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MLB announces Clemente Award nominees

Fan voting begins Wednesday for honor that recognizes community contributions

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Major League Baseball and Chevrolet announced on Tuesday the names of the 30 club nominees for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, and fan voting will begin Wednesday, Roberto Clemente Day, to help decide who succeeds Carlos Beltran as the winner of the prestigious community honor handed out annually at the World Series.

American League nominees include Nick Markakis of Baltimore, Craig Breslow of Boston, Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox, Nick Swisher of Cleveland, Justin Verlander of Detroit, Jason Castro of Houston, Eric Hosmer of Kansas City, C.J. Wilson of the Los Angeles Angels, Glen Perkins of Minnesota, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, Jed Lowrie of Oakland, Felix Hernandez of Seattle, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, Adrian Beltre of Texas and Todd Redmond of Toronto.

National League nominees include Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, Craig Kimbrel of Arizona, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Skip Schumaker of Cincinnati, Michael Cuddyer of Colorado, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Steve Cishek of Miami, Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, David Wright of the New York Mets, Jimmy Rollins of Philadelphia, Charlie Morton of Pittsburgh, Jason Motte of St. Louis, Ian Kennedy of San Diego, Sergio Romo of San Francisco and Ian Desmond of Washington.

The award recognizes the MLB player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. Each club nominates one team member in an effort to pay tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others.

"I feel extremely proud of the support that Major League Baseball and Chevy provides to our communities," said Vera Clemente, Clemente's widow and an MLB goodwill ambassador who helps present the award each fall. "I know Roberto would be honored to know the way today's players support multiple causes. ... They are truly role models for today's generation."

This year's list includes seven 2014 All-Stars: Beltre, Goldschmidt, Hernandez, Kershaw, Kimbrel, Perkins and Rizzo. One of those, Kershaw could become the only two-time recipient of this award, having received it in 2012.

There were more than 1.3 million fan votes last year, and fans can start voting again on Wednesday at ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media. Voting ends on Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to next month's World Series.

The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel of dignitaries, which includes Commissioner Bud Selig; MLB chief operating officer and Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred; Vera Clemente; Hall of Fame Broadcaster and the Spanish Voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers Jaime Jarrin; MLB Network analysts and former Clemente Award winners Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds (also of FOX Sports) and John Smoltz (also of FOX Sports); Hall of Famer, ESPN analyst and former Clemente Award winner Barry Larkin; ESPN analyst and former Clemente Award winner Rick Sutcliffe; FOX broadcaster Joe Buck; Hall of Famer and TBS analyst Dennis Eckersley; TBS analyst Ron Darling (also of MLB Network); MLB.com senior correspondent Hal Bodley; a representative from Chevrolet and others.

Last month marked the 80th anniversary of Clemente's birth. What does it mean to carry on his legacy in this way? Recipients at each presentation always say that it is one of the most important honors of their careers, on or off the field. Just being one of these 30 nominees means a player has made a huge impact.

"When I was a kid, I always wanted to be like [Clemente] in one way, meaning having the opportunity to play baseball, having the opportunity to give back," Beltran said in his acceptance speech last year at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, where he was preparing for that night's World Series game against the Red Sox.

Willie Mays won the first Clemente Award in 1971 when it was known as the Commissioner's Award, recognizing community service around the game. He is one of 14 Hall of Famers on the distinguished list of recipients. After 1972, the award was dedicated in Clemente's name.

Clubs playing at home on Wednesday will recognize their nominees as part of Roberto Clemente Day ceremonies, while visiting clubs will honor their nominees before another September home game. As part of the league-wide celebration, the Roberto Clemente Day logo will appear on the bases and the official dugout lineup cards.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Improved McAllister not enough to halt skid

Right-hander goes six strong innings in return to rotation

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HOUSTON -- The times are getting desperate for these Indians. With another road loss, this time to the Astros in Minute Maid Park on Monday night, Cleveland doesn't have much time left to chase a playoff spot.

Even on a night with some positives, like Zach McAllister's strong effort or a first-inning run, it wasn't enough as the Tribe fell, 3-1, to move six games back of the second American League Wild Card spot.

For the Indians, it may be these series openers that ultimately keep them on the outside looking in come October. They are now 22-28 in such games this season.

This one definitely featured a little despair crammed between the positives, as the loss dropped Cleveland to 0-4 on this decisive 10-game road stretch.

Jose Altuve's two-run single in the third inning was all the Astros needed. It was the second baseman's team-record 63rd multi-hit game of the year, so it was hardly a knock against McAllister.

"He's so tough," McAllister said. "Sometimes, it's almost easier to face those bigger guys who have longer swings. With him, he's got such a short swing and knows how to manipulate the bat."

Indians manager Terry Francona said Altuve is one of the game's ultimate difference makers, and he showed more of it Monday night at an inopportune time for the Indians.

"He's one of the best players in the game," Francona said. "The stolen bases, the energy, the hitting to all fields -- he's a very difficult guy to pitch to because he can go out of the zone to get hits. There's no easy way to go around him."

Other than the mistake McAllister left up to Altuve, he looked more like the back-end starter Cleveland enjoyed en route to the playoffs last season rather than the erratic one it's seen this year.

"I felt pretty good," McAllister said. "There was times I got into trouble … Overall, entire game I felt happy with the early strikes and soft contact and good play behind me to help me out."

Early on, the Astros found some success off the righty's high offerings, but he said settling back into the starting position probably happened gradually.

Eventually, the form returned a bit, especially after he eased out of a fourth-inning jam by getting Matt Dominguez to ground out as a runner crossed home plate.

"I fell behind at times trying to overthrow a bit, so I just let myself relax and really focus on getting the ball down to get back in counts or get ahead," McAllister said. "It was different [being back in the rotation]. Going to the bullpen was definitely a different thing. … But any time they call your name or number, they expect you to put up zeros and get guys out."

The righty, making his first start since July 31, wasn't unhittable by any means. But his no-walk, seven-hit performance was a solid return to starting form in a crucial spot. It could have even been enough under more fortunate circumstances.

Instead, he's now gone 11 straight starts without a win and is mired in a seven-game losing skid as he tries to recapture his 2013 form after a stint in Triple-A Columbus and in the Tribe bullpen.

On this night, though, he and the Indians had the misfortune of facing lights-out Astros starter Collin McHugh. In fact, the only thing that drove McHugh out of the game was Lonnie Chisenhall's seventh-inning liner that hit McHugh's left forearm.

McHugh suffered a left forearm contusion, but Chisenhall was ultimately retired on the play.

Prior to that, the Indians were thoroughly stymied by McHugh and didn't have multiple baserunners in an inning after leadoff man Michael Bourn scored on Carlos Santana's single after a first-inning Astros error. McHugh lasted 6 2/3 innings while allowing just five hits and striking out seven.

"That curveball of his just has such tight spin, so it's a swing-and-miss breaking ball," Francona said. "We hit a few hot balls that got caught, but there weren't many chances."

McHugh's not just picking on Cleveland here. The start marked his ninth straight outing in which he allowed two runs or fewer.

"I feel like today was a little more of a battle," McHugh said. "For whatever reason, these guys see me a little bit better than some other teams I've faced. I have to make better pitches, probably throw a few more cutters than I usually would because they're a good fastball-hitting team.

"Overall, yeah, it was a battle today for sure."

But still one that Cleveland ultimately lost, giving the Indians a four-game losing streak for the second time in six weeks.

There's still three more games against the suddenly surging Astros in Houston, enough time to tilt the now-tied 2-2 season series in the Indians' favor.

With two weeks left in the season, that task may ultimately be a must, rather than a luxury.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Ailing Raburn's status remains unclear; MRI may be needed

Utility man still day-to-day after hyperextended left knee has not improved

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HOUSTON -- After Detroit handed them a sweep over the weekend, the news for the Indians was no better Monday, as utility man Ryan Raburn's hyperextended left knee hasn't improved at all.

Manager Terry Francona said that day-to-day status may no longer be applicable, as Raburn received treatment to no avail prior to Monday's game against the Astros.

"He's still pretty tender, pretty sore," Francona said. "We're gonna have [head trainer James Quinlan] talk to [assistant trainer Jeff Desjardins] and see, see if we should get him back to Cleveland. We probably need to get him checked."

An MRI is likely imminent, but Francona said that hasn't been on the checklist yet. In fact, Raburn, who injured the knee in Saturday's loss to Detroit, made the trip precisely because the club thought he might be available at some point during this four-game set that is crucial to Cleveland's fading playoff hopes.

"We brought him here because if he had a good day and was day-to-day, maybe let him sit for a couple of days and be good," Francona said. "But the fact that he came in and was pretty tender, there's no way around it, he has to get looked at."

Raburn has not formally been shut down for the season just yet, but if he can't go within the next four days, there won't be much time left for him to heal.

"We haven't even looked inside him yet, so it's still up in the air [to me]," Francona said. "We'll trust our training staff and go from there."

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tito a fan of Tal's Hill in center field at Minute Maid Park

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HOUSTON -- The quirky Tal's Hill in center field at Minute Maid Park has plenty of detractors locally and nationally, and its future may even be up in the air as the Astros' front office re-evaluates the entire outfield areas for potential renovation in 2016 and beyond.

But the 436-foot mark in center, the high walls and the jutting angle in left that make up the outfield wall in Houston have a seemingly unlikely fan in Indians manager Terry Francona.

"I actually kind of like it," Francona said. "Of course, I don't have to cover the ground out there, but I think it's pretty cool. I love the idea of it."

Then again, he also has a luxury most teams don't have: Michael Bourn.

Cleveland's center fielder knows the hill all too well from his four seasons maneuvering around it as an Astros player.

"Bourn has been here so he understands it," Francona said. "There won't be an issue there, which is comforting as a manager."

Still, Francona -- a former outfielder himself -- said the team is careful to practice caroms off the left-field wall in their infrequent trips to Houston. On that front, at least, Francona's the one with experience, given his managerial history with the Red Sox and the famous Green Monster in left field at Fenway Park.

"I don't know why, I think [outfield quirks] add some personality, and that's part of our sport that maybe is kind of cool," Francona said. "Everything in football or basketball has to be symmetrical. That's not our game. There's always personality to the parks."

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Tribe turns to ace Kluber to get on track in Houston

Tropeano to make second MLB start vs. Indians

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The Indians entered Monday's series opener with the Astros at Minute Maid Park having won eight of the last nine meetings between them. But Houston pulled out a victory, which extended Cleveland's losing streak to four games and pushed the Tribe six games back in the American League Wild Card race.

The Indians, who are 8-3 against the Astros since Houston joined the AL, will turn to one of their steadiest arms in Corey Kluber in an effort to get back in the win column on Tuesday.

The dominance Kluber has shown this season has been no fluke. Through 31 starts, the 28-year-old has a 2.45 ERA and a 15-9 record. He's struck out 230 hitters while only walking 46, and he's held opponents to a .234 average.

Kluber has also reeled off 30 consecutive turns in which he's limited opponents to four earned runs or fewer, which is the longest such streak in the Majors.

"[Kluber has] been so amazingly consistent, and at a high level," Indians manager Terry Francona said after Kluber's last start on Thursday. "He's established himself as one of the better pitchers in the game. Just by knowing him like we do, I don't see that going anywhere, except maybe getting better."

Kluber worked into the ninth inning for a second consecutive start last week against the Twins. He couldn't lock down a second straight complete game, but he was strong through 8 1/3 innings. After allowing a two-out RBI single in the first inning, Kluber held the Twins to 1-for-19 at the plate through the end of the seventh inning.

One thing that worked in his favor was how the Indians backed him up with eight runs of support, so he had plenty of room for error. But he didn't really need it, as he only allowed the Twins two runs on eight hits.

The performance marked the 13th this season in which he's pitched into the eighth inning.

The Astros will rely on a less-experienced starter in the second game of the four-game set against the Indians. Nick Tropeano will make his second career start on Tuesday, but it'll be the first he makes in front of the friendly crowd at Minute Maid Park. The rookie right-hander impressed in his first turn, as he held the Mariners to four hits and two runs in five innings and even got his first big league win on Wednesday in Seattle.

That opportunity was enough, Tropeano said, to give him a a boost of confidence. But there are still some things he hopes to do differently.

"I think definitely there will be a lot less pressure coming into tomorrow," Tropeano said. "Just kind of getting ahead of hitters earlier and trying to attack hitters and maybe not try to nibble. Go right after hitters and be more aggressive."

Indians: Maintaining leads a must moving forward
For a team that's 6 games out of the second spot in the Wild Card race with 13 regular-season games to go, the Indians need to do a better job of maintaining leads.

The Indians are 51-26 when scoring first and have posted 34 come-from-behind wins. But in almost half of their 73 losses, the Indians have held a lead at some point or another.

Cleveland saw a game like that slip away from them on Monday. After jumping on an early one-run lead courtesy of a Carlos Santana RBI single in the first, Houston's Jose Altuve drove in the go-ahead run on a two-RBI hit in the third.

The Indians never scored another run, thus dropping the series opener and recording their 34th loss in which they've given up a lead.

Astros: Singleton to return to lineup
Interim manager Tom Lawless said struggling rookie first baseman Jon Singleton will return to the lineup on Tuesday after sitting out two games. Singleton is hitting .175 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs.

Singleton is in a 6-for-56 slump with two home runs and 28 strikeouts in his past 20 games.

"He just needs to relax," Lawless said. "He's trying way too hard to impress everybody, and I talked to him about it. I said, 'You're not going anywhere. You just need to go out there and relax and do the things that you did. Everybody knows you can do it. You're trying too hard to do it.'

"It's a great learning experience for him, especially if he can do some things and gain some more confidence. Right now, his confidence is not very high. I've been giving him two days off to sit back and watch and I'm hoping he comes [Tuesday] and the at-bats are better and he seems to get to where he feels he belongs here."

Worth noting
• Indians rookie Zach Walters left Monday's game with a strained right intercostal muscle. He was replaced by Justin Sellers at second in the sixth inning.

• The Astros have won 20 of their last 31 games.

• Jose Altuve, who's 11-for-21 in his last five games, is just one hit shy of tying Craig Biggio's single-season club record of 210, set in 1998.

Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Tribe tagged again by late homer, falls back in race

Shaw surrenders go-ahead two-run shot for second straight day

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DETROIT -- The Indians did not want to be in a position where another miracle was required. Following a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers this weekend, that is precisely what Cleveland needs if it wants to take its season off life support.

The Tribe arrived in the Motor City with a chance to cut into its deficit in both the American League Central and Wild Card standings, but the club limped out of town on the heels of three disheartening defeats. Cleveland's stalwart bullpen collapsed on Sunday afternoon, sending the Indians to a 6-4 loss that has heightened the importance of every pitch from here on out.

Really, the Indians only have one option now.

"We've got to deal with what's in front of us, which is to not lose games," Indians veteran Jason Giambi said. "It's that pure and simple. We've just got to play to win every single night and see what the universe has in store for us."

Last fall, Cleveland also needed a miracle and then reeled off 21 wins in September, finished the season with a 10-game winning streak and captured the AL's top Wild Card spot. With 14 games left on the regular-season schedule, the Indians will need a similarly strong finish to fend off the cluster of Wild Card contenders this year.

The latest loss in Detroit knocked third-place Cleveland 6 1/2 games back of the first-place Tigers in the AL Central. In the chase for the league's second Wild Card slot, the Indians face a five-game deficit behind the Royals, though the A's, Mariners, Blue Jays and Yankees are also jockeying for position in the standings.

"A lot of things that can happen in a short swing in baseball -- ups and downs," Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "You add up a bunch of wins and anything can happen. At the same time, the other team can do the same. It's going to be a battle all the way to the end."

Maybe so, but there was no sugarcoating what took place in Detroit this weekend.

"We desperately need to win games so bad," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

A year after going 4-15 against Detroit, which finished one game above the Tribe in the division in 2013, Cleveland wrapped up its season series its rivals with a 8-11 slate. While it represented an improvement over the Tigers, it also marked the first time that Cleveland has dropped consecutive season series against the Detroit since the 1992-93 seasons.

The Tigers won seven of the last eight meetings between the clubs this year.

"Give them credit," Francona said. "There's a couple games they knocked us around, but for the most part, every game, a lot of games, we had leads going into the games late. Our bullpen's been such a strength, but give them credit, they have guys that are very dangerous."

Sunday was the kind of game described by Francona.

Cleveland manufactured a run against Tigers starter Justin Verlander in the fifth inning and then struck for two (Jose Ramirez had an RBI single and Michael Brantley was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded) with reliever Blaine Hardy on the mound in the sixth. Carlos Santana added an RBI double off closer Joe Nathan in the ninth, but Detroit had already mounted an effective comeback.

Detroit's resident Tribe tormentor, J.D. Martinez, drove a 1-0 changeup from Indians starter Trevor Bauer (five innings, one earned run) to dead center in the fourth inning and then delivered an RBI single off the righty in the sixth. Martinez hit .328 with seven home runs, 20 RBIs and a .728 slugging percentage in 16 games against Cleveland this season.

"I'm trying to be careful in that situation -- two guys on, nobody out," Bauer said of Martinez's single in the sixth. "You don't want to throw him something he can hit out and then you're down. At the same time, you don't want to be too careful with him and put him on base. Now you're bases loaded and nobody out. It's just a real tough position."

Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Francona turned to setup man Bryan Shaw for the seventh inning. Shaw, who surrendered a two-run home run to Alex Avila in the eighth on Saturday night, served up a two-run shot to Kinsler this time around, putting Cleveland in a 4-3 hole. Detroit added two key insurance runs against rookie C.C. Lee in the eighth, sending the Indians on their way to the loss.

In the eighth, Lee found himself in a one-out jam with runners on second and third base and Kinsler at the plate. While trying to intentionally walk Kinsler, the young reliever fired a wild pitch that sailed off catcher Chris Gimenez's glove and allowed Don Kelly to sprint home from third base.

"Obviously, it was a huge play in that game," Gimenez said. "I feel bad for him, because he was trying to work through some stuff right there and that's not really much of a confidence-booster for him. He's got to learn from it."

Gimenez's last comment might also apply to the Indians in the wake of the sweep.

"They hurt a lot," Francona said of the three losses. "But now they're over. So now we've got to go to Houston and gather ourselves in a hurry, and continue to play. ... The only alternative is to show up tomorrow and win. I don't doubt that we'll show up and give everything we have."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Raburn's season in doubt after knee injury

Utility man to have hyperextended left knee tested if pain continues

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DETROIT -- The Indians are not sure how much time utility man Ryan Raburn will miss due to his left knee injury. With a little more than two weeks left on the schedule, it is possible that Raburn's season is at risk.

Prior to Sunday's series finale against the Tigers, Indians manager Terry Francona indicated that Raburn remained day to day with the hyperextended knee. If the pain persists over the next few days, Cleveland will likely send the veteran for more tests to further examine the extent of the injury.

"He's a little tender today," Francona said. "He won't do anything today other than get treatment, and then we'll kind of see how the next day or so goes. If he starts to improve, that's good. If he doesn't, then we'd probably think about getting him an MRI or something."

During the third inning of Saturday's 5-4 loss to Detroit, Raburn injured the knee on a defensive play in right field. The setback came after the 33-year-old Raburn went 2-for-3 with a home run in Cleveland's 7-2 loss to the Tigers on Friday night.

That made the timing of the injury frustrating for Raburn and the Tribe.

"What I was really excited about was he swung the bat the other night like he can swing it," Francona said. "That gives us a big lift. I know he's disappointed, but we'll get him looked at and not try to get ahead of ourselves, and just make sure he's OK."

Through 74 games for Cleveland this season, Raburn has hit .200 with just four home runs and 22 RBIs, while playing through a right wrist injury that has bothered him on and off since Spring Training. It has been a significant decline from 2013, when he hit .272 with 16 homers and 55 RBIs in 87 games during his first season with the Tribe.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Francona trusts Shaw in eighth despite lefty splits

Indians manager doesn't regret decision to leave righty in on Saturday

Francona trusts Shaw in eighth despite lefty splits

DETROIT -- The eighth inning belongs to Indians setup man Bryan Shaw. Despite some unfavorable splits against left-handed hitters, Shaw has pitched well enough to earn the trust of manager Terry Francona for most late-game situations.

An example arrived in the eighth inning of Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Tigers. With Cleveland clinging to a one-run lead, Shaw was allowed to face the left-handed-hitting Alex Avila with two outs. The reliever surrendered a go-ahead two-run home run, but Francona was not about to second-guess the decision one day later.

Francona said he did not consider turning to closer Cody Allen for that critical at-bat.

"I get your point," Francona said. "But say Cody comes in and walks him. Let's say they pinch-hit. There's just a lot of unknowns. Shaw's been so good that it's just too easy to say that after the fact, because what if Cody came in and didn't get him, and then the righty [Nick Castellanos] took him deep?

"Cody's splits are the same way. Then, you're going, 'What are you doing?' [Shaw] just didn't make the pitch he needed to."

Heading into Sunday's finale in Detroit, Shaw (2.42 ERA in 73 games) had limited right-handed batters to a .155 average and .444 OPS, but lefties were batting .296 with a .795 OPS off the right-hander. For the right-handed Allen (2.12 ERA in 70 games), the splits are reversed: lefties had a .133 average with a .449 OPS and righties had a .250 average with a .766 OPS.

"He's devastating against righties," Francona said of Shaw. "I think it's a little bit like Cody. There's been some damage done to him with lefties that has skewed his numbers a little bit, because there's a lot of lefties in the league where you look up and there's not good numbers. With that cutter he has, if he throws a flat one, the lefties have a little better chance."

Avila beat Shaw on a 3-2 slider, which the pitcher left over the plate. Francona said Shaw's strategy -- with first base open at the time -- made sense.

"If you look, early in the count he got him to kind of wave at a breaking ball down," Francona said. "I think he was trying to do that again. Sometimes you try to use the open base to your advantage. He just left it up. I don't second-guess our guys too often. They've got a pretty good feel for what they're doing and [catcher Yan Gomes] really grinds at it."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Francona defends Kipnis' tweets following loss

Manager said messages show second baseman 'cares about winning'

Francona defends Kipnis' tweets following loss

DETROIT -- In the aftermath of an emotional loss on Saturday night, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis logged into his Twitter account and defended his team in a series of messages. One post in particular, though, included expletives and was directed at a specific fan.

On Sunday morning, Tribe manager Terry Francona was made aware of the online exchange and reviewed the tweets in question. Though Francona did not necessarily condone the way Kipnis handled the situation, the manager agreed with the second baseman's overall message.

"He just showed he cares. He cares about us winning," Francona said. "I think as difficult as a loss can be, for me, I was no less proud of their effort last night. Shoot, man. We got after it. We just lost.

"It hurts, but if anything, that's where the loyalty and stuff like that grows, because we're going to do it together. That's part of what I think will get us eventually where we want to be."

Sitting at his locker on Sunday morning, Kipnis declined to discuss his late-night tweets.

"That's not a story," Kipnis said. "We're not talking about that."

After one fan referred to Cleveland's play as "pathetic" and criticized the club's low home attendance, Kipnis fired back by calling the follower an "idiot" in an expletive-filled post. Following that message, Kipnis wrote, in part: "Don't ever question this [team's] heart of effort. You should want overachievers! That means they have a pulse."

Francona defended Kipnis' thoughts on Saturday's effort.

"I read it," Francona said. "Besides the [swearing], I thought he cares. I really didn't have a problem with that. Shoot, I thought we played our [tails] off, too. That was a heartbreaking loss for us. I didn't think it was 'pathetic.'"

Quote to note
"Times are changing. I don't think you sacrifice your principles because times are changing. but they are [changing]. From even [the media's] standpoint, I remember the rules of you needed two sources. Now, shoot, if somebody sneezes, it gets tweeted. It probably makes you guys rush. It's changed a lot of things. Some of it's probably good. Some of it's probably not -- just like anything else."
--Francona, on social media

Smoke signals
• In the first inning on Saturday, Indians center fielder Michael Bourn once again showed how far he has come from his left hamstring issued by legging out an impressive leadoff double. Francona said the game-opening hit not only sparked the two-run first inning, but gave the team a jolt.

"His mentality out of the box gave us so much energy," Francona said. "He came out of the box flying. That's a fun way to start the game. That really got everybody going. And then [Mike Aviles] gets the bunt down. That got me pretty charged up. Bourny really cares about winning."

• Cleveland's Class A Lake County affiliate was defeated by Kane County on Saturday, completing a three-game sweep by the Cougars in the Midwest League's best-of-five championship series. Outfielder Clint Frazier (selected in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft) went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the 7-2 loss for the Captains.

• With their loss on Saturday, the Indians sealed a loss of the season series with the rival Tigers. Cleveland is now assured of consecutive losing seasons against Detroit for the first time since the 1992 (5-8) and '93 (6-7) seasons. The Tribe went 4-15 against the Tigers last season.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Verses that became National anthem celebrates 200 years, is part of baseball's fabric

Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked play video for Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Francis Scott Key never got to see a big league baseball game. He died in 1843, some 26 years before the first professional team was established. But you can imagine his joy if he did get that chance. These days, he'd probably sit in a shiny bleacher seat, waiting for a batting-practice homer with a soft, weathered glove raised high ... in his non-writing hand. Maybe he'd inhale a hot dog while jotting down a few pretty lines for his next song. That would come about an hour before he'd hear the iconic bars of his first one, which, contrary to American lore, does not end with the words, "Play Ball." Odds are he'd be pretty happy at the twilight's last gleaming.

This weekend, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is on, and Key's memory is being rightly feted for his poetic description from the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, at the height of the War of 1812.

Hours after being stuck on a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British pounded Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Key saw the skies clear from the smoke and the indelible image that "our flag was still there."

The verses were called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it was put to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song purportedly written by John Stafford Smith that had been composed more than 30 years earlier and served as the theme of the Anacreontic Society of London, a men's club of amateur musicians.

Soon after Key wrote the words, a local newspaper gave it the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," and in 1931, it became our official anthem. All the while, another grand tradition steeped in collective nostalgia and American togetherness -- the game of baseball -- was steaming along, gaining prominence in our country's conscience.

Not surprisingly, the national anthem and the National Pastime became stitched together forever, like red laces in white horsehide.

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, the playing of the national anthem before big league games did not become an everyday tradition until 1942. Taking that into account (and including a slight margin of error based on the lack of documentation regarding split doubleheaders in the earlier days), the Star-Spangled Banner has been heard right before the first pitch of at least the last 121,000 games. Oh, say can you see, indeed.

So with that in mind, 200 years after the night a 35-year-old Washington, D.C.-based attorney known to friends as Frank found himself under a war-torn sky, with honor in his heart and a pen in his hand, we go around the horn with nine things to know about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its now-eternal link to the national pastime.

1. A first for everything
The first time the song was played at a baseball game was May 15, 1862, at William Cammeyer's Union Grounds park in Brooklyn. It had been converted from an ice skating venue into a field for summer sports, including what, at the time, was known as "base ball." In the midst of the Civil War, a band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The first big league Opening Day to feature the eventual anthem took place in Philadelphia on April 22, 1897. The New York Tribune newspaper included a brief and lyrical account of the game: "Opening Day here was a great success. The weather was delightful and the attendance numbered 17,074. The players paraded across the field, company front, and then raised the new flag, while the band played 'The Star Spangled Banner.' "

In spite of all the pageantry, there had to be some accounting for the four errors that led the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Giants at the Baker Bowl.

"The game was rather dull and long-drawn out," the article read, "and on the part of the New-Yorkers was somewhat unsteadily played."

2. An unforgettable rendition
The first national anthem played at a World Series game occurred on Sept. 5, 1918, during World War I, when Major League players were in the midst of being drafted into service. The regular season was ordered by the government to be completed by Labor Day, hence the Fall Classic that year was played in September.

The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park from the White Sox to take advantage of the larger seating capacity, but things got quiet in Game 1, a 1-0 shutout by Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth. But that game will be forever remembered for what occurred in the seventh inning.

That was when the military band on hand struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the song took on a different meaning. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, for example, was on furlough from the Navy, and he saluted the flag during the playing of the song.

And then the crowd caught on. The New York Times opened its account of the game by writing, "Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch" and then continued with the play-by-play … of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day's enthusiasm."

The Cubs and Red Sox repeated the tradition for the rest of the Series.

3. Making it official
Even though the Secretary of the Navy in 1889 had designated "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official song to be played at the raising of the flag, and even though President Woodrow Wilson, a huge baseball fan himself, treated it and referred to it as our national anthem, it had failed to stick in Congress after numerous attempts in the 1920s.

Baseball's increased use of the song prior to games, a petition with millions of signatures, and a nice little push from noted composer John Philip Sousa helped finally get the job done on March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed into law the establishment of the song as the official national anthem of the United States of America.

4. A lasting tradition
"The Star-Spangled Banner" still wasn't being played before every baseball game in 1941, but on April 26, 1941, the ball got rolling in the Bronx. As The New York Times reported, "With more war new in the making, president Ed Barrow of the Yankees ordered that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' be played before all games at the Stadium.

"Meanwhile, all continued to go well for the Yankees and [Joe] DiMaggio. He singled home a run in the first and scored twice as New York beat Washington 8-3 for its fourth straight victory."

By the following year, with the country deep in World War II, the anthem became the daily staple of baseball that we know today.

And DiMaggio was still hitting.

5. Controversy hits the field
It was October 1968, and the country was fighting in Vietnam and had already lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that year. Protests were boiling over in the streets at home, and the Detroit Tigers were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Jose Feliciano was a 23-year-old blind folk singer from Puerto Rico who had scored a hit on the U.S. charts with a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire," and Tigers radio legend Ernie Harwell invited him to sing the national anthem at Tiger Stadium prior to Game 5.

Feliciano was accompanied in left field by his acoustic guitar and his guide dog, Trudy, and he launched into an emotional, heartfelt, and, well, different version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He strummed the guitar in a slightly syncopated, Latin-influenced rhythm, careened back and forth from the traditional vocal melody to something more adventurous, and offered the finishing flourish of "Yeah, yeah."

It was bold and innovative and fresh, but it was also many years ahead of its time. Feliciano was booed heartily by the crowd and caused a public uproar that took years to live down.

"Back then, when the anthem was done at ballgames, people couldn't wait for it to be over," Feliciano told The Guardian last month. "And I wanted to make them sit up and take notice and respect the song. I was shocked when I was booed. I felt, 'God, what have I done wrong?' All I was trying to do was create a soulful rendition. I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have the country against me, radio stations stop playing me.

"But in part, it was good -- because I ended up meeting my wife. She couldn't understand the injustice and started a fan club, even though we'd never met. We fell in love and the rest is history."

On Oct. 14, 2012, prior to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the same stylized, heartfelt version of the national anthem was performed by Feliciano on his acoustic guitar.

This time the crowd roared.

6. "O"-dience participation
The anthem itself is a tradition, and at Oriole Park in Camden Yards in Baltimore, there's a tradition baked into the tradition. When the song rounds third base and heads for home with, "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the crowd screams the "O" together, celebrating their beloved O's.

This started at the old Memorial Stadium in the club's pennant-winning season of 1979. Out in Section 34 of the upper deck, Orioles superfan Wild Bill Hagy would lead fans in chants of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, with the emphasis on the "O." Mary Powers sat nearby and took the inspiration to another level.

"We would accentuate the 'O' in any word that would have an 'O,' and one night when they were playing the anthem, I thought, 'There's an 'O!' in this song,' and the first time I did it, I remember people turning around and looking like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe she just did that,' " Powers recently told WBAL-TV.

"Well, Wild Bill had a little grin on his face, so the next night, he did it with me, and once he put his blessing on it, everybody started to do it."

Orioles fans still do it -- loudly -- and will likely be doing it in October this year.

7. Setting the (low) Barr
We all know now that Feliciano's rendition was eventually respected, if not appreciated. We all also know now that the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by comedian Roseanne Barr before a Padres-Reds doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, was not.

Barr screeched a fast, off-key rendition of the anthem that drew loud boos midway through, and when she was finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit, as if to mimic a ballplayer. The joke bombed, she was lambasted all over TV and in the newspapers, and she inspired President George H. W. Bush to call the whole act "disgraceful."

Bush's comment was met with bipartisan approval.

8. A hymn of healing
The horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the United States forever, but not only in tragic ways. The courage, brotherhood and human decency shown that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and on a hijacked airplane that would crash in a Pennsylvania field showed our country's strength and will to persevere.

The emotion was palpable 10 days later when the Mets played the Braves at Shea Stadium in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Marc Anthony delivered a somber rendition without musical accompaniment and the game was played quietly until the eighth inning, when Piazza's two-run home run gave the Mets the lead and got the crowd going again.

"I remember standing on the line during the national anthem -- actually when the bagpipes and band came out -- I said to myself, 'Please, God, give me the strength to get through this,' " Piazza told the New York Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

9. 200 and many more
Every year now, we're treated to incredible musical talent on the baseball field. From the seasoned operatic pipes of longtime Yankees national anthem singer Robert Merrill to commercial acts James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., John Legend, Lyle Lovett, the Grateful Dead, Slash from Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson and countless others, it's now a grand American tradition to bring out the best in the business to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the biggest baseball games.

But Sunday, the song itself will shine.

At Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a real-time anniversary program will kick off, with artillery salutes, a reading of the song's four stanzas and a replica 15-star, 15-stripe flag raising at precisely 9 a.m. to commemorate the history that Key had witnessed.

And MLB teams playing at home will show a special video montage of "The Star-Spangled Banner." In conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the program Great Performances, Maryland Public Television has provided the montage originally seen in the PBS production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem to the ballparks and to MLB.com and all 30 club websites and official MLB social media channels.

Fittingly, the last game on Sunday will be played at Camden Yards, about three miles away from Fort McHenry, and fittingly, the Orioles will play the Yankees.

We all know what song we'll hear right before the first pitch.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Big hits not enough to prevent Indians' late loss

'Pen surrenders eighth-inning HR to drop Tribe 5 1/2 back in division

Big hits not enough to prevent Indians' late loss play video for Big hits not enough to prevent Indians' late loss

DETROIT -- The thread from which the Indians are hanging thinned a little more on Saturday night. In a town that has tormented the Tribe in recent seasons, Cleveland suffered another disheartening loss and took another step backward in the race for the playoffs.

Victor Martinez toyed with his former team again, Alex Avila assumed the role of villain and Indians setup man Bryan Shaw fired the pitch that now has Cleveland's season on the brink of unraveling. The Indians were dealt a 5-4 defeat that sealed a series loss in this critical three-game divisional set at Comerica Park.

"One loss isn't going to do anything," Shaw said. "Obviously, a loss like that is tough, but losing one game isn't going to make the difference. Right now, we've got to battle back, come back and try to win tomorrow, and hopefully the rest of the teams that are ahead of us and everything else, everything goes our way and we have an opportunity."

The loss dropped the Tribe 5 1/2 games back of the Tigers, who hold a half-game lead over the Royals in the battle for the American League Central crown. The Indians are now five games behind Kansas City in the race for the AL's second Wild Card spot, which has a list of contenders that also includes the A's, Mariners, Blue Jays and Yankees.

The Indians were four outs away from gaining ground when Avila delivered a two-run shot.

Working with a 4-3 lead, Shaw took over on the mound for Cleveland in the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to slugger Miguel Cabrera, who was replaced by pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera. After Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez were retired consecutively, Carrera stole second base. After that sprint, Carrera got to jog the rest of the way to home plate.

Avila worked into a 3-2 count and Shaw fired an ill-fated slider.

"It was just a bad pitch," Shaw said. "It was the right pitch -- bad location. It's simple. If we get it outside a little more, he pops up. You get it in, he rolls it over. It's just bad location."

Avila ripped the pitch from Shaw into the right-field seats, giving Detroit a 5-4 lead and creating a raucous roar from the Comerica Park crowd. It was the same riotous response from the locals that right fielder Torii Hunter received in the top of the eighth, when he ended the inning with a diving, sliding catch to rob Yan Gomes of at least one RBI.

"He's been so good. He's set the bar so high," said Indians manager Terry Francona of Shaw. "It's not just that pitch, though. Torii Hunter catches that ball that saves two runs. There's a lot that goes into it -- more than just one pitch."

Avila's blast brought a disheartening end to see-saw affair for the Indians.

Facing Tigers lefty Kyle Lobstein, All-Star Michael Brantley ended a 10-pitch battle in the first inning by drilling a 3-2 pitch into the right-field stands for a two-run home run. The homer gave Cleveland a quick lead and marked the 19th shot of the season for Brantley.

That two-run advantage held until the third inning, when Detroit manufactured a pair of runs against Indians starter Danny Salazar, who struck out seven and was charged with three runs in his 5 2/3 innings. The third run relinquished by the right-hander came courtesy of a fourth-inning solo shot from Victor Martinez, who has hit seven of his career-high 31 homers against the Indians this year.

"I got behind in the count," Salazar said. "I wanted to get back in a good place. I just left the ball right in the middle."

Thanks to Mike Aviles, Salazar still managed to exit in line for a win.

In the fifth inning, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jesus Aguilar delivered back-to-back one-out singles and then moved up 90 feet apiece on a groundout by Michael Bourn. That set things up for Aviles, who slashed a pitch from Lobstein down the right-field line for a two-run double that propelled the Indians to a 4-3 lead.

Cleveland's bullpen helped get through Detroit's lineup unscathed in both the sixth and seventh innings, putting the Indians in position for a much-needed win.

Avila had other things in mind for the Tigers.

"It's [tough], but they have a pretty good lineup of batters," Salazar said. "I know we're trying our best. We don't want to miss pitches and we don't want to lose the game, either. But things are not always going to happen the way you want it."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Indians push back House due to matchup with Astros

Rookie southpaw to avoid club with better splits against left-handers

Indians push back House due to matchup with Astros play video for Indians push back House due to matchup with Astros

DETROIT -- T.J. House is in the midst of an historic run on the mound for the Indians, but the rookie left-hander will need to wait a little longer than normal to build on his last outing.

On Saturday, Cleveland officially announced that Zach McAllister (Monday), Corey Kluber (Tuesday), Carlos Carrasco (Wednesday) and Danny Salazar (Thursday) will start during the upcoming four-game series in Houston. Due to an unfavorable matchup in the Astros, House will return to the rotation during the next series in Minnesota.

"He's done a really good job. But basically, so has everybody else," Indians manager Terry Francona said of House. "We're at that point in the season where we're trying to win every game we can."

By that, Francona meant that Cleveland's staff examined the data and determined that it was best for the Astros to see right-handed starters during the Indians' trip to Minute Maid Park.

Heading into Saturday's action, the Astros had a .754 OPS against left-handed pitching (third in the American League), compared to a .673 OPS against right-handers (14th in the AL). Houston's .418 slugging percentage against lefties ranked fourth in the AL, while the team's .372 slugging off righties was 11th in the league.

Along the same lines, House has limited left-handed batters to a .620 OPS this season, but righties have turned in an .808 OPS against the 24-year-old.

"It's more of a matchup thing," Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway said. "Houston performs much better against lefties than they do righties. They're pretty good against lefties. And the ballpark plays very favorable to right-handed hitters, because of the short left-field porch."

In each of his past three starts, House has logged at least seven innings with no walks and no more than one earned run allowed, matching the longest such streak (done 23 times) for a Major League pitcher in the past 100 seasons. The last two pitchers to achieve the unique streak were David Price (2013) and Greg Maddux ('00).

If House is going to continue that streak, it will be on the road against the Twins.

"When we get to Minnesota," Francona said, "we'll insert T.J. [back in the rotation] where we think it [makes sense]."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Hyperextended knee forces Raburn from game

Indians utility man expected to miss multiple games

Hyperextended knee forces Raburn from game play video for Hyperextended knee forces Raburn from game

DETROIT -- Ryan Raburn's trying season with the Indians took another unfortunate turn on Saturday night.

In the fourth inning of Cleveland's 5-4 loss to the Tigers, Raburn was lifted from the contest after hyperextending his left knee. The injury is not considered serious, but the veteran utility man will likely miss at least a handful of games and may require an MRI exam if the issue persists in the coming days.

"I guess I strained the tendon there on the outside, so it hurts," Raburn said. "I guess we'll give it a few days. Hopefully, it'll calm down. The doctor doesn't see anything that's major, so hopefully after a couple days, I'll be able to get back out there."

Raburn, who was playing right field for Cleveland on Saturday, injured the knee while planting his leg to make a throw on a single by Rajai Davis in the third inning. For the bottom of the fourth, Raburn was replaced on defense by rookie outfielder Tyler Holt.

"It wasn't a ton of swelling," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But we'll see how he shows up [Sunday], see if that thing calms down or see if he's sore, and then we'll go from there."

The 33-year-old Raburn drew a walk in his lone plate appearance on Saturday night and went 2-for-3 with a home run in Friday's loss to Detroit. The veteran utility man missed the last two weeks of August with a right wrist injury that has plagued him off and on throughout what has been a down season.

Through 74 games with the Indians, Raburn has hit .200 with four home runs and 22 RBIs this season. In 21 games between July and August, he hit at just a .160 clip for the Tribe.

"I don't want a pity party, by any means," Raburn said. "It's been a tough year, but you've just got to keep battling and grinding through it. Injuries are part of the game. You just have to deal with it and go on."

It has been a dramatic drop-off from 2013, when Raburn hit .272 with 16 homers, 55 RBIs and a .901 OPS in 87 games in his first tour with the Indians. Raburn's production last season netted him a two-year contract that runs through '15, and Cleveland owns a team option for the '16 campaign.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Giambi backs up own advice with sprint from first to home

Hustle on Chisenhall's double an example of veteran's leadership

Giambi backs up own advice with sprint from first to home play video for Giambi backs up own advice with sprint from first to home

DETROIT -- No one would have said a word had Jason Giambi slowed up and stopped at third base in the ninth inning on Friday night. The Tigers had a blowout in the works and the aging veteran has spent most of this season on the disabled list.

Rather than play it safe, the 43-year-old Giambi motored around third and hustled home on Lonnie Chisenhall's double, scoring Cleveland's second run in a 7-2 loss. One day later, Giambi said it was an opportunity for him to put the words and advice he offers to his teammates into practice on the field.

"The Scotch tape held together," Giambi joked on Saturday afternoon. "It's how I've always played. That's always been the good thing, is having that opportunity to be in this clubhouse and not only helping these kids, but getting a chance to kind of show what I'm telling them. I think that's the important thing that I can still offer."

Asked about Giambi's run from first to home, Indians manager Terry Francona smiled.

"That's being a true leader," Francona said. "He says all the right things, which is awesome, but when you're that age and you go do something like that, it kind of backs up the words. That's why his words are so meaningful, because he's not that veteran and says, 'This is what I've done.' All you've got to do is look at the back of his baseball card.

"He wants to say, 'What am I doing now?' That's very impressive. I've never been around somebody like him. It's a treat."

Quote to note
"His production numbers are right on pace. That's good. If you look up at the end of the year and you see a lower batting average, that doesn't mean the last two or three months he hasn't been one of the more productive players in the game."
-- Francona, on Carlos Santana

Smoke signals
• With it being "Star Wars" night at Comerica Park for Saturday's game between the Indians and Tigers, Francona was asked for his favorite promotion. The manager said one of his favorite acts is the "Zooperstars," a group of inflatable animal-themed mascots that tour ballparks every season.

"It probably doesn't speak to my maturity," Francona said with a laugh, "but I really like the Zooperstars. I love them. Harry Canary. Clammy Sosa. I love those guys. You see like all the little kids laughing, and me."

• Entering Saturday, Santana led the Majors in walks (101). No Indians batter has led baseball in free passes since 1919 (Jack Graney). Center fielder Michael Bourn was leading the AL in triples (10). No Cleveland hitter has led the league in three-base hits since 1995 (Kenny Lofton). Shortstop Jose Ramirez led the AL in sacrifice bunts (11). The last Indians hitter to lead the league in that category was Coco Crisp (2005).

• Ramirez received a scheduled day off from starting on Saturday in Detroit, but he is expected to be back in the lineup on Sunday. Francona said he wanted to provide some rest for the 21-year-old, who had not received a day off since Aug. 21 in Minnesota.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Indians fall to Tigers, can't gain ground in race

Raburn homers, but Cleveland drops to 4 1/2 back in AL Central

Indians fall to Tigers, can't gain ground in race play video for Indians fall to Tigers, can't gain ground in race

DETROIT -- Every game and series represents a must-win situation now for the Indians. Cleveland has spent nearly the entire season only a few rungs below the postseason threshold, creating consistent hope that a surge up the standings could be around the corner.

The longer the wait, the more necessary such a streak becomes for the Indians. The wait continued after a 7-2 loss to the Tigers in the opener of a critical three-game weekend set at Comerica Park. Detroit lefty David Price handled the Tribe just fine and Carlos Carrasco flinched just enough to send Cleveland on its way to a discouraging defeat.

"It's tough. Any time you lose, it's tough," Indians right fielder Ryan Raburn said. "They're a good team. We faced one of the better pitchers in the league, and he showed why he is."

This was an opportunity for the Indians to gain ground on the team directly ahead of them in both the American League Central and AL Wild Card races. Rather than cut into the deficit, Cleveland slipped 4 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the division and now sits four games behind the Royals for the AL's second Wild Card seed.

Cleveland's goal now is to quickly move on and make sure the current 10-game trek through Detroit, Houston and Minnesota does not write the final chapter of its season.

"We need to continue to win," Carrasco said. "I hope [Danny] Salazar can come in [Saturday], he can see everything we did today and attack."

Thanks to Raburn -- a former Tiger and the recipient of plenty of boos when he returns to the Motor City -- the Indians struck first on Friday night. In the second inning, Raburn lifted the first pitch he received from Price deep to left field for a solo home run, marking his fourth shot of the year and giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead.

The early offense proved to be a tease, as Price retired 17 of the final 21 batters he faced to help the Tigers to the victory. The lefty struck out seven, scattered eight hits and walked none in 7 2/3 innings for Detroit.

"It was a little bit of luck," Raburn said of his home run. "He goes right after guys and he's going to make you put it in play. ... That's why I was trying to be aggressive. You don't want a guy with that kind of stuff getting ahead of you."

The Indians managed one other run, as pinch-hitter Jason Giambi walked and scored from first on Lonnie Chisenhall's double with two outs in the ninth inning.

Carrasco, who had gone 4-0 with a pristine 0.70 ERA in his past six starts, faced his first setback in the third inning, when Nick Castellanos singled up the middle and later scored on a double down the right-field line from Ian Kinsler. Following that game-tying breakthrough, it was old foe J.D. Martinez's time to torment the Tribe again.

In the fourth inning, Martinez pulled an 0-1 pitch from Carrasco to left-center field for a two-run home run -- his 21st -- to put Cleveland in a 3-1 hole. After Carrasco bowed out of the contest, Martinez delivered a two-run triple to pad Detroit's lead, giving the Tigers outfielder a .327 average, .727 slugging percentage and 18 RBIs in 14 games against the Indians this year.

"He continues to be a really good pitcher," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Carrasco. "Against their lineup, when you make a mistake, they can make you pay for it. J.D. Martinez, he threw him a real good breaking ball to start the at-bat, and then tried to come in off the plate ... and it caught way too much of the plate. That was obviously a big blow."

Carrasco saw his impressive winning streak snapped after being charged with four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. That represented more runs that the righty had allowed combined over his previous 38 2/3 frames in his past six starts. In fact, Carrasco's run of six straight outings with no more than one earned run allowed was the longest such run by an Indians pitcher since 1968 (Sam McDowell).

Carrasco ended with five strikeouts and two walks, exiting after giving up a one-out single to Kinsler in the seventh inning. The Indians turned to reliever C.C. Lee, who walked one and allowed two hits, including Martinez's triple. Detroit finished with four runs in the inning to spread things open and seal the loss for the Tribe.

It was an unfortunate formula for the Tribe, especially with Price on the mound.

"He's certainly one of the better pitchers in the game," Francona said. "He's been that way for a long time."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Aviles relieved to be back in action after concussion

Friday marks utility man's second start since sustaining injury

Aviles relieved to be back in action after concussion play video for Aviles relieved to be back in action after concussion

DETROIT -- It was the best strikeout of Mike Aviles' season. The veteran utility man was not pleased with the end result, but he was happy to be back in the batter's box for the Indians and officially over the concussion that kept him off the field for nearly two weeks.

Aviles returned to the Tribe with a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning of the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Twins. Aviles went down swinging, but he got his legs under him and had manager Terry Francona convinced that he was fine to start Game 2 on Thursday and again on Friday in Detroit.

"Well, you won't ever say it's always good to get a punchout," Aviles said with a laugh on Friday. "But yeah, it was definitely good to get in there and just get back into it and feel the way the game's going. ... It definitely felt like everything was a little quicker, but luckily I was able to get that first one in and kind of get everything down and feel OK."

In the second game on Thursday, Aviles went 1-for-3 with a base hit and a stolen base for the Indians in a 2-0 victory. He was involved in a handful of defensive plays at third base, and he made one error in the eighth before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.

Francona was happy to see Aviles back in the fold for the Indians.

"It was good," Francona said. "He took some pretty healthy swings. In the second game, base hit up the middle and he just missed the home run, but he moved around really well. He stole a base. He made an error. He had all kinds of stuff going on."

The 33-year-old Aviles -- hitting .245 with 13 stolen bases, 17 extra-base hits and 35 runs through 99 games entering Friday -- hit his head on a diving attempt in the first inning of a game against the Tigers on Sept. 1. He initially passed a concussion test, but he began experiencing concussion symptoms in the days that followed, prompting the team to put him through Major League Baseball's testing protocol.

"It didn't kick in until the next day when I woke up," Aviles said. "I woke up and I felt like I was in a fog. At that point, I'm like, 'I don't feel right. Something's off here. All I want to do is sleep.'... The first three days, I slept. I've never slept so much in three days like I did.

"There's no tape job. There's no pill. There's no recovery drink where you can say, 'All right, you're done. you're back to normal. It's just one of those that's frustrating, because it takes time and everyone knows me. I'm not the most patient person."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Rainout gives McAllister another starting opportunity

Righty slated to take mound for series opener against Astros

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DETROIT -- A rainout earlier this week made it possible for the Indians to pull off a doubleheader sweep of the Twins on Thursday in Cleveland. The postponement also threw a wrinkle into the Tribe's regularly scheduled rotation.

In need of a starter for Monday, the Indians will hand the ball to right-hander Zach McAllister in the opener of a four-game road series against the Astros. Cleveland had a choice of going with a sixth starter for one of Thursday's games, but it felt waiting until Monday was the best course of action.

"With the rainout, we knew we were going to [need a starter]," Indians manager Terry Francona said." So Zach will start Monday."

After McAllister goes on Monday, rotation leader Corey Kluber will get the nod for Tuesday's game to stay on his regular five-day routine. Kluber and T.J. House pitched the first and second games, respectively, on Thursday against the Twins. Cleveland has not yet determined which pitchers will start the final two games in Houston.

Francona noted that House, who has a 2.14 ERA in his past seven starts, will remain on his regular side-throwing program to potentially be ready for one of the last two games in Houston. Francona said he and pitching coach Mickey Callaway want to see how Carlos Carrasco (Friday), Danny Salazar (Saturday) and Trevor Bauer (Sunday) do in their next starts.

"We also want to see how our other starters feel," Francona said, "so we can make a better decision on not only T.J., but helping the other guys, too. Kluber's feeling really good and wants to stay on his day. So as long as he feels good physically, that's a given. So, we've already started looking at it."

McAllister, 26, has been in the bullpen this month since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus after rosters expanded on Sept. 1. The big righty opened the season in the big league rotation and went 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA in four starts before running into trouble. In his past 10 starts with Cleveland, which have come between trips back and forth between the Majors and Minors, McAllister has gone 0-6 with a 7.89 ERA, 1.71 WHIP and .880 opponents' OPS.

This season, McAllister has gone 3-6 with a 5.97 ERA in 16 games. In 2013, the right-hander went 9-9 with a 3.75 ERA in 24 starts for Cleveland.

Quote to note
"Knowing you're going to get the ball, that it's going to be handed to you every five days, it just gives you that confidence to go out there and stay on your routine and keep working on things that you want to get better at. For me, it's getting the comfortability with being around here and being in there every five days. It's helped me out."
--Rookie left-hander House

Smoke signals
• All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley was slotted into the starting lineup as the Indians' designated hitter for Friday's game in Detroit, marking the second time in the past three games that he was used as the DH. Francona said he wanted to give Brantley some rest, noting that the outfielder has been playing through some minor leg issues in the second half.

"He's played just about every game," Francona said. "He played 18 [innings in Thursday's doubleheader] with one of them as DH. His bat is so important for us, he's so good, that it's hard to give him a day off. ... I just thought, 'Hey man, after the 18 innings yesterday, let's give him a chance to [rest a little]."

Carlos Santana belted one home run in each game of Thursday's twin bill with Minnesota, marking only the third time in the past 20 seasons that a Major League player has hit a homer to put his team ahead for good in both games of a doubleheader. Kansas City's Eric Hosmer (Aug. 16, 2013) and Boston's Trot Nixon (Oct. 5, 2001) also accomplished the unique feat. The last Cleveland player to do so was Max Alvis on June 17, 1964.

• House has logged at least seven innings with no walks and no more than one earned run allowed in three straight starts, equaling the longest such streak (done 23 times) by a Major League pitcher in the past 100 seasons. Dating back to 1914, House is the first rookie lefty to have at least three such outings in a single season.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

Twin bill sweep helps Tribe's October push

Rookie House fans eight in seven shutout frames; Santana goes yard

Twin bill sweep helps Tribe's October push play video for Twin bill sweep helps Tribe's October push

CLEVELAND -- There was a point in time when lefty T.J. House was considered a temporary solution for an embattled rotation. With each start he has logged for the Indians, the rookie has opened eyes and made it look like Cleveland has an unexpected fixture for the future.

On Thursday, House took the mound in the second game of a doubleheader with the Twins and delivered a brilliant performance. On the heels of a stellar outing by Corey Kluber in the first tilt, House handled Minnesota's lineup with apparent ease en route to a 2-0 victory in Game 2 at Progressive Field.

"Finding pitching is one of the best feelings," Indians manager Terry Francona said of House's emergence. "We didn't knock the ball around the ballpark, but because of the way he pitched, it ends up being a really good day."

The twin bill was necessitated by a rainout of Wednesday's scheduled contest between the American League Central foes, and marked the fifth doubleheader of the year for Cleveland. At this stage of the season, the Indians need every win they can get, so sweeping the traditional double-dip helped the Tribe avoid losing any ground in the AL playoff race.

With Detroit idle on Thursday, Cleveland (76-69) trimmed its deficit to 3 1/2 games in the hunt for the AL's second Wild Card spot. The Indians pulled within four games of the AL Central-leading Royals, who lost to the Red Sox, 6-3, on Thursday night. Cleveland now embarks on a 10-game road trip, which begins with a three-game weekend series in Detroit.

The Indians know what is at stake.

"Heading to Detroit, you want to be on a high note," House said. "We have three big games ahead of us. You want to make sure you win them all when you can. Obviously, we lost the first game of this series, but we came back and got both of them today. I'm excited with where we're headed. We have a good ballclub and we're [going] in the right direction."

In the opener of Thursday's doubleheader, Kluber worked into the ninth inning, and the Tribe's offense broke out of its recent funk in an 8-2 rout over Minnesota. Pitching has been Cleveland's strength in the season's second half, and the duo of Kluber and House continued that encouraging development by limiting the Twins to just those two runs over 15 1/3 combined innings.

The 24-year-old House (3-3, 3.42 ERA) matched career bests in innings (seven) and strikeouts (eight), ending with no walks and four hits allowed in the win. In four of the first five frames, the lefty registered 10 or fewer pitches and faced the minimum. House allowed one hit in each of the first three innings, but sidestepped harm with the help of a pair of double plays.

It marked the third consecutive start in which House logged at least seven innings with no walks and no more than one earned run allowed, tying the longest such streak in the Majors in the past 100 seasons. The last two pitchers to accomplish the unique feat -- never done previously by a Cleveland player -- were David Price (2013) and Greg Maddux (2000).

"I would say probably about a month ago, I really started feeling comfortable around here," House said. "We had been working really hard in my bullpen sessions, tracking my mechanics, making sure my ball was staying on a good plane. With that Kansas City start [on Aug. 31], it just got on a roll, and right now I'm riding with it and hoping that it stays."

In the third inning, Brian Dozier sent a pitch from House to the warning track in left-center field, where All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley tracked it down. Chris Parmelee was caught too far off first base on the play, giving Brantley and shortstop Jose Ramirez enough time to relay the ball to first baseman Chris Gimenez for the inning's final out.

Carlos Santana registered the first of his two RBIs in the fourth inning. With one out, he drilled a 1-2 offering from Twins right-hander Ricky Nolasco to deep right field for a home run, giving him a team-leading 27 shots on the season. Santana, who homered in Game 1 of the doubleheader, also equaled a team record (set by him in 2007) for homers by a switch-hitter.

Santana added an RBI single off Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar in the eighth inning for a key insurance run.

"I don't think about home runs," Santana said. "I just want to finish strong."

House and the Tribe's bullpen made the slim lead hold up for an important win. Setup man Bryan Shaw avoided the potential harm of an error in the eighth inning, and closer Cody Allen picked up his 20th save of the year with a clean ninth.

House bounced between Triple-A and the Majors through May and July, but he became a regular part of the rotation in the second half. Over his past seven turns for the Tribe, he has posted a 2.14 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. In his last three starts, House has allowed only two earned runs with no walks and 20 strikeouts in 21 innings.

"It's really exciting to watch his development," Francona said. "This is a kid that's doing it right in the midst of when we need to win every game."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["top_pitching_performances" ] }

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Kluber takes place among game's elite

Right-hander's rise helps put Indians in good position for now and the future

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MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

CLEVELAND -- The small but appreciative Progressive Field crowd stood and applauded for Corey Kluber as he came off the mound Thursday afternoon, a common sight in his nearly American League Cy Young Award-worthy season.

Equally common, of course, was the lack of reaction from Kluber himself. Head down, eyes unflinching, mind still processing all that was and will be, Kluber didn't acknowledge a single soul. If you didn't know him better -- and the truth is that his matter-of-fact manner dictates that we don't know him well at all -- you'd assume he's either hard of hearing or hard-hearted, though he insists that's not the case.

"That's just me being locked in," Kluber explained. "It's just a habit."

Kluber is entitled to his habits, no matter how much seemingly unrequited love they engender. He is, after all, putting a final flourish on his season of ascent, and the Tribe has its barely breathing postseason hopes to thank for his efforts.

When Kluber nearly went the distance in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Twins on Thursday -- the latest "Most Important Day of the Season" for the Indians, immediately replaced the following morning -- he set the stage for a sweep of the low-rung division rivals, a sweep that allows Cleveland to enter the weekend in Detroit with a difficult but not impossible deficit of four games in the Central (three if its ninth-inning lead in a suspended game holds) and 3 1/2 in the AL Wild Card standings.

"Until we're eliminated," Kluber said, "we've got a chance."

Impenetrable truth, that.

In the 8-2 win, Kluber fell two outs shy of a second consecutive complete game, and he turned in his fifth start of the season in which he worked eight innings or more. What separated this start from many of the rest, however, was the rare bit of run support Kluber received from a Tribe offense that has struggled not just down the stretch but almost every time he takes the mound.

This actually might be the most impressive attribute of Kluber's breakout campaign. It's not necessarily the fact that he's gone 15-9 with a 2.45 ERA, struck out 230 in 212 2/3 innings and now turned in a Major League-best 29 straight consecutive starts allowing four earned runs or fewer. It might be that Kluber has seen 13 of the 31 games he's started decided by two runs or less -- and seven more decided by three runs -- and always kept his composure.

"I think that's been vastly overlooked," Terry Francona said. "It seems like every game he pitches, he doesn't have that wiggle room where you can make a mistake. And he just continues to go out and grind through it. His innings have been -- when I say stressful, I don't mean so much physically -- but it seems like every inning there's no margin for error."

The Indians, as an organization, don't have much margin for error, either, which is why an unexpected success story like Kluber's is so vital to their survival in the standings.

Don't get me wrong. They liked Kluber when they acquired him from the Padres in the three-team trade that sent Jake Westbrook to the Cardinals in 2010. After all, he had a 10-strikeouts-per-nine mark in Double-A at the time of the trade, and that's an eye-catching rate at any level.

What Cleveland could not have imagined, however, was that Kluber would almost totally revamp his arsenal and become the every-fifth-day force he now is. The two pitches he uses most frequently are a two-seam fastball and a cutter. Combined, they account for more than three-quarters of Kluber's repertoire. But he didn't throw either pitch until 2011. In 2012, Kluber was given a late-season opportunity at the big league level, nearly decapitated Derek Jeter one night and generally had his ups and downs. Last season, Kluber showed flashes of brilliance, flirting with consistency. This year, he's been the total package.

And the benefit of Kluber's late bloom is that he's under the Indians' contractual control through 2018, at which point he'll be 33 years old.

"I just think he's been so amazingly consistent and at such a high level that he's established himself as one of the better pitchers in the game," Francona said. "Just knowing him like we do, I don't see that going anywhere, except getting better."

While Justin Masterson's free-agent year went awry, Kluber became the backbone of a burgeoning starting staff on a team that has demonstrated the benefits of patience with young pitchers.

It's probably a bit presumptuous to start labeling Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar as the "Big Four," as Peter Gammons recently did. Carrasco, after all, is only seven starts into his return to the rotation, however brilliant (0.70 ERA, .179 opponents' average) those seven starts have been. Bauer is still learning how to attack hitters early in counts and early in games. And Salazar, with an adjusted ERA below that of league average, is still unformed enough in his routine that he blamed his last outing, when he was roughed up for six runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Angels, on the matinee start time.

Still, these are relatively fresh arms here in the pennant push because of Francona's famously aggressive use of the bullpen (the Indians are on track to break their own AL record for games in relief). And even if their efforts fall short, their Major League-best 2.14 starters' ERA dating back to Aug. 9 (with fifth starter T.J. House another factor in that feat) at least sets up the Tribe for a more hopeful future.

That begins with Kluber. Odds are he will not be your 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner, because King Felix Hernandez is on track to have him beat, ever so slightly, in innings and ERA, as well as, to the extent that such a thing matters, prestige.

Clearly, though, Kluber has taken his place among the elite arms in the game. And he's cemented that status recently with some slight mechanical adjustments that have fended off all recent worries about fatigue in what is, essentially, his first full season (he missed some time last year with a finger injury).

"My direction was just off, I was getting too closed," Kluber said. "When it's not a major overhaul and just a little tweak, it's pretty easy to get it back to where you want it."

The Indians aren't quite where they want to be, but that they are relevant at all is a big credit to Kluber. His has been a season worthy of applause, whether he acknowledges it or not.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kluber leads Tribe to Game 1 win vs. Twins

Right-hander fans seven in 8 1/3 innings; Santana, Gomes go yard

Kluber leads Tribe to Game 1 win vs. Twins play video for Kluber leads Tribe to Game 1 win vs. Twins

CLEVELAND -- One of the aspects of Corey Kluber's season that has been impressive is the pitcher's ability to overcome a slim margin for error. The right-hander has routinely worked with low run support, magnifying the importance of every single pitch.

In the first game of a doubleheader on Thursday, Kluber was afforded more breathing room than he has been accustomed to this year. Powered by the bats of Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana, Kluber was able to settle in, find a comfort zone and help Cleveland cruise to an 8-2 romp over the Twins at Progressive Field.

"When you have a big lead like that," Kluber said, "you can go out there and be extra aggressive pounding the strike zone. You've got a little margin to work with and a lot of times, when teams get down big, they're going to come out there and try to force the issue a little bit. You can kind of use that against them, too."

With Kluber's 8 1/3 stellar innings, marking the 12th time this season he has pitched at least into the eighth, the righty collected his 15th win. He became the first Indians pitcher to have at least that many victories in a season since lefty Cliff Lee won 22 in 2008 en route to the American League Cy Young Award. In the win, Kluber also lowered his ERA to 2.45.

Cleveland is four games behind the first-place Royals in the AL Central race and is 3 1/2 games back of the division-rival Tigers in the battle for the AL's second Wild Card. The Indians have Kluber to thank for helping lead what has been an incredible second-half turnaround for the rotation, which has kept Tribe in the postseason picture.

Minnesota's lone breakthrough against Kluber in the first eight frames came in the first inning, when Danny Santana shot a pitch down the right-field line for a leadoff double and then scored on a two-out base hit by Kennys Vargas. Following Vargas' single, Kluber held the Twins to a 1-for-19 showing through the end of the seventh inning.

The Twins struck for one run in the ninth off Kluber, but his performance to that point provided Cleveland's offense with more than enough time to mount an attack.

Against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, Santana belted a two-run home run in the first inning, and Gomes added a solo shot in the second. Cleveland had three runs two innings into the game, after scoring three runs or fewer in eight of Kluber's previous nine starts, and in 22 of the team's past 32 games overall.

"[Kluber] got that wiggle room and he went out and pounded the zone," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It seems like every game he pitches, he doesn't ever have that wiggle room where, if you make a mistake, it seems like it's always a one-run game. He just continues to go out and grind through it."

In the third inning, Gomes highlighted a four-run outburst by sending a pitch from Gibson off the wall in left field for a two-run double with the bases loaded. Michael Brantley added an RBI single and Lonnie Chisenhall chipped in a sacrifice fly in the inning, making for an ugly final frame for the Minnesota starter. In all, Gibson was charged with seven runs on seven hits in the loss.

"It's always a good feeling when you're not playing from behind," Francona said. "And then we kept swinging. We did a really good job, because Gibson has been tough, not only against some of the other [teams], but against us."

Brantley ended with two RBIs in the win, giving him 91 on the season. Cleveland has not had a player end with at least 100 RBIs in one season since Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner accomplished the feat in 2007.

That was more than sufficient for Kluber, who issued no walks, scattered eight hits and ended with seven strikeouts in the win. In his candidacy for the AL Cy Young Award, Kluber has also fashioned a 1.56 ERA with 88 strikeouts and 14 walks in 81 innings (11 starts) in the season's second half.

"[Kluber has] been so amazingly consistent and at a high level," Francona said. "He's established himself as one of the better pitchers in the game. Just by knowing him like we do, I don't see that going anywhere, except maybe getting better."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Santana ties own club mark for HRs by switch-hitter

First baseman has 27 homers after going yard in both of Tribe's Thursday wins

Santana ties own club mark for HRs by switch-hitter play video for Santana ties own club mark for HRs by switch-hitter

CLEVELAND -- Two months into the season, it seemed improbable that Carlos Santana would find his way into the record book for the Indians. After another strong showing in Thursday's doubleheader sweep of the Twins, that is exactly where Santana's name belongs.

With one home run in each of Cleveland's wins over Minnesota, Santana equaled the franchise's single-season record for home runs by a switch-hitter with 27 on the year. The first baseman previously broke that record during his breakout 2011 campaign.

"For me, it's special every day when I'm in the lineup," Santana said. "I'm not thinking about tying my home runs. What's very important for me is finishing strong. I know what kind of hitter I want to be. I know I tied it, because my friends reminded me. They're so happy. It's a special day for me today. Tomorrow, too."

More impressive than the record itself might be the path Santana took to reach the mark.

Two months into this season, Santana struggled mightily, seeing his average drop to .159 before a concussion sent him to the disabled list on May 25. Through 50 games and 220 plate appearances at that point, which happened to be Santana's final game as a catcher this season, he had only six home runs, 17 RBIs and a .628 OPS.

After returning in early June, Santana's previous role as a third baseman and part-time catcher were scrapped in favor of a move across the diamond to first base. Heading into Thursday's action, Santana had a .912 OPS dating back to the beginning of June. In that same span, he posted a .276 average with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in 363 plate appearances.

"The fact that he wasn't hitting earlier was kind of peculiar, because he's such a good hitter," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "But then, I still fall back on that hitters find their level. They don't always do it in the most consistent manner, but that's what you're seeing. He's gone through a couple stretches where he's been so dangerous. It's not just been singles. It's been a lot of production.

"It was definitely hard for him -- there's no getting around it, man. I don't think he's ever not hit like that before, but he's just too good. Fortunately, once he found it, it's been staying there pretty consistently."

That solid comeback does not even include Thursday's heroics.

In an 8-2 win in Game 1, Santana delivered a two-run home run in the first inning and made a handful of stellar defensive plays at first base. In a 2-0 victory over the Twins in the second contest, Santana accounted for all of the Tribe's offense, launching a solo homer in the fourth inning and contributing an RBI single in the eighth.

On the season, Santana has a .235/.369/.449 slash line to go along with 50 extra-base hits, 77 RBIs and a Major League-leading 101 walks in 136 games. Santana is the first switch-hitter in the Majors to achieve at least 25 homers and 100 walks in a season since 2004 (Lance Berkman) and joins Travis Hafner, Jim Thome, Andre Thornton and Al Rosen as the only Cleveland hitters to accomplish that feat.

"It's in the past. I'm not thinking about that right now," Santana said of his showing in the first two months. "Everyone knows, the fans know, that I had a very slow start. But this is a long season. I've kept focused and didn't get down. Right now, I feel great and I'm seeing the ball great and playing good."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Leader of 9/11 relief efforts tosses first pitch

Tribe pays tribute with color guard presentation, moment of silence

Leader of 9/11 relief efforts tosses first pitch play video for Leader of 9/11 relief efforts tosses first pitch

CLEVELAND -- Thirteen years have passed since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Time might help heal wounds, but it certainly does not erase memories.

Before the Indians took on the Twins on Thursday afternoon, Cleveland paid tribute to those lost more than a decade ago and honored those who served the country on that day and in the years since. As part of the pregame ceremony, Major George Polarek, the director of the Salvation Army's Sept. 11 World Trade Center relief efforts, threw out the first pitch.

"Nine-eleven is an opportunity to be reminded of the character of the American citizen," Polarek said, "the common person who wants to volunteer or contribute. They are the means by which the needs after disasters are all fulfilled, because of the American people and how they consider these things to be important."

Polarek -- a guest of the local Salvation Army for Thursday's game -- was on Long Island in New York on Sept. 11, 2001. The next day, he led Salvation Army's efforts at Ground Zero, managing broad-based logistics and assisting survivors and family members of those affected by the attacks.

For his leadership, Polarek earned recognition from then-New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Polarek has also served in leadership roles during relief efforts after Hurrican Katrina, as well as in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Samoa, New Zealand, Haiti and Japan.

Prior to Thursday's game, the Indians also held a moment of silence and had a Marine Corps Color Guard present the colors before the national anthem.

Quote to note
"We're playing a lot of younger guys. I think we're getting a pretty big kick out of that. I think it's been good for everybody. It's created some enthusiasm, but I think some of our guys are learning that it's a grind, man. Sometimes the game beats you up a little bit."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona

Smoke signals
• Indians rookie Jesus Aguilar has hit just .130 (3-for-23) with no extra-base hits through 12 games with the Major League club this season. In 118 games with Triple-A Columbus this year, the 24-year-old first baseman posted a .304/.395/.511 slash line with 19 homers, 31 doubles and 77 RBIs.

"His career wouldn't be defined by his 30 or 40 at-bats here. That's the truth," Francona said. "When you're in Double-A or Triple-A or the Major Leagues, and you're playing every day and you get comfortable, you can see what a guy can do. When a guy's used sparingly, especially when he's not used to being used like that, sometimes you don't swing the bat like you can."

• Indians first baseman Carlos Santana entered play Thursday with a Major League-leading 101 walks this season. Cleveland has not had a player lead all of baseball in walks since 1919, when Jack Graney achieved the feat with 105 free passes. The last Indians batter to lead the American League in walks was Jim Thome (122) in 2002.

• Entering Thursday's action, the Indians' rotation had a Major League-leading 2.22 ERA (43 earned runs in 174 1/3 innings) in the 28 games dating back to Aug. 9. As a whole, the Cleveland pitching staff had a 3.02 ERA in the second half, ranking the team fifth overall in the Majors in that category.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Aviles returns to game action in doubleheader

Aviles returns to game action in doubleheader play video for Aviles returns to game action in doubleheader

CLEVELAND -- Considering the unknowns that are involved with a concussion, Cleveland is counting its blessings that Mike Aviles needed fewer than two weeks of recovery time.

Prior to Thursday's 8-2 win over the Twins in Game 1 of a doubleheader, Indians manager Terry Francona noted that Aviles was cleared by both the team's medical staff and Major League Baseball to resume playing. The veteran utility man came off the bench for the first game and was given the start at third base for the second game against Minnesota.

"He kind of came through it quick, which is good," Francona said. "He looks really good. The hard thing for me is, because of the weather, we didn't get on the field. So I've got to figure out how to handle [easing him back into the mix]."

Due to a rainout on Wednesday night and the early start on Thursday, the Indians did not have pregame workouts on the field. Under the circumstances, Francona and Cleveland's coaching staff were not able to see Aviles run through drills beyond his activities indoors, so the manager wanted to be smart about how he used the utility man out of the gate.

Francona noted that Aviles has a good track record against Minnesota's Game 2 starter, Ricky Nolasco. Heading into Thursday's action, Aviles had a .636 (7-for-11) career average with one homer and four RBIs against the Twins righty.

Before throwing Aviles into the lineup against Nolasco, though, Francona gave him a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning of Game 1. Aviles struck out swinging.

In the first inning of Cleveland's tilt against the Tigers on Sept. 1, Aviles made a diving attempt on a fly ball from Ian Kinsler, but came up short and hit his head on the ground. Aviles remained in the game for three innings before being removed with what was initially described by the Indians as "whiplash" symptoms. He began experiencing concussion symptoms in the following days.

With rosters expanded in September, the Indians did not need to place Aviles on MLB's seven-day concussion list, but he still followed the league's standard protocol for such injuries. Following a gradual return to baseball activities, Aviles was able to run through nearly an entire normal pregame routine by Tuesday.

Entering Thursday, Aviles had hit .245 with five home runs, 12 doubles, 12 stolen bases, 33 RBIs and 35 runs scored in 97 games for Cleveland this year.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kipnis doesn't have one reason for offensive struggles

Oblique issue, new contract have impacted second baseman's season

Kipnis doesn't have one reason for offensive struggles play video for Kipnis doesn't have one reason for offensive struggles

CLEVELAND -- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis does not believe there is a simple answer for his subpar season. The early-season oblique issue has had a ripple effect on the entire year. He has not flashed his signature opposite-field power. He has dealt with the pressures of a new contract.

"It's just been a bunch of things," Kipnis said on Wednesday afternoon. "I've learned a lot from it. I've grown a lot from it. I've definitely learned to handle this game, the ups and downs, a lot better."

Coming off a breakout All-Star campaign a year ago, Kipnis signed a six-year extension worth $52.5 million that includes a team option that could keep him in Cleveland through 2020. With only a few weeks remaining on the Tribe's regular-season slate, Kipnis feels that the new deal had a negative effect on his approach early in the year.

Rather than relaxing, Kipnis felt pressure to perform to the standards of his paycheck.

"I might've taken it the wrong way," Kipnis said. "There's one of two ways to go abut it. There's either, 'Hey, I got the security and the money. Now I can go out and just play the game of baseball.' "I took the way where, 'I got this money, I've got to live up to it.' So, I might've pressed at the beginning. I might've tried to do too much. In hindsight, it could've hurt me and kind of played a little part in this season.

"You can go one of two ways, but obviously it doesn't mean I'm going that way next year or the year after."

Through 117 games this season, the 27-year-old Kipnis has turned in a .248/.320/.344 slash line. That goes along with six homers, 24 doubles, one triple, 41 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and 60 runs.

Last year, he hit .284/.366/.452 with 17 homers, 36 doubles, four triples, 84 RBIs, 30 stolen bases and 86 runs in Cleveland's run to the American League Wild Card Game.

On April 29, Kipnis injured his right oblique swinging at an outside pitch in a game against the Angels. The second baseman returned on May 28 and has posted a .332 slugging percentage with three home runs in 365 at-bats. There have been lingering problems with the oblique at times.

Attacking outside pitches was a strength of Kipnis' last season, when he peppered left-field walls around the league for extra-base hits. This year, the second baseman has enjoyed the same kind of success to the opposite field.

"The oblique's not an excuse," Kipnis countered. "There's good days and bad days with it, but there's also good days and bad days with hitting when you're at full health. At times, there was hesitancy to go after that pitch. At times, it was weak. It wasn't re-strengthened yet. And there are times when it was just a bad swing. It really was. It's not just the oblique."

During a recent game in Cleveland, Kipnis paused at the top step of the dugout and chatted with manager Terry Francona.

"He was walking up to the plate," Francona said. "I was trying to give him a litle pep talk and he was like, 'I realize now, I don't play for the money.'"

What did Kipnis mean?

"Judging by the two [full] seasons," Kipnis said, "if I had to pick, I'd take the minimum league salary and be hitting well and helping this team, over more money and struggling. A lot has happened since last year. It's a frustrating game and it can be frustrating at times and kind of test your confidence and you question your abilities.

"But, that's one of the biggest things about this game, is keeping the part above your shoulders the right way and having enough confidence in yourself."

Quote to note
"Screaming and yelling doesn't make guys swing the bat. It doesn't make you score runs. This is a game of almost who can handle the frustration the best, because there's so much of it. You've got to keep plugging away. Even on nights where maybe you're not swinging the bats well, if you find a way to be one run better, you go home and you did your job."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona

Smoke signals
• Thursday's traditional doubleheader with the Twins will mark the fourth twin bill of the season for Cleveland. The Indians also had doubleheaders against the A's (April 2), Padres (April 9), Tigers (July 19) and D-backs (Aug. 13). The last time the Indians played five doubleheaders in a single season was in 2000.

• Francona noted that Indians utility man Mike Aviles, who has been sidelined with concussion-like symptoms since Sept. 1, felt good after taking part in most of Tuesday's pregame activities. It is possible that Aviles will gain clearance to return to game action by Thursday or Friday at the earliest.

• Indians All-Star Michael Brantley has hit .314 with 18 home runs, 19 stolen bases and 89 RBIs through 139 games this season. Entering Wednesday's action, Brantley was the only player in the Majors with at least a .300 average, 15 homers, 15 stolen bases and 85 RBIs.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Four-batter stretch derails Bauer's strong start

Indians righty fans eight Twins, but allows four runs in decisive fourth

Four-batter stretch derails Bauer's strong start play video for Four-batter stretch derails Bauer's strong start

CLEVELAND -- Four batters. That was all it took to derail Trevor Bauer and the Indians on Tuesday night.

In the opener of a three-game set with the Twins, Bauer turned in a performance that was solid throughout with the exception of one brief, damaging lapse. In light of a lack of much run support, a swift four-run setback for the right-hander in the fourth inning was sufficient in sending the Tribe to a 4-3 loss at Progressive Field.

Bauer was in no mood for finding silver linings.

"They scored enough to win," Bauer said of Cleveland's offense. "I didn't do my job."

It marked the second loss in a row and fifth defeat in the past nine games for a Cleveland club that is trying to stay within striking distance of the American League playoff race.

The Indians are now positioned five games back of both the Royals and Tigers, who are tied atop the AL Central standings. In the AL Wild Card race, Cleveland was five games back of the second spot, pending the result of Seattle's late game with the Astros. Each loss at this stage carries a little more sting for the Tribe.

"It's real frustrating. We know what's at stake," Indians center fielder Michael Bourn said. "We need to win games like that to stay in the [race]. The more we lose, the more we fall behind. We put ourself in a deeper hole. We almost have to, not win out, but close to it, to make it to the playoffs. Either we do it or we don't. There's no hiding from it."

Bauer was strong out of the gates, shaking off his season-long woes in the first inning and retiring the first 11 Twins batters he faced. That stretch took him two outs into the fourth, when Joe Mauer got Minnesota going with a double to left field. Kennys Vargas followed with an RBI double of his own and Trevor Plouffe then added a run-scoring single.

That set things up for Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia, who crushed the first pitch he saw from Bauer for a towering two-run shot to right field. The home run, which was the 16th of the season for Arcia, effectively erased the early work by Cleveland's offense and pushed Minnesota to a 4-2 advantage.

The last three hits off Bauer came in a span of three pitches.

"He pitched really well," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He had that one four-hitter sequence where he gave up the bloop double and then three straight pitches, all the damage was done, and they made it hold up."

Twins righty Trevor May, who entered the evening with a 9.38 ERA, logged five innings and limited the Indians to just two runs. Both came in the second, when Carlos Santana led off with a single and Jason Kipnis delivered a double. A groundout from Lonnie Chisenhall and a sacrifice fly from Yan Gomes plated a pair of runs to give Cleveland an early lead.

That is where the Tribe's offense ended against May.

May walked the first two hitters he faced in the fourth inning, but then induced a trio of flyouts to escape harm. In the fifth, Cleveland had a runner on third with two outs, and later runners on the corners, but May created a rally-ending groundout off the bat of Santana. On the night, the Tribe's lineup finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, stranding eight in the process.

"Runs have been hard to come by [for] more than a couple days," Francona said. "We got baserunners but we didn't do anything with runners in scoring position. So, that's pretty much the outcome."

The Indians made a late push against Minnesota's bullpen in the eighth, when Santana doubled, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a base hit from Gomes. At that juncture, Francona turned to veteran Jason Giambi as a pinch-hitter, but the aging slugger flied out to left field to end the inning.

The anemic offensive showing -- the eighth time in the past 10 games that Cleveland scored three or fewer runs -- made for a hard-luck loss for Bauer. The right-hander held the Twins to an 0-for-23 showing, excluding the four-batter stretch in the fourth. Bauer struck out eight and walked one in eight innings.

"I just go out and try to execute pitches and get guys out," Bauer said. "That's all I tried to do today. I didn't really feel too well today. I went out there and gave it all I had, but it didn't turn out in my favor."

Bauer's effort did not go unnoticed.

"It happened quick," Francona said of Minnesota's four runs, "but before and after, he was tremendous. You can't take them off the board, but you don't want to forget how well he pitched, either."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Indians-Royals to resume suspended game on Sept. 22

Indians-Royals to resume suspended game on Sept. 22 play video for Indians-Royals to resume suspended game on Sept. 22

CLEVELAND -- The Indians are two weeks and three outs away from possibly clinching a much-needed win over the American League Central-leading Royals.

On Tuesday, Cleveland announced that its rain-suspended game against the Royals on Aug. 31 in Kansas City will be made up prior to the teams' regularly-scheduled contest on Sept. 22, in Cleveland. The first pitch for the continuation of the suspended game is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET.

The Progressive Field gates will open at 5 p.m. ET and fans holding tickets to the Sept. 22 tilt against the Royals will be permitted to enter to take in the end of the suspended game. The first game will resume with Cleveland holding a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 10th inning and the Royals batting.

Any players used, but then removed from the game on Aug. 31 will be ineligible to take part in the conclusion of the suspended game. That short list includes starter T.J. House, infielder Mike Aviles and relievers Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen. Lefty Kyle Crockett, who was announced before throwing a pitch in the 10th inning, can be used or relieved for another pitcher by Tribe manager Terry Francona.

Any players added to Cleveland's roster in the time since the Aug. 31 suspended game are eligible for use in the contest's conclusion. The originally-scheduled game for Sept. 22 will begin as planned at 7:05 p.m. ET with normal pregame ceremonies.

Quote to note
"It creates some opportunity and some hope for teams that may not quite be on the cusp of winning a division. Because of that, you're still getting into the middle of September and there's such meaningful games, which is great. So, I think for fans, it's win-win. For players, it's win and then be careful what you wish for because you've got a one-game playoff."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona, on the second Wild Card

Smoke signals
• Entering Tuesday, Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis had hit .259 with no homers and only five RBIs in his last 35 games, dating back to Aug. 1. On the year, Kipnis had a .248 average with six homers, 41 RBIs and a .660 OPS through 116 games. It is a noticeable drop-off from 2013, when he hit .284 with 17 homers, 84 RBIs and an .818 OPS for Cleveland.

"This has been tough on Kip. He is not hitting the ball like he knows he can," Francona said. "Even if his batting average is a little low at the end of the year or whatever, if he got hot for the last two weeks, we're a different team. He of all people has the ability to do that. We saw that last year. I still have so much confidence in him."

• Class A Lake County is scheduled to play Kane County in the best-of-five Midwest League championship series, beginning Wednesday. In Lake County's first four playoff games, outfielder Clint Frazier (selected in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft) has helped lead the offense by hitting .438 (7-for-16) with a home run, three doubles, three RBIs and five runs scored.

• The Indians headed into Tuesday's game with a .597 (43-29) winning percentage at home this season. Dating back to the 2000 season, Cleveland has only finished with a home-winning percentage of at least .600 twice: 2007 (.638, 51-29) and 2013 (.630, 51-30).

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Dickerson odd man out, outrighted to Triple-A Columbus

Dickerson odd man out, outrighted to Triple-A Columbus play video for Dickerson odd man out, outrighted to Triple-A Columbus

CLEVELAND -- The Indians added Chris Dickerson to the fold two months ago when the team's outfield depth was depleted and thin. With the landscape now entirely different, Dickerson became the odd man out for Cleveland over the past two weeks.

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Twins, the Indians sent Dickerson outright to Triple-A Columbus, which had its season end last week. The move reduced Cleveland's active roster to 34 players and now gives the club a chance to place a higher priority on some of its younger players down the stretch.

Indians manager Terry Francona added that the recent acquisition of outfielder J.B. Shuck -- obtained from the Angels for cash considerations on Friday -- made Dickerson expendable.

"All of a sudden, you have a bench job basically the guys are kind of the same skill set," Francona said. "Sometimes you can try to create spots for two guys and then neither one gets the proper amount of [playing time]. So we told C.D., 'For better or worse, we made a decision to go with Shuck and allow you a chance to move on, rather than have you just sit here.'"

The Indians currenty have their starting outfield trio of left fielder Michael Brantley, center fielder Michael Bourn and right fielder David Murphy together again. Bourn was dealing with left hamstring woes when Dickerson was acquired via trade from the Pirates on July 7, and Murphy recently returned from a month-long bout with a right oblique strain.

Behind the Tribe's three regular outfielders, the team has veteran utility man Ryan Raburn, Shuck and rookies Tyler Holt and Zach Walters. Cleveland also has utility man Mike Aviles (an option in all three outfield spots) on the active roster, though he has been recovering from concussion-like symptoms since being removed from a game on Sept. 1.

In 41 games for the Indians, the 32-year-old Dickerson hit .224 with two home runs, six RBIs and a .636 OPS. Both homers and all six RBIs came within his first 20 games, during which he hit .314 with an .887 OPS in 51 at-bats. In the 21 games since that stretch, dating back to Aug. 4, Dickerson posted a .128 (6-for-47) average with a paltry .360 OPS.

Over the past couple of weeks, Dickerson also missed some games due to some "nagging" injuries, according to Francona.

"When he first came up, he got real hot and he really helped us," Francona said. "And then, that last 100 at-bats was tough -- a lot of strikeouts. Sometimes, not being available [due to injuries] was a little bit difficult, especially before September. But you just deal with that stuff. That's part of the game."

Across parts of seven years in the Majors, Dickerson has hit .257 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs in 355 games between stints with the Reds, Brewers, Yankees, Orioles and Indians.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Indians' 2015 regular-season schedule unveiled

Cleveland to open in Houston, face NL Central in Interleague Play

Indians' 2015 regular-season schedule unveiled

CLEVELAND -- Though the focus is firmly on the last three weeks of a 2014 season in which the Indians are still alive in the playoff chase, Monday's release of the '15 Major League schedule allows for one brief foray into the future.

Cleveland's 2015 schedule measures up as manageable, on the whole, and not just because it doesn't feature any "30 games in 30 days" stretches like the one the Indians, thanks to rainouts and revisions, are currently enduring.

First things first, the Tribe will open the season in Houston, with three games against the Astros on April 6, 8 and 9, and no chance of delays thanks to that Minute Maid Park roof.

And while nobody can predict what Mother Nature has in store for a Cleveland spring, the later start to the season and the three-game slate on the road will give the Progressive Field grounds crew a few more days to recover from the winter, with the home opener set for Friday, April 10, against the American League Central-rival Tigers.

As far as the rest of the schedule is concerned, the Indians won't have as many West Coast visits as the Interleague schedule necessitated this season. Instead of mixing it up with the National League West, the Tribe will be playing the entire NL slate against the NL Central.

That means home games against the Cardinals (May 12-14), Reds (May 22-24), Cubs (June 17-18) and Brewers (Aug. 25-26). Those Reds games are notable, because it will mark the first time since 2011 that the Cleveland portion of the Ohio Cup is played on a weekend, giving more fans the opportunity to make the trek up Interstate 71.

The Interleague schedule will also bring the Indians to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs (June 15-16) for the first time since 2009, and to PNC Park to play the Pirates (July 3-5) for the first time since '10. They'll also travel to Cincinnati (July 17-19, another weekend series) and Milwaukee (July 21-22).

All told, the Indians will make just two 10-game trips, and they are sure to rank low on the "miles traveled" list in 2015.

In yet another concession to Mother Nature, the Tribe will have just nine home games against 12 road games in April. May, June and July will provide proper balance of the home and road dates, while August (11 home, 16 road) skews one way and September/October (18 home, 14 road) the other. The Indians will play 18 of their last 24 at home, including the final series of the regular season -- Oct. 2-4 against the Red Sox.

Obviously, they hope that heavy dose of home games comes in the midst of another postseason push.

Season tickets for the 2015 slate will go on sale soon, and fans can secure the opportunity for advance purchases of '14 postseason tickets by placing a deposit now. For more information, visit www.Indians.com/PlayoffPayoff.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Salazar chased early as Indians drop makeup game

Six-run fifth puts Tribe in big hole; Chisenhall drives in all three runs

Salazar chased early as Indians drop makeup game play video for Salazar chased early as Indians drop makeup game

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

CLEVELAND -- The Indians' stellar run of sterling starts has kept them coherent in the postseason chase. But that ran came to a crashing halt Monday at the hands of an Angels team with the best record and some of the hottest bats in baseball.

Fortunately for the Tribe, the Angels were only in town for one day for this makeup matinee of a game rained out in June. Unfortunately for the Tribe, it was a day when Danny Salazar did not respond well to the early wakeup call, as he gave up six runs in the fifth to send the Indians toward a 12-3 loss at Progressive Field.

"Waking up early [Sunday and Monday], it's the first time we've had two day games in a row," Salazar said. "You don't know how you're going to feel. Some days, you just wake up feeling tired."

Clearly, the Angels' bats weren't tired, even after their 34-run rampage in a four-game sweep of the Twins over the weekend. And while they technically earned themselves a four-game split of this series, all that really mattered in the immediate is that the win added further polish to their run toward an American League West crown while hampering the October opportunity for a Tribe team with little wiggle room down the stretch.

"They came in and did what they're supposed to do," Terry Francona said of the Halos.

As for Francona's Indians, the loss dropped them to five games back in the AL Central and 4 1/2 back for the second AL Wild Card spot. That they are alive in both races is a testament to their starting staff, which had posted a 1.84 ERA over the club's previous 26 games. Salazar, in particular, took a 17-inning scoreless streak into this ballgame, and he extended that streak to 21 innings after four.

Then it all came crashing down, dramatically.

Collin Cowgill's RBI groundout with runners on the corners broke the game's scoreless tie, and then Kole Calhoun smacked a fly ball to right-center that just carried over the wall for a two-run homer that made it 3-0. One Mike Trout strikeout later, the Halos worked some two-out magic with back-to-back hits from Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick, setting up the three-run blast to the bleachers off the bat of David Freese that made it 6-0 and chased Salazar from the game.

In that one inning, Salazar's ERA rose 56 points, from 3.63 to 4.19.

Francona thought it all came down to his young starter's inability -- or unwillingness -- to pitch inside.

"With Freese, he just never came in," Francona said. "[It was] away, away, away. [Freese] got a fastball that he hit down the right-field line foul. Then a breaking ball away that he went out and got. It was probably not a bad pitch, but he never came in to get him off of that pitch."

Salazar admitted he got a little too happy with the outside edges and should have come in more.

But the big issue, Salazar said, was that his body simply didn't respond to the game's timing. Though he insisted his arm felt fine and that the poor start was not the result of fatigue from his first career shutout five days earlier, Salazar did say he felt sluggish in general.

"We're going to have days like this," Salazar said.

The Tribe bats have been slumbering quite a bit of late, averaging just 3.3 runs in that aforementioned 26-game stretch. So the six-run hole loomed especially large, especially against Angels ace Jered Weaver.

The Indians did get on the board in the fifth with a two-out homer from Lonnie Chisenhall, and Chisenhall struck again with an RBI single in the sixth. But when the Angels answered with another pair off Zach McAllister in the seventh -- an inning prolonged by two potentially playable base hits that got by Chisenhall at third and Carlos Santana at first -- it was clear this makeup was one the Indians could have done without.

"We gave it right back to them," Francona said. "It makes for a long day."

It only got longer in the ninth, when Pujols and Kendrick hit back-to-back homers off Bryan Price to extend the Angels' lead to 12-3.

The only positive was that Salazar had the rest of the evening open to catch up on his rest.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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