White Sox, the 25-year-old Perez was batting .280 with four extra-base hits, four RBIs and five runs scored in 17 games for the Indians. The Tribe's pitching staff had a 2.65 ERA with Perez behind the plate and he had also thrown out 50 percent (6-for-12) of would-be basestealers.

Perez was not happy to see Gomes land on MLB's seven-day consussion list on Saturday, but the young catcher has enjoyed filling in as the starter.

"You never want to see that happen to a guy," Perez said ."Something serious like a concussion, I don't wish that on anybody. But now that I've had the opportunity to play every day, I just want to call a good game and just keep learning."

Francona said Gomes will need to pass some more tests before being cleared for activation in time for Friday's road game against Kansas City.

"We'll reserve the right to [change our mind]," Francona said on Thursday. "Obviously, we'll get him on the flight tonight and we'll let him go through all his stuff today, and then we'll probably even wait and let him get through pregame [Friday] just because there's no reason not to. And then we'll do something."


Indians to ramp up Salazar's spring regimen

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CHICAGO -- The Indians put Danny Salazar on an extremely gradual throwing program during Spring Training and the young right-hander went on to endure a rough April. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway believes that Cleveland has discovered the flaw in the team's approach.

Throughout Salazar's Minor League career, the pitcher has gained steam throughout the season in terms of both velocity and endurance. What Callaway hopes to do in the coming winter and next spring is design a new program that puts Salazar on pace to be firing on all cylinders come Opening Day.

"I'm going to make some trips to the Dominican to go see him [over the offseason]," Callaway said. "We're going to hopefully get him out to Spring Training considerably early to really get him going. Really, it'll just be to get him ready for the season. We'll kind of push it up. We were thinking about a lot of things this past spring, as far as still kind of controlling [his innings].

"It kind of slipped past us that he's never really been ready to win his first game of the season. It's always been, 'OK, go work on developing things.' So, I think we need to make an adjustment to that."

In his first eight starts this season, Salazar went 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA in 40 2/3 innings, in which he registered 61 percent strikes, allowed an .886 opponents' OPS and turned in a 1.62 WHIP. Following a stint at Triple-A, Salazar returned to the Indians on June 22 and has made six starts at the Major League level.

During that more recent stretch, Salazar has gone 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 33 innings. Across that sample, the right-hander has thrown 66 percent strikes, limited hitters to a .628 OPS and posted a 1.15 WHIP. Salazar has also sat around 93-96 mph with his fastball, compared to around 92-95 mph earlier this season.

"He's always been a bit of a slow starter," Callaway said. "We've always seen his velocity, like in April, it averages around 92 [mph], and then in September, he averaged 96 last year. So he's always kind of conditioned himself -- kind of the Minor League way when you're coming up -- to ease yourself into the season.

"He's always kind of been in that mindset of building up. It's probably my fault that we probably didn't do a good job of getting him ready for Spring Training, where he had to come out and compete. He didn't know how to do it himself. We just kind of figured he'll be ready, but we didn't ever look at the history of it until after the season started."


Yankees acquire lefty specialist Outman from Indians

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CHICAGO -- The Yankees added a layer of specialization to their bullpen on Thursday, acquiring left-hander Josh Outman from the Indians in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations.

Outman opened this season as a member of Cleveland's bullpen, but was designated for assignment in June and sent outright to Triple-A Columbus. At both the Major League and Minor League levels, the lefty has performed well against left-handed batters.

Lefties have been an issue overall for the Yankees, whose left-handed relievers (David Huff and Matt Thornton have occupied the bulk of the innings) have combined for a .274 opponents' average against left-handed batters. Outman, who will join New York's Major League staff, has limited lefties to a .188 average across his six-year career in the big leagues.

In 31 games for Cleveland earlier this season, the 29-year-old Outman went 4-0 with a 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings, during which he had 24 strikeouts, 16 walks and a 1.54 ERA. With lefties Marc Rzepczynski, Nick Hagadone and Kyle Crockett in the fold, Outman became the odd-man out and was demoted to Triple-A on June 25.

With Columbus, Outman turned in a 4.43 ERA in 23 games, but he held left-handed hitters to a .189 average in that span. With the Indians, the lefty reliever had a .180 opponents' average (.673 OPS) against left-handed batters, compared to a .295 opponents' average (.927 OPS) against right-handed hitters.

Across 152 career games in the Majors, Outman has turned in a 4.49 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP between stints with the A's, Rockies and Indians. Cleveland originally acquired Outman last offseason in a one-for-one swap with Colorado that sent outfielder Drew Stubbs to the Rockies.


Salazar leads Indians into KC for critical division test

Salazar, Vargas kick off set as first-place Royals try to build lead

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Coming off a series win against Minnesota, the Royals will look to keep rolling and hang onto their 1 1/2-game lead in the American League Central in a weekend series against the third-place Indians, who sit 5 1/2 back of the division leaders.

The season series has been up and down, with the Royals holding a 7-6 edge. The series will begin with a matchup between Jason Vargas and Danny Salazar.

When Vargas takes the mound for the Royals, they know they're going to get a lot of strikes and a good variety of well-positioned pitches. This lefty won't blow anyone away, but he can calmly hit his spots with deadly accuracy.

He's just one of five solid pitchers, all with different looks and approaches, that manager Ned Yost has in his rotation.

"[James] Shields, Vargas, [Jeremy] Guthrie are experienced guys," Yost said. "They know how to use a real solid defense behind them. [Danny] Duffy and [Yordano] Ventura are learning that also. But you've got power in the young guys and great command and competitiveness out of the veteran guys. It's a great mix.

"You are getting different looks every day. You've got a power left-hander in Duffy and you've got a command, control guy in Vargas. Shields is different than Ventura. They're all different looks and that makes it good."

Vargas is coming off a six-inning, two-run performance in which he worked around 11 hits and four walks.

His Friday night opponent, Salazar, has been strong over his last six starts, posting a 3-2 record, 3.27 ERA and .232 opponents' batting average. That marks a stark turnaround from his first eight starts of the season, when he went 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA and was demoted back to Triple-A.

"When Danny gets in, like, attack mode, he's pretty good," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "We've all seen where he'll work himself maybe in a bind, where he throws ball one, ball two, ball three, and then he'll get after it. If he can stay in that mode right from the get-go, that's when he's really [good]. Then, he's not guiding his slider -- he's throwing it. And then that makes his changeup better. Because he's got three really good pitches."

In fact, the entire Cleveland rotation has been rolling of late as the team has tried to stay in the Wild Card picture. The team is third in the Majors with a 2.87 ERA since the All-Star break and a 2.27 ERA over its last 16 games.

"They've been unbelievable and they've had a lot of pressure on them," Francona said. "We've played some close games, so they're pitching well and pitching out of some big situations in very close ballgames. It's not like we're having a six-run cushion every night and they're relaxing and being able to just go out there and make pitches. I think that's probably been the most impressive, that their best stretch has come probably when we needed it most."

Indians: Gomes back Friday?
Starting catcher Yan Gomes has been on Major League Baseball's seven-day concussion list since Saturday, but showed daily improvement during the Tribe's recent series in Chicago.

Francona noted that Gomes was on pace to be activated on Friday, but Cleveland will closely monitor his progress before making that decision.

"We'll reserve the right to [change our mind]," Francona said on Thursday. "Obviously, we'll get him on the flight tonight and we'll let him go through all his stuff today and then we'll probably even wait and let him get through pregame [Friday] just because there's no reason not to. And then we'll do something."

Royals: A wealth of 40-RBI guys
The Royals have an unusual distinction: They're the only Major League club that has eight players with at least 40 RBIs this season. Though the team lacks a huge offensive superstar, they've had well-balanced firepower.

"It's a good thing because everybody is contributing. That's what you want," Yost said. "We don't have any guys with huge numbers, but our record is pretty good and we've got guys that are getting the job done. So that needs to keep up through the month of September."

The high RBI guys are Alex Gordon with 61 and Omar Infante with 59. Also at 40 or more are Billy Butler, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas. Actually, there's a ninth 40-RBI guy in Josh Willingham, but the first 34 of his came for the Twins.

"It's a perfect blend, really," Yost said. "That's what you want. You want a lot of guys doing a bunch of little things to help you win ballgames."

Worth noting
Royals second baseman Infante has a chance of returning from a sore shoulder on Friday night. He's been out since Monday.


Ramirez opening eyes at shortstop

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CHICAGO -- After the Indians traded veteran shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the Nationals last month, it appeared to clear top prospect Francisco Lindor's path to the Majors. That might still hold true for next season, but Cleveland is currently taking a close look at another young shortstop: Jose Ramirez.

Perceived as second baseman or future utility man, Ramirez was handed the keys to short for the rest of this season, and the youngster has impressed in the field. With his solid defensive showing and offensive contributions, the 21-year-old Ramirez has given the Tribe some things to think about over the winter.

"I don't think we were surprised," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Ramirez's play. "I just think that when people in our industry look at somebody and don't see maybe a big arm, they immediately go, 'Second base.' Well, his range is tremendous and he moves his feet really well and he's got a good clock.

"I guess what I'm saying is, he's done a heck of a job at short. We know he can play second. We've put him at third. But he's a pretty good shortstop. When we traded Cabby, there was a reason. And it wasn't because we didn't like Cabby."

Through 24 appearances at shortstop this season, Ramirez has turned in a negative 1.8 UZR/150, which ranked him 12th among the 21 American League shortstops with at least 200 innings in the field this season. By comparison, Cabrera had a negative 10.4 rating (17th in the AL). According to Fangraphs.com, Ramirez has zero Defensive Runs Saved (ninth in the AL) in 212 1/3 innings, but that is the same as Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar through his 1,163 2/3 innings.

In the Minor Leagues, Ramirez played mostly second base (199 games), but shortstop (74 games) was his secondary position. He also played some third and outfield in the Minors. In his brief stint with Cleveland last season, Ramirez only logged two innings at shortstop.

"I've been really impressed with how he's played over there," said Indians third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh, who is also the team's infield instructor. "The one thing that's impressed me is, not only what he's shown with his range, but he's got very good baseball instincts. He reads balls off the bat very well. He anticipates where the ball is going to be and is very accurate with his throws. He's got a good, quick release. He's definitely opened eyes out there."


Catch shows healthy Bourn at his best

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CHICAGO -- Anyone doubting Michael Bourn's health need only to look to the eighth inning of Tuesday's win over the White Sox for some peace of mind. The Indians' center fielder made a spectacular diving catch that required both speed and athleticism.

Bourn's left hamstring appears to be holding up just fine for now.

"He's not playing with any fear," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

The play in question came with the score caught in a 6-6 deadlock in the eighth, when Indians reliever Scott Atchison squared off against Chicago veteran Paul Konerko. The 38-year-old slugger lofted a pitch to shallow center, where shortstop Jose Ramirez and second baseman Jason Kipnis convened well short of the fly ball.

Bourn got a good jump, staying low, sprinting in and diving forward to pluck the baseball from the air before it dropped to the grass. Francona was blown away by the play, which proved key in the Indians being able to keep the score knotted en route to an 8-6 win in 10 innings.

"I should've brought that up last night after the game," Francona said on Wednesday. "That might've been one of the plays of the game. Who knows what they can do [if it's a hit]? They can pinch-run. That was leadoff and that was Atch's last hitter. ... When the ball left his bat, I was like, 'Dang, man. Runner on first at worst.'

"I was looking at our middle infielders, because I knew they couldn't get there. [Bourn] came out of nowhere. And if you look at the jump, he got really low. If he stands up on that ball, he never gets it. He stayed low. That was a really good play."

Bourn was shelved from July 6-Aug. 15 with a left hamstring injury, marking the third setback with the same hamstring this season. It is also the same one he had surgically repaired last October. The diving catch on Tuesday night showed clearly that the center fielder is feeling like his old self again for Cleveland.

"He's a pretty darned good outfielder," Francona said. "That ball, he had no chance unless he did everything fundamentally perfect. ... I think he did such a good job on his rehab and, to be honest with you, before he hurt it again, he was doing fine. It just happened."


Kluber loses battle with White Sox rookie Abreu

Right-hander gives up three hits, two RBIs to slugger

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CHICAGO -- It was a pairing of power: one of the American League's best pitchers in Cleveland's Corey Kluber and one of the game's top sluggers in Chicago's Jose Abreu. This is what the fans came to see on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

In the seventh inning, a tiring Kluber encountered Abreu with the game in the balance. Not many hitters can claim to have had the right-hander's number this season, but Kluber has found himself a foe. The pitcher went on the attack, but Abreu came out on top, delivering the decisive blow in the Indians' 3-2 loss to the White Sox.

"A lot of respect goes to him," Abreu said. "He's one of the better pitchers in the Major Leagues I've faced."

The defeat was only the fifth in the past 15 games for Cleveland, which is trying desperately to chase down first-place Kansas City and second-place Detroit in the American League Central. The Indians dropped to 6 1/2 back of the Royals in the division, but remain 4 1/2 games back of the AL's second Wild Card.

Abreu shot a cutter from Kluber past the mound and into center field for a run-scoring single to put Chicago ahead for good in the seventh. With the hit -- the third of the night for the rookie -- Abreu improved his average to .462 (6-for-13) on the season against Kluber, who has developed into the leader of Cleveland's rotation and an AL Cy Young contender.

Asked about Abreu's success, Kluber allowed himself to crack a smile.

"He does good against a lot of people, if you look at his numbers," Kluber said. "He's a good hitter. He covers a lot of pitches, so you've just got to kind of mix it up on him. Even when you make some good pitches, sometimes good hitters are able to get their hits."

Complicating matters on Wednesday night was a lack of run support for Kluber (13-8), who has had his team score three or fewer runs in six of his past seven starts. This time around, Cleveland's lineup was quieted for much of the evening by White Sox righty Hector Noesi, who limited the Indians to a pair of runs in his seven innings.

Kluber picked up a hard-luck loss after being charged with three runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, ending with eight strikeouts and two walks. He became the first Indians pitcher since 1970 (Sam McDowell) to notch at least 17 games with at least eight strikeouts in a season, and climbed to 19th on Cleveland's all-time single-season strikeout list with 213.

The low offensive output magnified Kluber's few mistakes.

"If we score five or six," Indians manager Terry Francona said, "we're talking about him cruising."

Considering how dominant Kluber has been all season for Cleveland, he should be forgiven for a lapse here and there. Kluber's first setback in Chicago came in the form of a 32-pitch third inning that gave the White Sox their first lead of the night.

Chicago began its attack with a one-out triple from Adam Eaton, who shot a pitch from Kluber into the right-field corner to allow time for the three-base sprint. Two batters later, Abreu drove an offering up the middle for a two-out single that easily scored Eaton to pull the contest into a 1-1 deadlock.

That effectively erased Michael Bourn's RBI single off Noesi in the top of the third.

Abreu's first hit set things up for Adam Dunn, who crushed a 1-2 sinker on a line to deep center field, where Cleveland outfielder Michael Bourn could not run it down. Abreu scored from first base to push the Indians behind, 2-1, and the White Sox went on to load the bases. Kluber escaped further damage by inducing an inning-ending groundout off the bat of Tyler Flowers.

"I thought [Kluber's] stuff was really good and he worked ahead really well," Francona said. "He just made some mistakes when he was ahead in the count. A number of the guys who got the key hits, he had them down in the count."

From there, Kluber settled down, and Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall did his part by belting a game-tying home run off Noesi in the top of the seventh inning. The blast was the 12th for Chisenhall, who sent a 3-2 pitch darting just over the wall down the right-field line.

In the home half of the seventh, Chicago's Carlos Sanchez opened with a single to right, and Eaton followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Kluber then induced a chopper to Chisenhall, who fired a strike to catcher Roberto Perez to cut down Sanchez at the plate. The out was confirmed following a brief crew-chief review.

That brought Abreu to the plate with Kluber at 110 pitches, runners on the corners, Dunn looming on deck and the game caught in a 2-2 tie with one out.

"That's a tough situation," Francona said. "[Abreu] has hit into a number of double plays. But he's a really good hitter. It's tough -- really tough. ... If we walk him there, it's not the end of the world."

Abreu tormented the pitcher once again with the game-winning hit.

"He's a good hitter," Perez said of Abreu. "He beat us today."

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Kluber miffed by post-review denial of warmup pitches

Following short review of play at the plate, umps say no to request

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CHICAGO -- The Indians had no qualms about White Sox manager Robin Ventura requesting a crew-chief review on an out at the plate on Wednesday night. After all, the seventh-inning play was confirmed following a brief look at the instant-replay footage.

What bothered Cleveland was the fact that starting pitcher Corey Kluber was not allowed to throw a handful of warmup pitches after the review concluded. Both home-plate umpire Rob Drake and crew chief Joe West denied Kluber's request.

"That was disappointing," Indians manager Terry Francona said after the 3-2 loss to the White Sox. "At that point in the game, Klubes doesn't know how long they're going to be over there, so he doesn't want to keep throwing [during the review], because he was at a pretty high pitch count.

"I didn't think a couple of pitches would make the crowd go away. I thought some common sense would have prevailed a little bit."

The play in question came up with no outs and runners on second and third base for Chicago in the seventh inning. With the game stuck in a 2-2 tie, Kluber induced a chopper off the bat of Alexei Ramirez to Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who gloved the grounder and fired a strike to catcher Roberto Perez.

After receiving the ball -- with plenty of time to retire Carlos Sanchez at the plate -- Perez appeared to be blocking the runner's path. The rookie catcher quickly took a step in front of the dish before then stepping back toward Sanchez in order to apply the tag.

Sanchez was ruled out, but Ventura wanted the umpires to check to see if Perez provided a lane to the plate. If it was deemed through a review that the catcher blocked the plate unnecessarily, Sanchez would have been ruled safe, giving the White Sox the go-ahead run.

Managers still feel there is a lot of gray area involved in the rules involving plays at the plate.

"It's always up for interpretation," Ventura said. "So, hopefully, something gets done there."

Perez was surprised that the play was reviewed at all, considering the runner was still several steps from home when the catcher had the ball.

"Yeah, I was," Perez said. "I even asked the umpire, 'If I catch the ball first, can I go at him?' He said, 'Yeah, you can.' But, I gave him the lane. I was surprised they [reviewed] the play. That was the first time in my career that happened to me."

What happened next is what miffed Kluber.

The pitcher has been on the mound for a handful of replay reviews, including one that lasted a few minutes in the eighth inning of his Aug. 15 start against the Orioles. Given the unpredictability of the length of any given review, the pitcher has developed a routine in which he warms up after the conclusion of the delay.

"If it's one of those four- or five-minute replays," Kluber explained, "what's the point of throwing as soon as they go over there and put the headset on? I've had instances where I've been out there this year and they're standing out there for three, four, five minutes. Am I just supposed to figure out how long a replay is going to take? I'm not even sure why they looked at that play, to be honest."

When Wednesday's review wrapped up after a quick 48-second conference with the Replay Operations Center in New York, Kluber asked to throw a few warmup pitches. Drake informed the pitcher that he should have done that during the review. Kluber then checked with West, but the pitcher was instructed to take the mound in order to resume the game.

"I understand that replay is part of the game now," Kluber said. "Tonight, I don't get the whole making-up-rules-as-we-go thing. Every other time I've been out there for a replay, I've waited until they finish the replay and then have thrown a couple pitches. All of a sudden, tonight I'm told that you're only allowed to throw pitches while they're reviewing the play.

"If the umpires are making up stuff as we're going, then the system needs to be looked at, I think."

The next batter, Jose Abreu, delivered an RBI single that helped the White Sox to the win.

Kluber did not blame the replay situation for allowing that costly hit.

"No, it didn't affect me," Kluber said. "I just made a couple mistakes tonight."

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Francona keeping close eye on Gomes

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CHICAGO -- Indians catcher Yan Gomes will be eligible to come off Major League Baseball's seven-day concussion list on Friday in Kansas City. Manager Terry Francona has a feeling Gomes will be doing everything he can to be activated that night.

"I'd be surprised if he's not raring to go," Francona said on Tuesday.

Prior to the opener of Cleveland's three-game series against the White Sox, Gomes did some running and pregame hitting as part of his progression to full activities. Francona noted that the catcher looked and felt improved since suffering a mild concussion on Thursday in Minnesota.

Gomes was struck in the side of the mask by a pitch that deflected off Minnesota batter Kurt Suzuki. Cleveland's starting catcher was placed on MLB's seven-day list on Saturday, pushing rookie Roberto Perez into the lead role.

Francona was encouraged by Gomes' progress on Tuesday.

"He's having a really good day," said the manager. "Even when I saw him in the lobby this morning, he looks a lot clearer in his eyes. He's done and will do more today. ... Friday's his day. Unless he has a setback somewhere -- which it doesn't look like he [will] -- he'll probably be ready to go."

Through 109 games this season, Gomes has hit .284 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs. Gomes has been one of Cleveland's hottest hitters in the second half, posting a .351 average to go along with five home runs, nine doubles, 17 RBIs and a .974 OPS through 29 games.

To help the depth behind Perez, the Indians acquired veteran catcher Chris Gimenez from the Rangers on Sunday in exchange for future considerations. Francona noted that he has not decided yet whether Gimenez will start a game during the current series.

"Because of his versatility, having him on the bench is pretty helpful," Francona said. "And he doesn't know our pitchers yet that much, but he could start a game. We'll see."


Walters' 10th-inning HR helps Tribe keep pace

Shaw dominates in relief as Indians remain 5 1/2 back in AL Central

Walters' 10th-inning HR helps Tribe keep pace play video for Walters' 10th-inning HR helps Tribe keep pace

CHICAGO -- The idea in a marathon is to maintain a steady pace, conserving energy for the last segment of the race. Cleveland has accomplished that to this point by hovering around the break-even mark and staying within range of the leaders in the postseason picture.

The time has come for the Indians to reach down and find another gear.

On Tuesday night, Cleveland began a daunting run of 30 games in 30 days that will most likely serve as a make-or-break stretch on the schedule. The Indians opened the final sprint with a seesaw affair on the South Side of Chicago, where rookie Zach Walters delivered a two-run home run in the 10th inning to lead the Tribe to an 8-6 victory.

Reliever Bryan Shaw shut the door in the bottom of the 10th, finishing off a spectacular outing. He threw 2 1/3 perfect innings with three strikeouts.

"We know exactly where we are," Indians starter T.J. House said. "And we know that we have to turn it on at this moment in time if we expect to catch anyone, whether it's the Wild Card or division. But, I don't think we're pushing or forcing anything.

"I definitely think we're more relaxed than at any point in the season since I've been up here. Guys are having fun and you see the results that are happening right now."

It marked the 10th win in the past 14 games for Cleveland, helping the club hold its ground (5 1/2 games back) in the American League Central, as both the first-place Royals and second-place Tigers won Tuesday, too. In order for the Tribe to get where it wants to go, taking care of business against a Chicago team that sits further down in the standings is essential.

With the win, Cleveland (67-63) also moved four games over .500 for the first time this season.

The Indians' offense overcame an abbreviated outing from House as Chicago countered throughout the night.

"They came right back, but then we came right back," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And they kept doing that, but we kept scoring or trying to score, at least giving ourselves a chance. The way we've pitched lately, it was nice to see the hitters kind of pick us up a little bit."

House allowed no more than three earned runs in his previous eight starts, posting a 3.07 ERA. This time around, the rookie southpaw did not fare as well and was charged with five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings by the time the fireworks smoke cleared after Alexei Ramirez's two-run home run in the fifth.

The White Sox struck for two runs in the first inning and added three more in the fifth, when Ramirez's shot to left sent House to the showers and put the Indians behind, 5-4.

"We never once felt like we were down," Walters said.

Against lefty Jose Quintana, though, the Indians had plenty of answers early on. A four-hit first inning -- that opened with a double off the chalk line in left field by Michael Bourn -- paved the way to a 3-0 lead for the Tribe. Cleveland tacked on another run in the second (courtesy of an RBI double from Michael Brantley) and had a little help from Chicago's defense in the sixth.

With runners on first and second base -- both the responsibility of Quintana -- Roberto Perez shot a single up the middle against reliever Matt Lindstrom. Center fielder Adam Eaton misplayed the ball on a hop and watched it skip away deep in the outfield. The Indians scored two runs on the play to steal a 6-5 lead.

Quintana was charged with six runs on nine hits in his five-plus innings.

The Indians' lead was short-lived, though.

In the seventh inning, Tyler Flowers led off with a single to left against Cleveland reliever Scott Atchison and advanced to second on a base hit from Carlos Sanchez. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice by Eaton, setting up a game-tying groundout from Ramirez.

In the top of the final frame, Lonnie Chisenhall led off with a pinch-hit double against Jake Petricka, who then watched Walters misfire on a bunt attempt in a 2-1 count. Walters had been instructed to do whatever he could to move the runner to third base, and the rookie came up empty after deciding to bunt on his own.

"I promise, I'm a good bunter," Walters said.

The mistake was forgotton in the end.

"Fortunately, he didn't get the bunt down," Francona said with a smirk.

Walters recovered by sending a 3-2 pitch clanking off the seats in the right-field stands for a two-run home run. The decisive blast was Walters' team-leading sixth since he was promoted from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 10, and each of those shots have either tied a game or given Cleveland a lead.

Asked about his knack for well-time homers, Walters smiled.

"It's for the kids," he quipped. "I eat my spinach and I drink milk. That's the only reason why."

Beginning this stretch of 30 games with an extra-inning tilt was not ideal, but no one in Cleveland's clubhouse was complaining.

"As long as you hear the music playing, that's OK," Francona said.


Murphy making progress, makes trip

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CHICAGO -- David Murphy was not going to be cleared to travel again with the Indians until he was able to resume baseball activities. The outfielder's presence in the visiting clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field on Tuesday was a clear indicator of the progress he has made behind the scenes.

Murphy, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 10 with a strained right oblique, took 45 swings off a tee on Tuesday and said he is feeling great. The sidelined outfielder indicated that he still feels some discomfort early in his workouts, but the pain goes away after he stretches and gets warmed up.

"I'm making progress," Murphy said. "I think, more than anything, I'm starting to do baseball activities more and more. Once I got to that point, they said I could travel. I still don't know exctly where I'm at in terms of how close I am to a rehab assignment."

Indians manager Terry Francona said the timing of a Minor League rehab assignment could be tricky, because the season is ending for most of Cleveland's affiliates. Triple-A Columbus, however, does have a postseason approaching.

Francona said he has been impressed with how Murphy has attacked his rehab.

"He's doing OK," Francona said. "He's going to continue to ramp up his swings this week. He's been so diligent, but you can't push it. ... He works out in the morning, he brings his kid in and does all his stuff, and then he stays for the game -- all things that probably aren't shocking. It's why it's easy to have so much respect for him. I think he's coming quick, which is good."

Through 109 games this season, Murphy has hit .262 with seven home runs, 21 doubles, 55 RBIs and 36 runs scored.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Indians sending catcher Wolters, four others to AFL

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CHICAGO -- Indians third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh does not have to look too far to spot three of the players he managed in the Arizona Fall League four years ago.

Second baseman Jason Kipnis, lefty Marc Rzepczynski and catcher Roberto Perez suited up for Sarbaugh with the Peoria Javelinas in October 2010. Kipnis has since developed into an All-Star for the Indians, Rzepczynski is a key part of the Tribe's bullpen and Perez is serving as the backup catcher.

"It's kind of fun for me to see where they were at that point," Sarbaugh said, "and now to see what they've done with their careers."

On Tuesday, the AFL revealed rosters for this coming season and Cleveland will be sending catcher Tony Wolters, outfielder Jordan Smith and pitchers Louis Head, Dylan Baker and Nick Maronda to Peoria. Joining the Javelinas' staff will be Double-A Akron manager Dave Wallace (coach) and Class A Advanced athletic trainer Bobby Ruiz.

The 22-year-old Wolters could be considered the top prospect among the group being sent by the Indians. Wolters, ranked No. 18 among Indians prospects by MLB.com, was selected in the third round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft as a middle infielder, but has spent the past two years transitioning to catcher. Through 94 games for Akron this year, he has hit .249 with 18 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs, throwing out 47-percent of would-be stealers with no errors behind the plate.

"I think one way [the AFL] helps," Sarbaugh said, "you read so much about players, but getting to play them and getting that sense of, 'You know what? I know I can play with these guys.' I think that helps the guys that maybe don't have the big names to go in there and make an impact."

Smith, 24, has hit .247 with 27 extra-base hits and 47 RBIs in 121 games for Akron. The 24-year-old Head has a 2.85 ERA with 12 saves through 44 relief appearances between Carolina and Akron this season. Baker, 22, has missed most of this season due to a left fibula fracture and Maronde was acquired from the Angels in exchange for cash or a player to be named on July 12.

Sarbaugh said that adding a month to a player's season is also a good learning experience.

"They get to go home for a little while and it can be tough to get started again," Sarbaugh said. "But I definitely think that helps prepare them for that longer season, keeping their body in shape and dealing with the mental grind of it. That's a big part of it, too."

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Inbox: Should Tribe seek help for rotation?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers Indians fans' questions

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I have concerns about the Indians' rotation next season. I understand who they have, but I don't think it's World Series material. Any idea of who the Tribe might be interested in via trade or free agency?
-- Rex H., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Let's let the Indians worry about simply making the postseason before we start jumping ahead to forecasting the club's potential World Series rotation. That said, I get your point. The current group is young (25.2 years old on average) and has certainly endured some drastic peaks and valleys this season.

Perhaps the current quintet is better than you think, though.

Strictly looking at starting numbers, the group consisting of Corey Kluber (186 1/3 innings), Trevor Bauer (118 1/3), Danny Salazar (73 2/3), T.J. House (65 1/3) and Carlos Carrasco (40) has combined to go 26-26 with a 3.52 ERA, 3.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 1.26 WHIP and 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings this season.

American League rotations as a whole have posted a .502 winning percentage to go along with a 4.01 ERA, 2.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 1.31 WHIP and 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Granted, Kluber's incredible season improves the overall numbers of the current group, but the fact remains that the Indians are now using a staff that has been better than league average.

Entering Monday's off-day, the Indians' rotation -- including one spot start from Josh Tomlin -- had turned in a 1.71 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP and a .176 opponents' average over the team's past 13 games.

What is even more incredible about the overall numbers is that the statistical line turned in by those five arms includes awful opening acts by Carrasco (0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in his first four starts) and Salazar (0-3 with a 7.85 ERA in his first four starts), plus some growing pains from House (two starts with at least five earned runs) and Bauer (5.40 ERA in the first inning).

With an emerging ace in Kluber, and given Cleveland's financial limitations, I doubt the club would break the bank on a blockbuster free agent such as Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields this offseason. The group in place gives the Tribe a solid foundation, but veteran leadership is certainly a consideration. Second-tier arms like Josh Beckett, Brandon McCarthy or Jason Hammel might fit the mold.

With Carlos Santana now at first base, where does Nick Swisher fit next year? Full-time designated hitter? Part-time right fielder? And what happens with David Murphy and Ryan Raburn?
-- @DPCummerbund (via Twitter)

Santana has played great at first, loves being in the field and believes the move has helped his offense. That would indeed seemingly leave Swisher mostly in a DH role going forward. General manager Chris Antonetti recently floated the idea of working Swisher out as an outfielder next spring, but the team will need to see how he is moving following operations on both knees last week. Murphy is signed to be the right fielder for 2015, and Raburn projects to return as a utility man off the bench.

What kind of impact can Swisher have on this ballclub going forward? He has underperformed.
-- Brandon B., Hilliard, Ohio

For one brilliant stretch at the end of 2013, Swisher showed his potential and value. Over Cleveland's final 23 games, he posted a .968 OPS, launched seven homers and compiled 17 RBIs to help the club capture a Wild Card spot. That's one month out of 11 since he's been with the Indians. It is fair to note that Swisher has dealt with a pile of injuries (left shoulder, knees, right wrist) in his two seasons with the Tribe. If he can get healthy, and stay healthy, his career track record clearly shows the kind of contributor he can be for a team. Cleveland is waiting to see it.

How do you expect the Indians to address their woeful defense next season?
-- Tom W., Lincoln, Neb.

Heading into Monday's action, Cleveland led the Majors with 100 errors on the season. That's more than the team had in all of 2013. The Indians should benefit from having Santana at first, and Jose Ramirez has displayed strong range since taking over at shortstop. Highly touted shortstop prospect  Francisco Lindor is waiting in the wings, too. Second baseman Jason Kipnis (negative 15.8 UZR/150) and third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (negative 24 UZR/150) need to show improvement next season. Kipnis isn't going anywhere, but Cleveland might consider alternatives for third base over the winter.

How long are the core players under control?
-- Vince C., Willoughby Hills, Ohio

That's kind of a broad question, but I'd guess you're thinking of these players: Santana (signed through 2016, with a club option for '17); Chisenhall (under control through 2017); Michael Brantley (signed through 2017, with a club option for '18); Kluber (under control through 2018); Cody Allen (under control through 2018); Bauer (under control through 2019); Salazar (under control through 2019); Kipnis (signed through 2019, with a club option for '20); and Yan Gomes (signed through 2019, with club options for '20 and '21).

When is Lindor coming to the big leagues?
-- Frank L., Montreal

I can't have an Inbox without fielding this question. The answer remains unchanged from the last time I addressed it. The 20-year-old Lindor (the Indians' top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft) is still getting his feet wet in Triple-A. If he joins the Indians this season, it would be after rosters expand on Sept. 1.

Where is League Park?
-- Jared C. (via Twitter)

Located at the corner of E. 66th St. and Lexington Ave., League Park was the original home of Cleveland's AL franchise. The Tribe stopped playing there in 1946, and it was no longer used for sports events after 1950. On Saturday, League Park was reopened to the public. It is now a multiuse park for the Hough neighborhood, with the field restored to its original dimensions. In the old ticket house is the Baseball Heritage Museum. I got to see the new facilities this past weekend, and it's definitely worth checking out.

In closing ...

If you had to create a hypothetical trade for Mike Trout between the Indians and Angels, what would it be? Something like Lindor, Salazar and Carlos Moncrief?
-- Danny K., Cleveland

If you go into your settings in the video game you're playing, I think you can turn off the fair trades feature and acquire Trout for any player you'd like to give up. In the real world, it's not happening.


Gimenez happy to be back with Tribe

Gimenez happy to be back with Tribe

CLEVELAND -- Things have changed a lot in the Indians' clubhouse since the last time Chris Gimenez had a locker in the room.

The catcher looked around on Sunday morning and saw players he once knew only as prospects. These days, those kids have developed into leaders for a Cleveland club that is fighting for a playoff spot, rather than playing out the string.

"This is definitely a destination where a lot of people want to come," Gimenez said. "I was here through the rough parts of it. It's actually pretty cool. Guys like [Jason] Kipnis and [Lonnie] Chisenhall, those are younger guys who, when I was here, were just breaking in."

Gimenez -- acquired from the Rangers in exchange for future considerations on Saturday -- was officially recalled from Triple-A Columbus prior to Sunday's game against the Astros. He will serve as the backup catcher to rookie Roberto Perez, while starting catcher Yan Gomes resides on Major League Baseball's 7-day concussion list.

The 31-year-old Gimenez, who played for the Indians during the 2009-10 seasons when Cleveland lost a combined 190 games, was happy to be back with his first organization. Over parts of six seasons in the big leagues, the catcher has posted a .215 average at the plate and a 26-percent caught-stealing rate behind it, during stints with Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Texas.

In 34 big league games this season, Gimenez hit .262 for the Rangers. He was most recently with Triple-A Round Rock, where he hit .283 with six home runs, 22 RBIs and an .843 OPS in 39 games. Gimenez had to fly from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles on Saturday, where he caught a red-eye flight to Detroit, where he hopped on a flight to Cleveland to arrive on Sunday morning.

"It was a rough night," Gimenez said with a laugh. "I'm willing to help in any way possible. I'll do whatever I can do -- play wherever, talk to whomever. That's the fun part of it now for me, just getting a chance to come back here and reconnect with some guys -- and having a chance to do whatever I can do to help."

Indians manager Terry Francona said Gimenez has been targeted by the Tribe since last winter.

"His reputation in the organization is so good," Francona said. "It was kind of a no-brainer. ... To get him over here, we were really thrilled. I don't know him very well, but I feel like I do."


Bauer handcuffs Astros to give Tribe series

Right-hander fans nine over six-plus scoreless frames for fifth win

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CLEVELAND -- The crowd inside Progressive Field rose to its feet and grew louder as Trevor Bauer headed off the mound in the seventh inning on Sunday. Before disappearing down the dugout steps, the young pitcher answered the show of appreciation with a quick lift of his hat.

Cleveland's rotation has provided plenty of reason for the fans to cheer of late. Building on the recent work of his fellow starters, Bauer turned in a strong performance against the Astros to guide the Tribe to a 3-1 victory at Progressive Field.

"It's been unbelievable," Bauer said of the Tribe's rotation. "Every day, you run a new guy out there and have this feeling that he's going to post a really good start and we're going to win the game. It's nice to have that confidence as a team every day."

The Indians (66-63) have now captured three consecutive series wins and have won or split seven of their past eight series. Across that stretch, pitching has been the primary component that has kept the club on the edge of the postseason picture.

Dating back to Aug. 9, Cleveland has won nine of 13 games, during which the team's rotation has turned in a 1.71 ERA, .176 opponents' batting average and 0.90 WHIP. Over 79 combined innings in that period, Bauer (three starts), Corey Kluber (three), Carlos Carrasco (three), Danny Salazar (two), T.J. House (one) and Josh Tomlin (one) have piled up 87 strikeouts against 22 walks.

The Indians understand that their pitching has the potential to help the team climb in both the American League Central and Wild Card standings.

"We haven't been scoring a ton of runs," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And we've won a couple series in a row because of [our pitching]. The hope is the pitching stays strong, we start scoring a few more runs and we stretch a couple of games out."

Bauer has alternated between solid outings and rocky ones over his last seven turns, allowing five runs in three starts during that stretch. Against the Astros, who have featured one of the AL's top offenses in the second half, the right-hander found a rhythm and worked one batter into the seventh inning before bowing out to cheers from the Cleveland faithful.

Offensively, the Indians did just enough against Astros lefty Brett Oberholtzer to help Bauer's showing hold up.

Carlos Santana provided a sacrifice fly in the third inning, Lonnie Chisenhall contributed an RBI single in the fourth and Jose Ramirez drove in a run with a single in the seventh. That was all Oberholtzer allowed in his 6 2/3 innings for Houston, but it was sufficient for Bauer to collect his fifth victory of the season for the Tribe.

"Obie did a good job," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He did a good job battling and had us right there in the ballgame."

In his scoreless outing, Bauer struck out nine, scattered four hits and walked three in a 115-pitch effort. During the first inning of his previous start in Minnesota, Bauer surrendered five runs to the first five batters he encountered in the first inning. Since that ugly stretch, the righty has not allowed a run and held batters to a .114 (4-for-35) showing at the plate.

"I was trying to throw strikes," said Bauer, who had a 63-percent strike rate on the day. "That was kind of the focus all day long. It turned out well. I got away with a couple mistakes that helped out. The defense made some really nice plays that helped out, too."

Specifically, Indians rookie outfielder Tyler Holt came up big for Bauer in the field.

In the first, Holt -- manning right field on this afternoon -- made a spectacular diving grab to rob Marc Krauss of a potential run-scoring hit, ending the inning and stranding a runner on second. With a runner on first and no outs in the sixth, Holt made another diving catch in right to once again steal a hit away from Krauss.

"That was awesome," Bauer said. "I kind of felt bad for Marc. I played with Marc, too, in the Minor Leagues [with the D-backs]. He squared those two balls up and got robbed. It was definitely nice to be on the winning side of that exchange."

Holt did not feel too bad for Krauss.

"Not at all," Holt said with a laugh. "He got that last one and made things interesting. I was just playing 'D' and [trying to] help this team win."

Holt was referring to the eighth inning, when Krauss singled to left off Tribe reliever Bryan Shaw and then scored on a double by Jon Singleton, cutting Cleveland's lead to 3-1. Houston then loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but closer Cody Allen struck out Dexter Fowler to seal the win and notch his 17th save.

Once again, the Tribe's rotation led the way to the win column.

"We have our work cut out for us," Francona said. "But, if we pitch like that, we'll give ourselves a chance."

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Aguilar hits three-run walkoff on Monday

Indians' No. 10 prospect finished the night 5-for-6

Aguilar hits three-run walkoff on Monday play video for Aguilar hits three-run walkoff on Monday

First baseman Jesus Aguilar, the Indians No. 10 prospect, collected five hits and hit a three-run walk-off home run Monday to lead Triple-A Columbus to an 11-9 victory in 10 innings at home against Indianapolis.

Aguilar finished the night 5-for-6 with two doubles, a home run, three runs and four RBIs. His walk-off blast was the Clippers first since Aug. 2, 2011, when Luis Valbuena hit a game-winning home run.

Indians No. 1 prospect Francisco Lindor went 2-for-6 with a double and two runs. Center fielder James Ramsey, the club's No. 5 prospect, went 1-for-2 with a run and a walk before exiting the game after the eighth inning due to a knee contusion he suffered when he ran into the outfield wall.

Aguilar recorded a hit in each of his first four plate appearances, doubling in the first inning, singling in the third and fourth and doubling again in the sixth. In the eighth inning, he reached on an error, but was thrown out trying to advance to second.

Aguilar is hitting .302/.394./.504 and ranks fifth in the International League with 18 home runs in 113 games this season. He also was called up to the big leagues for the first time in May, appearing in eight games with the Indians.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Francona gives Brantley some well-deserved rest

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CLEVELAND -- If he were managing with his heart, Terry Francona would have left outfielder Michael Brantley's name in the starting lineup on Sunday. Cleveland's manager opted instead to go by what he has seen of late, and that led him to give Brantley a much-needed day off against Houston.

Francona expected to hear about it from some upset Tribe fans.

"[For] the people that send me the mail," Francona said, "I have thought this through."

Brantley was Cleveland's lone All-Star this summer, and has been unquestionably the most steady performer in the team's lineup all year. The outfielder dealt with leg soreness earlier this month, though, and has lagged in the batter's box over the past week.

Combined with Monday's off-day, the timing gives Brantley two days to rest and reset.

"I thought he needed it," Francona said. "That's a hard one for me, because he's so good. But I think you can make a mistake when you want a guy to desperately play because he's good, when you know darn right a day off would be in his best interest. That's kind of how I feel."

Through 123 games, Brantley has hit .311/.370/.499 with 18 home runs, 32 doubles, 80 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 78 runs and nearly as many walks (42) as strikeouts (45). After beginning August with a .396 (19-for-48) showing in his first 12 games, Brantley has slumped to the tune of an .077 (2-for-26) average in his last seven games, entering Sunday.

Francona feels it is simply a normal skid within a long season.

"I just don't know that you can hit the ball hard all the time," Francona said. "I think during the season you go through periods where, like in Minnesota [earlier this week], he took several good swings and fouled balls back. He just missed them. And then once you sometimes miss your pitch, then you're kind of in the hole."

In four of five games from Aug. 8-13, Francona used Brantley as a designated hitter to help the outfielder rest his sore legs. The manager does not think that is still much of an issue, right now.

"I think he's doing better," Francona said, "because we've asked him a number of times if he wanted to DH, and he goes, 'No, I'm OK to play the outfield.'"


Foul call upheld in Astros-Indians finale

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CLEVELAND -- Catcher Carlos Corporan, who led off the seventh inning of Sunday's game with the Astros down, 2-0, against the Indians, drove a pitch from Trevor Bauer high down the right-field line that appeared to possibly go over the foul pole.

The play was initially ruled foul, but Astros manager Bo Porter came out of the dugout and the umpires initiated a crew-chief review to determine whether it was a home run.

After a very brief review that only lasted 54 seconds, the call was confirmed. Corporan later walked in the at-bat.

{"content":["injury" ,"transactions" ] }

Indians place Gomes on 7-day DL, acquire Gimenez

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians hoped to avoid placing starting catcher Yan Gomes on the disabled list, but that step became necessary on Saturday.

Prior to their game against the Astros, the Indians placed Gomes on Major League Baseball's seven-day concussion list after the catcher still displayed some symptoms. The Tribe then added some depth behind the plate by acquiring catcher Chris Gimenez from the Rangers in exchange for future considerations.

"We just put [Gomes] on the seven-day disabled list," Indians manager Terry Francona said before Saturday's game. "He did some things today and just still feels some symptoms. This isn't something you can rush through."

The 27-year-old Gomes was struck in the left side of the mask on Thursday, when a pitch from Corey Kluber glanced off the left arm of Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki before hitting Gomes. The catcher finished that fifth inning, but he was then replaced behind the plate in the sixth by rookie catcher Roberto Perez.

Perez will serve as Cleveland's primary catcher for now, while Gimenez will slide into the backup role. The 31-year-old Gimenez also played for the Indians in parts of the 2009-10 seasons. He has hit .215 in 177 big league games between stints with Cleveland, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Texas. Gimenez hit .262 in 34 games this season for Texas.

Gomes said on Friday that he experienced dizziness shortly after being struck by the deflected pitch, but the catcher noted that he felt improvement. He was diagnosed with a mild concussion, but he was cleared for some light activities on Friday to see if there were any lingering issues.

"I think he actually had a really good day. He got a little bit active," Francona said. "This is just something that, it's not like a hamstring, where you can nurse it along or you can stretch. When you start messing around with somebody's head, you've got to adhere to the regulations.

"You just can't let a player that's willing to try to play do something he shouldn't do. That's just not right."

Through 109 games this season, Gomes has hit .284 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs. The catcher has been one of Cleveland's hottest hitters in the second half, posting a .351 average to go along with five home runs, nine doubles, 17 RBIs and a .974 OPS through 29 games.

{"content":["injury" ,"transactions" ] }

Baseball alive once more at Cleveland's League Park

Ceremony held Saturday to reopen historic ballpark

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CLEVELAND -- After putting the finishing touches on his collection of baseball artifacts, Bob Zimmer walked through the doors of the old ticket house and strolled through the plaza within the walls of Cleveland's League Park.

It was nearing midnight on Friday and Zimmer -- the founder of the Baseball Heritage Museum -- wanted to savor a dream turned reality. League Park, the former home of the Indians and the Buckeyes of the Negro League, had emerged from decades of decay and was once again a beautiful sight to behold.

"I was the only one here," Zimmer said. "It was just me and the field and all the energy. It was just unbelievable. It made me feel fantastic. I'm in heaven. We're in a magical location now, and it's like heaven."

Baseball was alive again at the corner of E. 66th St. and Lexington Ave. on Saturday.

With a group of dignitaries on hand, and a considerable crowd in attendance on a sun-splashed afternoon, the city of Cleveland held a ceremony to reopen League Park in the East Side's Hough neighborhood. A group of children strolled through the gates, walking under the park's bright new sign, carrying a banner to begin the grand opening.

The Indians were represented by former outfielder Andre Thornton, who served as a master of ceremonies, and by former designated hitter Travis Hafner, who put on a power display during a home run derby. Team president Mark Shapiro was also on hand, smiling as he watched fans flock to the site for the day's events.

"One of the separators for Cleveland baseball is the tradition and the history," Shapiro said. "So, to see this organically where it belongs, restored to this level of a pristine facility, is a tribute to the city and all the people that were behind making it a reality.

"To know that baseball is going to be played here by kids, on the exact same ground that Hall of Famers played, is an incredible thing."

League Park originally opened in on May 1, 1891, when Cy Young fired the first pitch for the Cleveland Spiders in a contest against the Cincinnati Redlegs. Cleveland began playing at the ballpark as an American League club in 1901 and remained until moving to Cleveland Municipal Stadium on a full-time basis after the 1946 season.

Addie Joss threw a perfect game against the White Sox at League Park in 1908, Elmer Smith belted the first grand slam in World Series history there in 1920 and a 17-year-old Bob Feller toed the rubber in the big leagues for the first time at the stadium in 1936. The Cleveland Buckeyes won the Negro League World Series there in 1945.

In 1929, Babe Ruth settled into the left-handed batter's box, scorched a pitch to Lexington Ave. and collected his 500th home run. The last hit in Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak also took place at League Park, which closed its doors to professional baseball after 1950.

With League Park's quirky dimensions restored -- 385 feet down the left-field line, more than 460 feet to dead center and just 290 down the right-field line -- Hafner donned a 1920s-era Cleveland uniform, stood where Ruth stood and launched some home runs for the fans. He finished with nine shots to Lexington Ave., with a handful clearing the 45-foot-tall fence down the right-field line.

"I was really unaware of the history of this ballpark until this week," Hafner said. "Just learning about a lot of the great things that happened here, and all the history, it was pretty special to be out here today. It's a really big park."

Told that the 45-foot wall used to extend even further toward center field, Hafner laughed.

"That would've been, 'Good luck with that,'" he said.

Following Hafner's show, a Cleveland R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) youth team took the field.

The $6.3 million restoration project made the new park the first Major League field restored for the purpose of community use. As a result of multiple community meetings with input from people from the Hough neighborhood, there is a walking track around the park and a splash area for kids, among other amenities.

Late councilwoman Fannie. M. Lewis was also honored with a statue, considering her role in originally pushing for the project.

The playing surface is made up of FieldTurf to help with other events besides baseball. There is an auxiliary building on the grounds with the original dugout steps intact inside. An original wall along E. 66th St. still stands with artwork of baseball greats on display. The old ticket house is now home to Zimmer's Baseball Heritage Museum (founded in 1997).

"Cleveland has a lot of historical assets," Cleveland mayor Frank G. Jackson said. "The purpose of maintaining them is so that we can know who we are. It's important to know who we are, and it's important for us to know what we're about today and where we want to go in the future.

"An investment in this park, in this neighborhood, is a recognition of the greatness of Hough and the greatness of this asset, League Park, and what it has meant to Major League Baseball and the old Negro League."

Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' vice president of public affairs, was involved in the process to help with the historical elements of the reimagined facility.

"It's a special day. There's no question," DiBiasio said. "It's our first home, so of course we wanted to be involved. We played a role of just being a helping hand throughout the process, providing the historical context to it all. Obviously, moving forward, the city looks at this as a renaissance for the neighborhood."

Zimmer certainly feels a sense of responsibility in that regard.

"Now, we're sort of the caretakers," he said. "My hope is that, not only is this going to continue to get people interested in baseball, but this should be a catalyst for redevelopment in the Hough neighborhood."

{"content":["walkoff" ] }

Ramirez delivers Tribe's 10th walk-off vs. Astros

Salazar fans seven as Indians keep pace in Wild Card race

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians are attempting to simultaneously develop young players and remain in postseason contention. That is a tricky approach, because with youth often comes growing pains, and that can lead to some gut-punch losses for a team trying to stay afloat. Then again, it can also lead to some wild wins.

In a 3-2 victory over the Astros on Saturday night, Danny Salazar provided a solid start and Cleveland's kids were instrumental in leading the club to its American League-leading 10th walk-off win of the season. Tyler Holt ignited the rally with a pinch-hit single, Roberto Perez kept it going with a key bunt and Jose Ramirez launched the fireworks with a game-winning single to left field.

"With the youth, you need some patience," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But we're also seeing what they can do."

During Spring Training, those three names were not high on the list of players thought to be in position to be key contributors to a possible playoff run. Yet, here are the Indians, leaning on their farm system in light of injuries and inconsistencies at the Major League level. And, here the Indians remain, within earshot of the AL playoff picture just five games back of the second Wild Card spot.

The rookies are enjoying the chance to learn on the fly.

"It's a lot of fun," Holt said. "But I don't think we're letting it get stressful. I think we understand that we're here for a reason. They called us up here for a reason, because they believe we can do it. I think 'Berto and myself and the guys we've called up, we fit in perfectly and we understand our roles."

For Holt, Saturday was a night of redemption.

In the eighth inning of Friday's 5-1 loss to Houston, Holt was thrown out on an ill-advised steal attempt of third with Perez at the plate, expediting the end of a potential rally. Speed is an integral ingredient to Holt's game, and Francona made sure the young outfielder did not change his ways in light of one mistake.

Francona liked the gamble, but Holt needed to know he could pull it off.

"I think he's a strong enough kid," Francona said. "We talked to him a little bit today. The one thing is, it was a good time to run. We just want to make sure they don't get gun shy."

Holt appreciated that message.

"He said he didn't want me looking over my shoulder and having my left foot on the bag," Holt said. "There's a reason why I'm here. It's because I'm aggressive. That's who I am."

In the ninth inning on Saturday, Holt was summoned off the bench at the last minute with Astros lefty Tony Sipp on the mound and the game caught in a 2-2 deadlock. Houston manager Bo Porter countered with righty reliever Jake Buchanan, who saw his first pitch ripped up the middle and into center by Holt for a leadoff single.

Holt sprinted to second on a successful sacrifice bunt from Perez and then bolted to third on a wild pitch. That set things up for Ramirez, who slapped a 3-2 offering from Buchanan down the left-field line to plate Holt and set off the on-field party. Ramirez was mobbed behind the mound and drenched with water by his teammates.

"I wasn't trying to do too much," Ramirez said with Perez handling the translating. "I was trying to put the ball in play and trying to make contact. It feels awesome. I never had a walk-off before, so I'm really happy."

The happy feelings helped cancel out some fundamental missteps.

In six innings, Salazar only yielded two runs (one earned), but both came on a mistake-laden play in the third. With runners on first and second, a single to right by Jose Altuve set off the circus music. Right fielder Chris Dickerson threw wildly to the plate and Salazar forgot to hustle to foul ground to back up Perez, leading to two runs.

The error was Cleveland's Major League-leading 100th of the season.

"He's young," Francona said of Salazar, who struck out seven and walked two in a no-decision. "He didn't back up the plate and that cost him, probably, a win. The way that we're playing games right now, we need to respect every, not only run, but every out. We've got to pay attention to every detail."

The Tribe began to chip into Houston's lead in the third inning, when Ramirez doubled off Astros starter Collin McHugh, then scored on an RBI single from Michael Brantley. One frame later, Lonnie Chisenhall singled against McHugh and was eventually brought home from third on a groundout by Michael Bourn, pulling the game into a 2-2 tie.

After Altuve's run-scoring single, Salazar and Cleveland's bullpen held the Astros to an 0-for-19 showing over a 21-batter stretch.

That set the stage for the kids.

"We're just out here helping," Holt said. "And trying to win."

{"content":["walkoff" ] }
{"content":["injury" ] }

Injured Raburn, Giambi nearing rehab games

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CLEVELAND -- The Indians' bench produced at a high level last season, becoming known in Cleveland as the "Goon Squad." The group has not been the same this year without the same kind of contributions from veterans Ryan Raburn and Jason Giambi.

Raburn has dealt with a right wrist issue for most of the season and was scheduled to begin a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. Giambi has spent the bulk of this year on the disabled list and could begin his own rehab assignment next week. Both Raburn and Giambi could be activated after Sept. 1, when rosters expand.

If the pair was healthy all season, perhaps the Tribe would be in a different position.

"I'm not sure how you know," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "You don't know what a guy's going to hit."

The Indians do know what they have missed from the 33-year-old Raburn, who was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. In 70 games this year, he has hit .191 with three home runs and 21 RBIs, including a .181 average (.550 OPS) against left-handers. In 87 games in 2013, Raburn hit .272 overall with 16 homers, 55 RBIs and a .901 OPS, including a 1.020 OPS off lefties.

Not having that same weapon against left-handed pitchers has hurt Cleveland.

"He was such a force last year," Francona said. "There were plenty of games where he was hitting cleanup and having cleanup numbers. I think he had a .900-something OPS. And, again, you can't put it on one guy -- that's not fair -- but it was such a luxury when you had a bench player doing the damage that he was doing."

Raburn (eligible for activation on Sept. 2) is currently scheduled to play around seven Minor League games, according to Francona.

Giambi, whose latest DL stint began on June 12 due to a left knee issue, has only appeared in 15 games this season, hitting .128 with two homers in 47 at-bats. The 43-year-old designated hitter hit only .183 last season, but he posted a 1.181 OPS in 23 ninth-inning plate appearances and a 1.210 OPS in 17 pinch-hit appearances. He had nine homers and 31 RBIs in 71 games overall.

Giambi could begin his Minor League rehab stint as early as Monday.

"I do know that when he's active," Francona said of Giambi, "I think our team ... has a little bit more stick-your-chest-out a little bit. I think it's because of all the things 'G' stands for and what he believes in."

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Carrasco strong, but late blunders cost Tribe

Righty fans eight in six innings, but two errors in ninth lead to loss

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CLEVELAND -- Struggles to play a clean brand of baseball have cost Cleveland throughout this season. It has been arguably the most frustrating element of the Indians' year and a large reason behind the team's current place on the fringe of the postseason discussion.

On Friday night, a collapse in fundamentals hurt the Tribe again. A pair of baserunning mistakes in the eighth inning and two errors in the ninth paved the path to a 5-1 loss to the Astros, spoiling another solid start from right-hander Carlos Carrasco.

The loss was the third in the past five games for Cleveland, which is trying to remain relevant in both the American League Central and Wild Card races.

"We have about six weeks left," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If we want to continue to be in this thing, we're going to have to play a lot cleaner. I think sometimes it comes down to just being prepared. The guys work hard -- that's not an issue.

"But, as you start getting tired, it's just being ready for whatever play could happen so you don't have to just react. We're the type of team, we can't play like that and expect to win."

The Tribe's meltdown against Houston began in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Cleveland had runners on first and second base in a 1-1 game with catcher Roberto Perez at the plate. Facing Astros lefty Tony Sipp, Perez squared around to bunt, but pulled the bat back at the last moment. Mike Aviles was caught too far off second base and was tagged out on a rundown.

Aviles was not in the clubhouse after the defeat.

"He got too aggressive, knowing that they were being aggressive," Francona said. "And then he got in no-man's land."

Rookie Tyler Holt, who advanced from first to second on the play, then attempted a steal of third base with Perez still batting. Astros catcher Jason Castro fired a strike to third baseman Matt Dominguez, who applied the tag on Holt for the inning's second out.

Holt, who had 31 stolen bases in 98 Minor League games this season, desperately wanted to ignite a rally for Cleveland after the first mistake on the basepaths.

"I tried to make something happen," Holt said. "I tried to steal third -- completely my decision. I felt like I had a good jump. I thought I saw maybe fastball away. It just happened to be a bad pitch to steal on. At least I wasn't thrown out by a mile. It was bang-bang, but that's the way I play."

Francona hoped it would serve as a learning moment for the young player.

"You've got to be pretty sure you're going to make it," Francona said. "With youth comes some youthful mistakes. What I don't want him to do is play scared. Those are things that we certainly talk to guys about."

Sipp then followed with a strikeout of Perez, and the Cleveland crowd unleased a chorus of boos in response.

In the top of the ninth inning, Cleveland's season-long defensive woes came back to bite the club again. The Indians have now made a Major League-leading 99 errors this season after having 98 miscues in all of the 2013 campaign.

With one out and a runner on first base, closer Cody Allen induced a grounder from Dexter Fowler. First baseman Carlos Santana gloved the ball, but threw wildly over second base, putting runners on the corners. Fowler then attempted a steal of second, and Perez fired an errant throw to second, scoring a run to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Later in the ninth, Jon Singleton crushed a three-run home run off Allen, leading to four unearned runs for the closer and effectively putting the game out of reach.

"We need to play clean," Francona said, "because we pitched really good tonight."

Making his third start since leaving the Tribe's bullpen, Carrasco was strong once again, hitting 98-99 mph in the first inning and overpowering the Astros for most of the night. The right-hander turned in six innings and extended his scoreless innings streak as a starter to 16 before slipping briefly in the fifth inning against Houston.

Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez led off the fifth by drilling an 0-1 offering from Carrasco to right field, collecting his sixth home run of the season and putting the Indians in a 1-0 hole. Carrasco quickly recovered from the momentary lapse and set down the next three batters he faced in order.

Carrasco has pieced together 18 innings since transitioning back to a starting role, which he held on Opening Day before his early-season issues led to a trip to the bullpen. In his past three outings, the righty has turned in a 0.50 ERA with seven hits scattered, two walks and 17 strikeouts. Eight of those whiffs came Friday against Houston.

"I felt really good," Carrasco said. "The only thing I had on my mind was giving [us] the opportunity to win the game."

Carrasco managed to escape with a no-decision thanks to hot-hitting rookie Zach Walters, who belted a solo home run off Astros starter Brad Peacock with two outs in the fifth inning. The blast was Walters' team-leading fifth home run since Aug. 10, when he was promoted from Triple-A Columbus. It also marked his third consecutive game with a homer.

The late collapse swept away those silver linings.

"We obviously need to be better," Francona said. "That's not the way we certainly want to play the game. Losing is one thing, but losing like that."

Francona paused.

"We'll do better," he added.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

League Park ready to make a big comeback

Former Indians home, long in disrepair but now renovated, to impact community

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CLEVELAND -- On the corner of E. 66th St. and Lexington Ave., it had stood as a ramshackle reminder of another time. There were broken windows and rotting brickwork lining its exterior, squatters sleeping in its former ticket booth, weeds springing out from the once-lush field of green where luminaries like Cy Young, Babe Ruth and Bob Feller once roamed.

League Park, a home to the Indians from 1901-46, was not unlike much of its surroundings in the Hough neighborhood, an area long ago known as "Little Hollywood" that became a typical symbol of urban blight in 20th-century America.

But with the help of Cleveland's $6.3 million restoration project, a ballpark that once served as a symbol of Hough's faded past is now the centerpiece of its hopeful future.

The official unveiling will be at 1 p.m. ET Saturday, in a ceremony that will be attended by Mayor Frank Jackson, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and former Indians Andre Thornton and Travis Hafner, among others. The Cleveland Blues, a vintage baseball club, will take the field, as will the city's RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) team. Hafner will don 1920s-era Tribe garb and put on a home-run-hitting display.

The historical marker in front of the new League Park field.

Those attending will be stunned by League Park's new look.

"It's here," said Michael Cox, the city's director of public works, "and it's beautiful."

The field, now completely covered by synthetic FieldTurf to allow for regular use, has been recovered at its original quirky dimensions (375 feet down the left-field line, 375 to dead center and just 290 to a 45-foot high metal screen in right), and the plan is for it to hold Little League, high school, college and recreational games, as well as potential Indians fantasy camps.

The three-story building that once held the ticket booth and the locker rooms is completely refurbished, and it is now suited to hold a museum to the city's expansive baseball history.

The brick grandstand wall still stands along E. 66th Street, but now its interior features vibrant artwork honoring the greats who played there.

And beyond the first-base line, a brand-new building holds bathrooms, concessions and space for a shop or conference area. There is also, fittingly, a statue of the late councilwoman Fannie Lewis, who championed the League Park project until her death in 2008.

League Park, an Indians home from 1901-46, as it appeared long ago.

To those who both respect the game's past and appreciate its attention to growth in inner-city areas (witness the Chicago and Philadelphia teams that met in the U.S. semifinals of the Little League World Series), League Park's revival is an embraceable endeavor.

"We made this investment," Cox said, "so children could play baseball in a beautiful location. I think it's one of the greatest capital investments we've made. We want to get kids back to playing ball. We want to make League Park a destination."

It certainly once was.

Originally opened in 1891 -- with a game pitched by Young -- League Park housed the 1920 World Series, which featured the first unassisted triple play in Major League history. It housed Feller's first start, that day in 1936 when the 17-year-old Iowa farm boy struck out 15 St. Louis Browns. It housed the 1945 Negro League World Series, which was won by the Cleveland Buckeyes. It housed Addie Joss' 1908 perfect game.

In 1929, Babe Ruth's 500th home run landed on Lexington Avenue, just past that Great Wall in right. The last of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, in 1941, took place at League Park.

Fielding history
Cleveland's League Park renovation is the latest example of a former big league ballpark finding a new, functional use.
Five former stadiums worth a visit
Sportsman's Park, St. Louis: The site is the home of the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club, and the field area is intact and in use.
Yankee Stadium, New York: Heritage Field opened in 2012 and contains three natural-grass fields.
Tiger Stadium, Detroit: The Tigers' home of 87 years was demolished in 2009, and the land was neglected by the city, but a group of fans, known as the Navin Field Grounds Crew, brought the field back to life. The Detroit Police Athletic League wants to build its headquarters and a youth field there.
Crosley Field, Cincinnati: City Gospel Mission and the Reds Hall of Fame have partnered to create a historic site where the Reds played from 1912-70 and the hope is to have it open in time for the 2015 All-Star Game. There is a functional replica to the old ballpark in the northern suburb of Blue Ash.
Memorial Stadium, Baltimore: The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation built a youth ballpark -- which can function for baseball, football or soccer -- on the two-acre site on E. 33rd Street.

And for decades, all of that was merely memory, fading by the day, much like Hough itself.

Once dotted with beautiful homes, electric street cars and private schools, Hough's deterioration began during the Great Depression and continued when freeway construction brought the city's low-income residents to its streets and corroding houses. There was racial turmoil that erupted in the famous 1966 Hough riots, and, by century's end, the now predominantly African-American population had plummeted from a mid-1950s mark of more than 65,000 to a total in the mid-teens.

So you really had to squint hard and think long to see and feel the history that had taken place here.

But now you don't have to squint at all.

League Park is the primary -- but not the only -- source of improvement in this once-neglected neighborhood. New homes have been erected on nearby streets, a community-run vineyard named Chateau Hough bottled its first wine this spring, and commercial renovation and landscape improvements have given a slightly new shine to the streets.

A ballpark project of this scope can't cure all that ails an urban area in a poverty-stricken city. But the facility is now back in condition to serve its initial intent of creating communal gatherings.

"I'm telling you, we've had calls from people and organizations in the neighborhood, and they're so excited," Cox said. "It's this lovely, beautiful piece sitting right there in the neighborhood."

League Park is back in business.


Slumping Chisenhall trying to find early magic

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CLEVELAND -- It was only two months ago when Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall looked like a contender for the American League's batting title. Chisenhall's fortunes in the batter's box have taken a decisively different turn.

During Friday's 5-1 loss to the Astros, Chisenhall went 0-for-2 at the plate before being pulled for a pinch-hitter when left-hander Tony Sipp took the mound for Houston in the eighth inning. The third baseman's showing was the latest in a growing string of rough nights.

"It's a tough league," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When you're not feeling great at the plate, pitchers will make you wear it. That's what he's going through."

The 25-year-old Chisenhall was in the big league spotlight on June 9, when he turned in an all-time great offensive game by going 5-for-5 with three home runs and nine RBIs against Texas. Two days later, the third baseman's average peaked at .393, and he had seven home runs to go along with 32 RBIs in 168 at-bats.

In the 54 games that followed, Chisenhall earned the right to play on an everyday basis, but hit .193 (37-for-192) with four home runs and 14 RBIs. With his 0-for-2 performance against Houston, his season average dropped to .285, which is respectable overall, but a far cry from where it once stood.

Recently, Francona has cited fatigue as one possible explanation.

"He just isn't getting to some balls that he was earlier," Francona said. "Early in the season, he was hitting a lot of balls to left field. Some of them hard, some of them not hard, finding the outfield grass. Then, as the league started to make adjustments, you could see Lonnie making adjustments and starting to pull the ball.

"Lately, the same balls he was hitting before, he's fouling back or maybe getting jammed a little bit. Some of that could be some fatigue."

Early in the year, Francona used the lefty-swinging Chisenhall sparingly against left-handers and he hit .500 (14-for-28) off southpaws through June 11. Since then, he has hit just .225 (9-for-40) against left-handers and only .182 (28-for-154) off righties. The recent struggles have led Francona to begin picking and choosing the right situations to use the third baseman.

"We've got to pick our spots a little bit," Francona said.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Lindor matches career high for hits and runs

Indians' No. 1 prospect goes 4-for-5 in Friday night win

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Indians No. 1 prospect Francisco Lindor collected four hits and scored three runs Friday as Triple-A Columbus defeated the Bats in Louisville, 5-2.

Lindor, ranked No. 4 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, finished the night 4-for-5 and matched his career high for both hits and runs. The only other four-hit game of his career came May 3, 2013, when he was playing for Class A Advanced Carolina.

After rain delayed the start of the game by two hours and 31 minutes, Lindor singled in his first two plate appearances before grounding out in the fifth. He added two more singles in the eighth and ninth innings.

Lindor began the season with Double-A Akron and was promoted to Columbus last month. In 29 games with the Clippers, he is hitting .264/.295/.352 with three home runs and three stolen bases. The 20-year old is the youngest player in the International League.

Center fielder James Ramsey, the club's No. 5 prospect, added a double and two RBIs. In 20 games with the Clippers since the Indians acquired him for Justin Masterson at the Trade Deadline, Ramsey is hitting .282/.360/.474 with two home runs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Indians can't support less-than-stellar Kluber

Walters homers, but ace uncharacteristically walks four, allows dinger

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MINNEAPOLIS -- It says a lot about the kind of season Indians starter Corey Kluber is having that Thursday could be considered a bad day at the office.

In what has been an incredible second half for Cleveland's rotation leader, Kluber finally flinched in what would normally be deemed a decent effort. Given the high standards the right-hander has set of late, he looked to be laboring on a day when a lack of run support led to a 4-1 loss to the Twins at Target Field.

"He's earned the right for us to expect what he does," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He just didn't command today as well as he normally does."

The defeat was only the third in the past 10 games for the Tribe, which slipped to six games behind the first-place Royals in the American League Central. Cleveland remains 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers for the AL's second Wild Card spot.

Pitted against Twins right-hander Phil Hughes, Kluber gave Cleveland seven solid innings in what ultimately went down as another quality start for the American League Cy Young Award contender. For the first time since July 11, though, Kluber gave up at least three runs, surrendered at least one home run and worked with at least 11 baserunners.

Since that July 11 glitch against the White Sox, Kluber had gone 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA, 55 strikeouts and only six walks in 47 2/3 innings across the six starts leading up to Thursday's outing. The Twins showed early on that they were up to the task, collecting one hit and drawing a walk in Kluber's first inning on a muggy afternoon.

In all, Kluber issued four free passes, marking his most in one outing since June 15. Entering the game, the right-hander also had just four non-intentional, four-pitch walks on the season. Against the Twins, Kluber uncharacteristically had a pair of four-pitch walks.

Kluber said he knew what the issue was, but declined to go into detail.

"We'll figure it out," said the pitcher.

With the loss, Kluber dropped to 13-7 and saw his season ERA tick up to 2.46 through 27 starts for Cleveland.

"I was a little off," Kluber said. "I just wasn't quite able to reel it in and find it. I did a good job battling, trying to keep the team in the game, but I didn't quite have enough today to pull off the win."

Kluber sidestepped the potential harm of Minnesota's early traffic, but encountered his first setback in the fourth inning, when Kennys Vargas drilled a pitch into the left-field seats for a solo home run. In the sixth inning, the Twins struck again in the form of a two-run double off the bat of Trevor Plouffe, pushing the Tribe in a 3-1 hole.

On another day, Kluber's 109-pitch effort might have been enough to net a win.

"The fact that he still kept it a low-scoring game," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said, "and [kept] us in the ballgame that long, that's a credit to him. That's what we've come to expect from him."

Minnesota's slim margin was sufficient for Hughes, who outdueled Kluber by striking out eight, walking none and scattering five hits in his seven frames for Minnesota. Cleveland's lone breakthrough against the Twins starter came in the fifth inning, when rookie Zach Walters drilled a 1-2 offering out to right field for a rocket of a home run.

"He threw a little cutter that came back over the plate," Walters said of the pitch he launched for his seventh homer of the season. "His stuff was on. He was throwing that invisible fastball, it seemed like. No one could get on top and no one could square up. I got lucky on one."

When it was all said and done, Kluber ended the day with eight strikeouts, giving him 205 on the year. That represents the most in a season by a Cleveland right-hander since 2000, when Bartolo Colon had 212. Kluber also joined Colon as one of only nine Indians pitchers in the past 100 seasons to have at least 200 strikeouts in a single campaign.

That was hardly a consolation prize for a pitcher trying to do his part in keeping Cleveland in contention.

"Any time you lose a ballgame it's disappointing," Kluber said. "Obviously, we'd like to win every game we can right now with the position we're in."

{"content":["injury" ] }

Gomes exits an inning after being hit in mask

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Indians were not going to take any chances when catcher Yan Gomes began to feel ill after absorbing a deflected pitch off the mask on Thursday afternoon.

In the sixth inning of the Tribe's 4-1 loss to the Twins, Gomes exited with concussion-like symptoms, but the catcher's ailment was not technically classified as a concussion. Gomes was evaluated by a doctor on site at Target Field and will continue to be monitored by the Indians overnight.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Gomes would be re-evaluated on Friday morning, too.

"The doctor didn't want to say he had a concussion," Francona said after the loss. "But we obviously need to keep an eye on him. We'll get him examined in the morning and keep an eye on him tonight. He said he's already feeling a lot better. Obviously, we need to keep an eye on him."

When approached by reporters after the game, Gomes declined comment.

Gomes, who has been one of Cleveland's hottest hitters in the second half, received a day off on Wednesday night and went hitless through two trips to the plate on Thursday afternoon. In the fifth inning, the catcher was struck on the mask by a baseball that deflected off the left arm of Minnesota batter Kurt Suzuki.

In the sixth inning, Gomes was replaced behind the plate by rookie catcher Roberto Perez.

"On the ball that hit Suzuki," Francona said, "it glanced him and kind of hit Gomer on the side of the mask there. And then he wasn't feeling well. So we got him out of there."

Through 109 games played this season, the 27-year-old Gomes has hit .284 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs for the Indians. Heading into Thursday's action, the catcher had hit at a .359 clip with 15 extra-base hits, 20 RBIs and a 1.005 OPS in his previous 30 games, dating back to July 12.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Sluggers' talks help Walters emerge as power threat

Mentored by Miggy, Canseco, new Tribe hitter has four homers in nine games

Sluggers' talks help Walters emerge as power threat play video for Sluggers' talks help Walters emerge as power threat

MINNEAPOLIS -- Zach Walters was hitting in the batting cage at Detroit's spring facility two springs ago, working on his swing during a rain delay. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera wandered over, watched a few swings and then asked the young hitter a question.

"He asked me what kind of hitter I was," Walters recalled on Thursday afternoon at Target Field. "He said, 'I think with your swing, you could hit for power.' He, out of the blue for like 40 minutes, just sat there and talked and hit with me.'"

Walters -- a prospect for the Nationals during his chance meeting with Cabrera -- has flashed that power potential since being acquired by the Indians in the July 31 trade that sent shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington. In Cleveland's 4-1 loss to the Twins, Walters did so again, launching his fourth home run in his first nine games with the Indians.

Right now, raw is the best way to describe Walters' talent in the batter's box.

The 24-year-old switch-hitter has hit just .212 in his brief tenure with the Tribe, but four of his seven hits have been home runs. In fact, over the course of his short Major League career, which includes stints with the Nationals in each of the past two years, Walters has posted a .525 slugging percentage, while batting just .225 in 80 at-bats.

Walters' seven home runs account for 46.7 percent of his hit total (15) at the big league level this season.

"It's in there," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think he's kind of come as advertised. It's just nice to see it in person. When you see a kid hit the ball at Triple-A, which is good, but then you see him here and you can see why he's hitting the ball out of the ballpark. He's taking a lot of good swings."

In terms of Walters' development, Francona said the Indians are willing to trade growing pains for growth as a hitter over the season's final six weeks. Cleveland believes he can be a big part of its future plans, but the club needs to play him on a regular basis to get a better grasp of what it might have in Walters.

Walters is thrilled to have that chance.

"It's faith," Walters said. "They've given me a little bit of faith and I'm trying to give them something back in return."

Walters, who appeared in 23 of his 32 games with Washington this season as a pinch-hitter, said it has also helped to be in the American League.

"I don't feel like I have to go up there for one at-bat in the National League," he said, "and hit a ball 500 feet or get four hits in one at-bat."

Walters -- a middle infielder by trade, and part-time outfielder for Cleveland by circumstance -- has not minded helping out as a designated hitter of late. He quipped that the four gloves sitting in his equipment bag were just for show.

"As long as I get to swing a baseball bat, I don't care where I play," he said. "I don't even know what those [gloves] are. What are those things?"

The power numbers were not always there for Walters.

Across the 2010-12 seasons, Walters had 25 home runs and a .438 slugging percentage in 1,207 Minor League at-bats (322 games). Over the past two years, however, he has launched 46 homers and posted a .554 slugging percentage in 755 at-bats (201 games).

Walters said he has improved his power through swing tweaks and altering his approach in light of conversations with various hitters over the years. Walters has one surprising mentor in former Major League slugger Jose Canseco. They both live in Las Vegas, and during recent offseasons, Walters has played on Canseco's softball team.

"A long time ago," Walters said with a smirk. "Lots of winters ago."

Walters said his discussions with Canseco and Cabrera have helped him fine-tune his approach in the batter's box.

"He's a big dude. He talks path to the ball," Walters said of Canseco. "[Cabrera] talked about an approach and about being able to throw your hands at the plate, use your weight, get the most out of that."

So far, so good.

But, what about mixing in a single every once in a while?

"I don't even know what that means," Walters joked.

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