HOUSTON -- Most Indians fans will remember the home run allowed by Nick Hagadone. It rocketed off the bat of Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie in the ninth inning on Thursday, tore out of Minute Maid Park in a hurry and cost Cleveland a shot at completing the first combined no-hitter in team history.
"He got the next two guys out nice and quick," Atchison said.
For the Indians, that was the bottom line. With a no-hitter on the line, Tribe manager Terry Francona handed the ball to Hagadone -- resisting the temptation to turn to closer Cody Allen in the third game of a long season -- and the end result was a 5-1 victory and series win in Houston.
History would have been nice, but Francona said it did not factor into his thinking for the ninth inning.
"That was probably the least of our thoughts," Francona said. "No, we were just trying to set up our staff, win a game and do what we think is right."
One night earlier, Hagadone made his first appearance of the season and gave up a walk and a hit to the only two batters he faced. Rather than let that outing fester in the left-hander's mind for a few days, Francona wanted to get Hagadone back in a game as soon as possible. He felt Thursday's situation presented a great opportunity.
Indians starter Trevor Bauer no-hit the Astros for six innings, but the combination of 11 strikeouts and five walks drove his pitch count to 111 and sent him to the showers. Lefty Kyle Crockett then held Houston at bay in the seventh inning, and Atchison followed suit with a clean eighth. That set the stage for Hagadone.
"I think it was big for me after last night to get the ball back again," Hagadone said.
The 29-year-old Hagadone, who posted a 2.70 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings for Cleveland last season, struck out slugger Chris Carter to begin the ninth. He then started Lowrie off with a fastball and fired a strike for an 0-1 count. Hagadone decided to come back with another heater, and Lowrie made him pay.
"He looks great," Atchison said. "He did a good job right there in that situation. ... I think he's set up to have a big year. I like everything, his makeup and everything about him. He's done a good job, and I'm looking forward to watching him pitch this year."