"I told both of them that this," Francona said on Friday, "as important as these games are, this isn't the time to fudge. If they need the day [off] today, that's my responsibility, to be really honest."
During Thursday's win, Miller entered in the fifth inning, logged two innings and piled up 40 pitches in preserving a lead for Cleveland. Allen closed things out, but also registered 40 pitches in his first five-out save of the season. Between their efforts, setup man Bryan Shaw bridged the gap from the seventh to eighth, recording two outs, allowing one run and using 13 pitches.
Knowing the durable Corey Kluber was scheduled to start in Game 2 and that an off-day loomed on Saturday, Francona felt more comfortable pushing his relievers more than usual. The 40-pitch totals marked season highs for both Miller and Allen.
"If you see them pitch," Francona said, "it certainly won't be as much as last night."
Francona was able to avoid using righty Dan Otero (1.53 ERA in 62 games) and righty Zach McAllister (1.44 ERA since Aug. 1) in Game 1, and both relievers are also capable of multi-inning outings. The rest of the Indians' ALDS bullpen consists of Cody Anderson, Mike Clevinger and Jeff Manship. As former starters, Anderson and Clevinger can also pitch more than one inning, if needed.
At this point in the season, Francona said honest communication is paramount.
"I've been here for four years now. We've been together," Francona said. "So the communication -- that needs to be a strength."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.