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After Chisenhall's heroics, Tribe-Royals suspended

Indians leading, 4-2, in 10th inning in game to be completed Sept. 22

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KANSAS CITY -- The Indians' attempt at sweeping the Royals will have to wait, as Sunday night's series finale was suspended due to poor weather conditions in the bottom of the 10th with Cleveland leading, 4-2.

The game will resume on Sept. 22, prior to the start of the Tribe's three-game series with Kansas City in Cleveland.

"It's kind of a weird feeling, the game's not over, but I'd rather have the lead," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "As weird as it is, you put this in your rearview mirror and move on quickly, and then we'll figure it out once the time comes around."

Lonnie Chisenhall ripped a pinch-hit two-run double in the top of the 10th inning off Greg Holland to give the Indians a 4-2 lead in front of a sold-out Kauffman Stadium.

Holland finished the inning, and when the Indians took the field in the bottom of the 10th a gusting, ominous wind accompanied them. Before reliever Kyle Crockett -- who must begin on the mound when play continues on Sept. 22 -- could throw a pitch, the game was delayed at 10:23 p.m. CT.

Shortly after umpires halted play, a heavy rain came down.

Officials in New York deemed the game suspended 58 minutes after the delay was initiated.

"I think the umpires had a game at 1 o'clock [Monday] in St. Louis, and I think they're just trying to make the best decision they could," Francona said. "One school of thought was to wait until 11:45 and maybe play in the rain. We'll do whatever they tell us to do, but you can't control the weather."

Chisenhall's two-bagger came one inning after Tribe closer Cody Allen's streak of consecutive saves ended at 17 games.

The Indians entered the ninth inning leading, 2-1, but leadoff batter Alex Gordon launched a game-tying shot to right off Allen.

Allen recovered, inducing three straight groundouts, bringing on extra innings for the second straight game.

Holland, MLB's saves leader with 40, started the 10th with no trouble. Michael Brantley grounded out and Carlos Santana struck out. But Jason Kipnis kept the inning alive when he reached on an error by first baseman Billy Butler.

Yan Gomes ripped his fourth single of the night, and Francona inserted Chisenhall into Mike Aviles' spot in the order to gain the lefty-righty matchup.

Chisenhall deposited an 0-2 slider off the right-field wall to score Kipnis and Gomes.

Gordon's home run spoiled a superlative effort from Tribe starter T.J. House.

House tossed a career-high seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and zero walks, while striking out five.

"I thought that was his best game," Francona said. "I thought his stuff was sharp."

Within the first three hitters of the game, the Royals led, 1-0. Nori Aoki and Omar Infante smacked singles, then Gordon lofted a sacrifice fly to score Aoki.

That is all House would allow, though, as he set down 18 of the last 21 hitters he faced.

"He started off the game kind of having to pitch out of trouble, got the sac fly and seemed to settle down, and then really kept the ball down. … I thought he was really good," Francona said.

Cleveland countered with a run in the third when Brantley looped his 37th double into left field to score Roberto Perez.

The Indians used a defensive gaffe by Royals starter Danny Duffy in the next inning to take the lead. The lefty attempted to pick off Gomes at first base with his trademark quick-step move. But he threw it past Butler. Gomes advanced to third, and Aviles brought him in on a sacrifice fly, putting his team ahead, 2-1.

"He looked over and thought he had big lead and thought he could catch him by surprise, and he made a bad throw," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

The Indians appeared on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball for the first time since June 26, 2011, in San Francisco.

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McAllister recalled; Tomlin put on paternity list

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KANSAS CITY -- The Indians recalled Zach McAllister from Triple-A Columbus and placed right-hander Josh Tomlin on the paternity list before Sunday's series finale against the Royals.

The move gives Cleveland a fresh arm in the bullpen, after it used seven relievers in a 3-2 extra-innings win Saturday, and six Friday in a 6-1 triumph.

"That's really welcome," said Indians manager Terry Francona. "It works out pretty well."

It's unlikely Tomlin would have been available Sunday anyway, as he was the final reliever in both games and threw 54 pitches Saturday.

"We knew Josh was on the cusp of leaving. … Josh was really good with us about communicating to us, probably since two weeks ago, that this was coming, and he stayed with us on it and everything, so we knew last night when he pitched that he was leaving," Francona said.

Francona indicated McAllister would be used in a relief capacity. It makes sense considering the taxed bullpen, and the lack of a spot in the rotation. But it will be a new role for the right-hander, who's pitched in 64 big league games since 2011, all starts.

This marks McAllister's fifth stint with Cleveland this season.

He battled injury early and was placed on the disabled list May 22 with a low back strain. The Indians recalled McAllister on July 12, setting off a string of back-and-forth trips between Columbus and Cleveland. His most recent stint with the Clippers lasted nearly a month.

McAllister owns a 5.91 ERA in 14 starts this season with the Tribe. He posted a 1.93 ERA in five August starts at Triple-A.

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Indians set to add three September callups

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KANSAS CITY -- Indians manager Terry Francona announced the first round of September callups on Sunday.

Right-handed relievers Austin Adams and Bryan Price, and infielder Jesus Aguilar will officially join the team on Monday, when Cleveland can increase its 25-man roster to 40. Additionally, Jason Giambi will be activated from the 60-day disabled list.

Adams returns to Cleveland for the third time this season. He accumulated 3 1/3 innings during that span with a 10.80 ERA. Adams registered a 2.50 ERA in 54 innings with Triple-A Columbus this season

Price has seven years of Minor League experience, first with the Red Sox organization, then in Cleveland's farm system for the last six years. He had a 2.73 ERA in 20 innings at Columbus this season.

"It'll help, bullpen arms are always welcome," Francona said.

Aguilar spent two weeks with the Indians in May, batting .188 (3-for-16). He started six games at first base. Aguilar posted a .303/.394/.511 slash line in 495 plate appearances at Triple-A this season.

"When sometimes games get spread out one way or another, being able to get a guy off the field, not even just close-games wise, like maybe being able to pinch-run, because we've pretty much played with a three-man bench most of the year," Francona said.

Giambi makes his return to the Tribe, after left knee inflammation sidelined him on June 12. The 20-year veteran went 2-for-9 in three recent rehab games at Double-A Akron. Giambi was hitting .128/.212/.277 before hitting the disabled list.

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Kluber opens important showdown against Tigers

Price, Kluber face off as clubs battle for playoff positions

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The Indians have already proven that the American League Central race involves three teams, not just two.

That much was clear when Cleveland nearly swept a series this weekend from the Royals, who lead the Tigers by one-half game.

The Indians took the first two games of their series from the Royals and led, 4-2, in the 10th on Sunday night. But heavy rain and wind forced the game to be suspended. It will resume in Cleveland on Sept. 22. Therefore, the Royals still lead Detroit by a half-game in the AL Central and the Indians by 3 1/2.

The Tigers come to Progressive Field for four games beginning Monday after splitting four games in Chicago over the weekend and losing the finale, 6-2.

David Price will be returning to the mound for the Tigers on Monday after an anomaly in his last start. Against the Yankees last week, the left-hander became the first pitcher in 25 years to allow nine consecutive hits. Chances are lightning won't strike twice, and this will be a pitching matchup fit for September and beyond.

The pitcher tasked with holding up the other end of that bargain will be Indians right-hander Corey Kluber. He'll be facing Detroit for the fourth time this season; In the previous three outings, he's gone 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA.

Kluber, though, has lost back-to-back starts for the first time this season. That's not to say he's pitched poorly at all -- he's thrown quality starts in each of his last eight outings.

Even though the White Sox got the better of the Indians in Kluber's last start, Chicago slugger Jose Abreu came away from the game with immense respect for the right-hander.

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

Price agreed with Abreu's sentiment on Kluber and generalized it to the Tribe as a whole.

"I think they're real, especially with the starting pitching they've been throwing out there," Price said. "They're a tough team. The guy we see [Monday] is one of the best in the league in Kluber."

Tigers: Cabrera misses Sunday game with sore ankle
After leaving Saturday night's game with a sore right ankle, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was held out of Sunday's matinee.

It's unclear whether Cabrera will be back in the lineup for the series opener in Cleveland. Detroit manager Brad Ausmus mentioned Saturday night that it's a possibility that the club could give Cabrera a string of days off in a row at some point.

"I think it'll generally be a day-to-day determination," Ausmus said, "just because sometimes he comes in and it feels good, sometimes he comes in and it's aggravated."

It's also unclear whether or not extended rest would actually help Cabrera's ankle.

"I don't know that it can be healed fully either until something is done about it or he has a complete offseason," Ausmus said.

Indians: Tomlin placed on paternity list
The Indians placed righty Josh Tomlin on the paternity list Sunday, and it comes at a good time. He pitched Friday, then threw 54 pitches in a relief win Saturday, so he would have needed a day or two off anyway. Zach McAllister was recalled in a corresponding move.

"We knew Josh was on the cusp of leaving. … Josh was really good with us about communicating to us, probably since two weeks ago, that this was coming, and he stayed with us on it and everything, so we knew last night when he pitched that he was leaving," Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Tomlin came out of the bullpen for most of August after making 15 starts in the first four months of the season. McAllister will work out of the bullpen upon rejoining the club for his fifth stint with the Indians this season.

McAllister, 26, has made 64 starts and no relief appearances since first getting called up by Cleveland in 2011. This year, he has a 5.91 ERA and 1.52 WHIP over 14 starts.

Worth noting
• These teams will meet seven times in September. The Indians are ahead in the season series, 7-5.

• Cleveland went 21-6 in September of last season to storm into the AL Wild Card Game, which it dropped to Tampa Bay.

• Francona said newly signed first baseman Russell Branyan is unlikely to join the big league club in September.

In his first two games with Triple-A Columbus, Branyan has four hits in eight at-bats. He hasn't played in the Majors since 2011.


Indians rally in 11th to gain ground in Central

Brantley, Santana each drive in an extra-inning run to drop Royals

Indians rally in 11th to gain ground in Central play video for Indians rally in 11th to gain ground in Central

KANSAS CITY -- Whether it was the seven relief pitchers the Indians used, the three bases-loaded jams to extract themselves out of, or the one hit from the middle of the fifth to the start of the 11th, seemingly nothing went right for Cleveland on Saturday night.

Except for the final score, that is.

The Tribe remained unfazed through it all, and snatched a 3-2 extra-inning win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

"That was one of the funner games to be a part of, it certainly helps when you win," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "There was so much that was going on and not a lot of scoring though. They had baserunners it seemed like every inning, and we found ways to wiggle out of a few."

Michael Brantley delivered the game-winning hit in the 11th, when he chopped a single over a drawn-in Kansas City infield, scoring Jose Ramirez, who ignited the rally with a leadoff triple.

Ramirez took an extra base on what looked like a routine double.

"I [just] about swallowed my tobacco when he rounded second. But he made it," Francona said. "You were going to have to lasso him to stop him."

Carlos Santana padded the lead with an RBI single.

The Royals threatened in the bottom half of the frame. Salvador Perez drove in Jarrod Dyson, but was left stranded after Josh Tomlin struck out Erik Kratz.

Tomlin was the seventh reliever Francona used, and he gutted through two innings after finishing off Friday's 6-1 win.

"He means so much to that group out there, he was wiped out, but he was going to figure it out," Francona said.

Cleveland's second straight win over the Royals closed the gap to 3 1/2 games in the American League Central with the finale of the series coming Sunday. Kansas City dropped into a tie for first place with the Tigers in the American League Central.

Yan Gomes drove in the Indians' first run with an RBI double off Royals starter James Shields in the fourth inning. Gomes returned from the seven-day concussion disabled list just one day earlier.

Kansas City tied the game in the eighth inning on a fielder's choice by Lorenzo Cain. But they squandered myriad opportunities in the last four innings.

"We weren't getting any hits with runners in scoring position. It was plain and simple," said Royals manager Ned Yost, whose team went 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position. "We had a multitude of opportunities starting in the first inning, we just couldn't take advantage of it."

Trevor Bauer twirled 5 2/3 scoreless innings, registering his second straight zero-run outing, a career first for Bauer.

An even more impressive feat was the first-inning jam he escaped.

Bauer allowed the first three runners to reach for a bases-loaded, no-out conundrum. This looked ominous at the time, particularly considering he has allowed 16 runs in the first inning this season, five more than any other frame.

But Bauer struck out the next two batters to bring up Raul Ibanez.

"Early innings for me are tough and so I was fired up just being able to get to that position, to get two outs and have a chance of getting out of it," Bauer said.

He got ahead of Ibanez, 1-2, then bounced a slider in an attempt to get him to chase. Ibanez checked his swing, ruled third-base umpire Bill Welke, which prompted an argument from pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who was ejected.

Bauer ignored the drama and struck out Ibanez four pitches later, ending the threat.

"The way the rest of the game went, turned out to be a really big inning to get out of that with giving up none," Bauer said. "Usually in a situation like that, you try to give up just one or two, just don't let it be a big inning."

Cleveland got on the board when Jason Kipnis and Gomes whacked back-to-back doubles in the fourth inning.

The seven relievers combined to toss 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (one earned).

"Down the list, everyone did exactly what they're supposed to do," Bauer said.


Walters working to become more complete hitter

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KANSAS CITY -- Zach Walters could focus on the positives of his first 16 games with the Indians -- for example, his .508 slugging percentage -- but the youngster prefers to look at areas of his game that require improvement.

"I'm pretty cold right now," said Walters, who continued by disagreeing with the notion that he's a power hitter. "No, actually, I think I'm just a good hitter, believe it or not, but I don't say that because of my stats, obviously."

Walters' batting average (.186) and on-base percentage (.238) in 63 plate appearances with Cleveland jibe with his proclamation of the current cold streak. However, of Walters' 11 hits with the Tribe, seven have been for extra-base hits, including six home runs.

"If I can drive in runs while I'm not feeling really well, that's fine with me," said Walters, who clocked an RBI double in his team's 6-1 win on Friday.

In an admittedly small sample size, Walters carries the highest isolated slugging percentage -- a stat that attempts to quantify one's power-hitting capabilities -- among hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. His .296 ISO trumps all 412 MLB players that qualify, according to FanGraphs.com.

"Well, he's got a lot of sock in his bat," Tribe manager Terry Francona said. "I think he's enjoyed the fact that he's playing and when he swings at strikes, man, he does some damage."

Walters displayed similar power tendencies in his first 32 games this season with the Nationals. He posted a .205/.279/.462 slash line in 34 plate appearances, before being dealt to Cleveland for Asdrubal Cabrera on July 31.

The 24-year-old is attempting to break the power-hitting archetype that he views as restrictive and inaccurate.

"I want to get on base, I want to put together multiple-hit games like every other guy," Walters said.


Callaway ejected after arguing check swing call

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KANSAS CITY -- Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway was ejected in the bottom of the first inning Saturday for arguing a disputed check swing.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Raul Ibanez nearly offered at a Trevor Bauer slider in the dirt with two strikes. Home-plate umpire James Hoye asked for help from third-base ump Bill Welke on the appeal, but Welke deemed that Ibanez did not go around.

Welke tossed Callaway for arguing from the dugout. It was Callaway's first career ejection.

Bauer struck out Ibanez four pitches later to end the inning.


Tribe looks to do damage before getting to KC 'pen

Tribe looks to do damage before getting to KC 'pen play video for Tribe looks to do damage before getting to KC 'pen

KANSAS CITY -- Visiting teams to Kauffman Stadium paying tribute to the Royals' fantastic bullpen has become a theme this season. The Indians were no different when they began their three-game series with Kansas City on Friday.

Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis recognized the importance of jumping out to an early lead, thus neutralizing the Royals' killer unit, something the Tribe did in their 6-1 win Friday.

"That's why you got to get on a team like this early and make sure you have the lead, going into the late innings," Kipnis said. "When you have a strong bullpen, and guys that you can count on in the back end it shortens the game for you, to where you only need to play small ball for five-to-seven innings kind of get that lead, and let the bullpen take it from there."

The most terrorizing arms are seventh-inning man Kelvin Herrera, setup man Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland. The trio has combined for 166 2/3 innings, a 1.30 ERA and 209 strikeouts this season.

"Those three guys at the end, we were going over our advanced report today -- and we probably shouldn't have looked because it didn't help," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, adding: "It's like [video] game numbers, they're good, they're really good."

Cleveland avoided all three in the first game as it led from the second inning on.

"It's not just stuff alone, because all of them are hard throwers, all of them are 95 [mph] plus, got nasty stuff," Kipnis said. "But they know what they do well, they throw strikes they don't walk too many people, and when you've got guys in the back of the bullpen that do that, they're pretty effective."

Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall saw a similar dynamic in his team's bullpen, with closer Cody Allen and a cast of solid middle relievers sporting the fourth-best ERA in MLB.

"We have that situation with our bullpen too," Chisenhall said. "We know that if we're winning in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning, we've got a really good shot at winning the game."


Tribe trims Central deficit by stymying Royals

Salazar fires five scoreless frames, while Santana adds three RBIs

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KANSAS CITY -- Danny Salazar's potential breaking point came in the fifth inning on Friday night.

Two Royals were aboard with MVP candidate Alex Gordon at the plate, threatening to derail a superb start. The showdown might have unwound differently in mid-April, at the nadir of Salazar's season.

But a rejuvenated Salazar retired Gordon, then observed the rest of the Indians' 6-1 triumph as a 44-minute rain delay ended his night after five innings in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium.

Despite the brief 72-pitch outing, Salazar's 15th start of the season was his first allowing zero runs. His ERA dropped to 2.84 in 38 innings since a July 22 recall from Triple-A Columbus.

"I think Danny was really good," manager Terry Francona said. "He was really aggressive with his fastball, and you could tell he had confidence in it, and even in the tempo in his delivery, which is something [pitching coach] Mickey [Callaway] kind of harps on him about, was really good from start to finish."

Six relievers polished off Cleveland's fifth win in six games, as the gap between the Tribe and the Royals in the American League Central shrank to 4 1/2 games. It was also the franchise's 9,000th win, the third most in American League history.

The Indians centered their offensive attack on the first three innings.

Zach Walters clubbed an RBI double in the second for a 1-0 lead. It was his first double with the Indians, while seven of his 11 hits with the team have been for extra bases.

Cleveland put up a crooked number in the third, scoring three runs to take a 4-0 lead. Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana collected RBI singles, while Jason Kipnis plated the fourth run on a fielder's choice.

Santana, who capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the ninth, has 14 RBIs in 13 games against the Royals this season, the most for him against any other club. It was his 22nd blast of the season.

"I hope he continues. That's a nice swing, he can get streaky with his home runs and that would be really welcome if he wants to go on another one of those streaks," Francona said.

Salazar motored through the first four innings, blanking the Royals in 56 pitches. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out three, the most impressive coming on a 96 mph heater to Billy Butler that blew away Kansas City's slugger in the second inning.

"I thought he threw his best fastball of the year, just as far as having life through the zone, and even in fastball counts, he got it by a couple pretty good hitters," Francona said.

But Salazar ran into trouble in the fifth. He walked Mike Moustakas to start the inning before retiring the next two batters. Alcides Escobar kept the inning alive with a single through the right side, bringing up Gordon, who had homered in two of his previous three games. Salazar induced a groundout to end the inning.

"He's a great batter, I think I did a pretty good job with him tonight," Salazar said.

Jason Vargas posted his third straight zero in the sixth before Salazar came out for the bottom half, throwing one pitch in a torrential downpour before the umpires called a delay at 9:02 p.m. CT.

C.C. Lee replaced Salazar when play resumed.

A shorter delay than expected affected the decision on whether to send Salazar back out.

"We were told originally that they were going to wait 40 minutes, so we weren't going to do that," Francona said. "And then they kind of changed because the rain stopped, so we weren't going to start him back up. It would have been 50 minutes anyway."

Salazar wanted to return, but he understood the circumstances.

"I had about 70-something pitches, and I was trying to at least get to 100, but it is what it is. We can't control that," Salazar said.

After Lee threw a scoreless sixth, relievers Kyle Crockett, Scott Atchison, Marc Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw and Josh Tomlin combined to polish off the final three innings.


Santana's red-hot bat keeps tormenting Royals

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KANSAS CITY - Carlos Santana patiently tapped his bat on the toes of his dirt-covered cleats in the ninth inning, stepped back into the batter's box and continued to torment the Royals.

Santana launched a two-run home run to cap the Indians' 6-1 win on Friday night. It wasn't a game-changer, but his 22nd homer inflated his already mind-boggling numbers vs. Kansas City this season.

Santana finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, further proving the notion that he's become an uncomfortably painful thorn for the Tribe's American League Central rivals.

"He plays well against us. We've got to figure out a way to get him out, hopefully starting tomorrow," Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said.

Tribe manager Terry Francona has an understandably different take on this matter.

"I hope he continues. That's a nice swing, he can get streaky with his home runs and that would be really welcome if he wants to go on another one of those streaks," Francona said.

Much of Santana's damage against Kansas City this year has come at Kauffman Stadium, as these numbers reflect:

• Santana is batting .611 (11-for-16) in his last six games at Kauffman Stadium with six home runs. In 57 games at Progressive Field, he has eight jacks.

• The first baseman homered at Kauffman Stadium for his fourth straight game and tied the single-season record for home runs by an opposing player. He has more home runs here this year than Billy Butler (five in 67 games) and Mike Moustakas (five in 57 games).

• Santana now has seven home runs overall vs. Kansas City this year. He's smacked no more than three against any other club.

• The seven long balls are tied for second in franchise history for single-season home runs vs. the Royals. Manny Ramirez holds the record with eight in 1998.

• Santana's collected 14 RBIs against the Royals in 2014. He has no more than eight against any other club.

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Gomes back from DL; Gimenez on paternity leave

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KANSAS CITY -- Yan Gomes returned from the seven-day concussion disabled list for the start of the Indians' crucial series with the Royals on Friday night.

Gomes started at catcher and batted sixth in the first of three at Kauffman Stadium. He went 2-for-4 in the Tribe's 6-1 win.

"That was good, and I think he felt good physically. That was a really good sign," manager Terry Francona said. "It's always nice when guys get hits, but just to see him bouncing around and feeling good was kind of a relief."

Francona declared Gomes "good to go" before the opener.

"There's a lot of protocols -- he was examined last night, then they send it on to the league -- and it's pretty advanced, which it should be," Francona said.

In a corresponding roster move, newly-acquired catcher Chris Gimenez was placed on the paternity list.

Gimenez, who the Indians traded for on Saturday, went on the paternity list as a member of the Rangers on Aug. 4.

"I think there's been a few things going on there. I know he went back there once before, it's been not quite as easy as he wanted," Francona said. "He's new and I think there's some anxiety there. I said 'Hey, man, look. Go take care of your wife and your kid ... We'll figure it out."

Gomes went on the DL after sustaining a concussion on an unusual play on Saturday. The catcher was struck in the mask by a deflected ball, which glanced off the left arm of Minnesota's Kurt Suzuki.

Gomes entered Friday batting .284/.324/.477 in 109 games. Gomes' 17 home runs rank second among American League catchers.

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Indians sign Branyan to Minor League deal

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KANSAS CITY -- The Indians signed veteran infielder Russ Branyan to a Minor League contract on Friday.

Branyan, who will report to Triple-A Columbus, last appeared in the Majors in 2011 with the Angels. This season, he clubbed 19 home runs and posted a 1.043 OPS in 65 games with Tijuana in the Mexican League .

The 38-year-old has posted a .232/.329/.485 slash line over 14 Major League seasons.

Branyan was drafted by Cleveland in 1994 and spent his first five years with the organization. He rejoined the Indians for part of the 2010 season.

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Tribe starting growing trend with mustaches

Tribe starting growing trend with mustaches play video for Tribe starting growing trend with mustaches

KANSAS CITY -- With the monotony of late August setting in, the Indians are attempting to break it with mustaches.

A large chunk of the team eschewed the traditional rally beards for mustaches at the start of their three-game series with the Royals on Friday night. The idea originated with strength and conditioning coach Joe Kessler, and took off when Lonnie Chisenhall used Twitter to promote the event to his followers.

"[Kessler's] got an awesome mustache, kind of encouraged everyone to grow one, and now it's like a team-building exercise to get a little push here in August and September," Chisenhall said.

"A lot of other teams have little stuff that they do, so we think that this might be our niche," said Jason Kipnis, who's sporting a fu manchu with side burns.

Chisenhall wasn't sure about Kipnis' facial hair yet: "He's got the whole, like, 'I drive a Harley' look going on."'

But Chisenhall did list a few team favorites.

"I'm more of a fan of the creepy mustaches, so like Tyler Holt has a pretty nasty one, Mike Aviles' is pretty pencil thin," Chisenhall said. "I like the traditional mustache, but if somebody wears one that probably shouldn't have a mustache, it really helps."

Clean-shaven manager Terry Francona expressed his indifference.

"As long as they're not breaking the law," Francona said. "Cleanliness is not mandatory, I don't care if they shower, whatever, just as long as they play good baseball. Not real worried about the facial hair."

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Giambi, Raburn contribute during rehab stints

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KANSAS CITY -- The Indians appear close to getting back three players currently on the mend.

David Murphy, Jason Giambi and Ryan Raburn -- all on the disabled list -- continue to make progress during their rehab assignments.

Giambi (left knee inflammation) and Raburn (sore right wrist) both contributed to Double-A Akron's 11-3 win over Trenton on Thursday. Raburn collected three hits and three RBIs, while Giambi ripped an RBI double.

Indians manager Terry Francona said that he expected Giambi to sit on Friday night, but he will return to the lineup on Saturday. Raburn is not eligible to return from the DL until Sept. 2.

"He'll keep playing with a day off mixed in," Francona said.

Murphy, who on Aug. 10 was placed on the DL with a sore right side, traveled with the team to Kansas City. Francona entertained the possibility of a rehab stint soon.

"He's doing well," Francona said. "Depending on the Minor League playoffs, stuff like that, he probably will be able to get a few games. It wouldn't surprise me."

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Carrasco helps Indians keep up playoff push

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yankees acquire lefty specialist Outman from Indians

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

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

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

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

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

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


Indians to ramp up Salazar's spring regimen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ramirez opening eyes at shortstop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Catch shows healthy Bourn at his best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Kluber loses battle with White Sox rookie Abreu

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

Kluber loses battle with White Sox rookie Abreu play video for Kluber loses battle with White Sox rookie Abreu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The low offensive output magnified Kluber's few mistakes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kluber miffed by post-review denial of warmup pitches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened next is what miffed Kluber.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Francona keeping close eye on Gomes

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

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

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

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

Francona was encouraged by Gomes' progress on Tuesday.

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

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

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

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


Walters' 10th-inning HR helps Tribe keep pace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Indians' lead was short-lived, though.

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

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

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

The mistake was forgotton in the end.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Murphy making progress, makes trip

Murphy making progress, makes trip play video for Murphy making progress, makes trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Indians sending catcher Wolters, four others to AFL

Indians sending catcher Wolters, four others to AFL play video for Indians sending catcher Wolters, four others to AFL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Inbox: Should Tribe seek help for rotation?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers Indians fans' questions

Inbox: Should Tribe seek help for rotation? play video for Inbox: Should Tribe seek help for rotation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In closing ...

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

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


Bauer handcuffs Astros to give Tribe series

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

Bauer handcuffs Astros to give Tribe series play video for Bauer handcuffs Astros to give Tribe series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holt did not feel too bad for Krauss.

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

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

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

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

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Aguilar hits three-run walkoff on Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Francona gives Brantley some well-deserved rest

Francona gives Brantley some well-deserved rest play video for Francona gives Brantley some well-deserved rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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