Smoke signals

• Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who opened this season with Columbus, has developed into one of the most reliable arms in the rotation. Nine of Bauer's 14 outings have been quality starts, and he has turned in a 3.16 ERA with 30 strikeouts against 10 walks in 31 1/3 innings in July (five starts).

"He competes really well," Francona said. "Depending on what's working or not working, I think he still finds a way to get into the game and to not give up a bunch of runs. I don't think it's just mechanical. I think he's a lot more competitive than maybe it appears just by walking around. I think that bodes well for us. He's still young and learning, and he's eager to learn."

• Indians center fielder Michael Bourn (on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring injury) played long-toss in the outfield at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday and continues to do light running drills. There remains no established timetable for Bourn's return to game action, though he will need a Minor League rehab assignment before rejoining the club.

• Excluding pickoffs, Cleveland catchers had thrown out 28 of 88 (31.8 percent) of would-be basestealers, entering Thursday's series with the Royals. That marked the second-best rate in the AL, and the fourth-best rate in the Majors.

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.