Tribe Notes: Francona talks bullpen, CarGo and more

The Indians are looking for their 13th win on Sunday

James Rapien
April 21, 2019 - 5:34 pm

Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning during Saturday night's 8-7 loss to Atlanta. That put a damper on what was a great day for the Tribe. 

Francisco Lindor returned to action, going 1-for-5 and playing shortstop. Corey Kluber gave the Indians plenty of reasons to believe he's ramping into form after a slow start to the season. This team has played well, despite dealing with plenty of adversity in the first month of the season. 

They're as complete as they've been all year, with Lindor, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Gonzalez in Sunday's lineup. 

"I don't get too caught up in what we don't have," manager Terry Francona said. "Whatever is available, we feel like we're supposed to go win and I think that's the best mentality to take. Now, it's nice to get Lindor and Josey (Ramirez) going like they can and Kip looks like he's in a pretty good place – that should really help us. Now we can hit Bauers and Naquin later in the lineup, which should help them too."

The Indians took a flier on Gonzalez in March, signing him to a minor-league contract. The 33-year-old hasn't been in Cleveland long, but he's enjoying it. He made a magnificent catch on Saturday night. Gonzalez is hitting .278 (5-for-18) with one RBI in four games this season.

"He's been very good," Francona said. "You can tell he knows his way around the field. He's got a little prescence to him too, actually a lot of prescence to him – he's going to be really good for us."

The Indians' meltdown in the ninth inning wasn't something that they've done so far this season. Some were critical of Francona for using closer Brad Hand in game one of the doubleheader on Saturday.

"I know it’s not a save situation, but if you break it down, the first guy gets on, you got to get your guy up," Francona said. "The second guy gets on – he’s in the game. So nine times out of 10 you’re going to get the guy hot, pitching. Why bring him in with traffic? A win’s a win. Take the win. He wanted to be available for the second game. Actually he and Wittgren came in and said, ‘We’re good to go.’ Carl and I just … just because players are willing and we do appreciate it, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do – especially in April.”

Ultimately, the Indians' bullpen has to be able to close that game out. Adam Cimber, Oliver Perez, Cody Anderson and Tyler Olson have to do their job. They'll tell you it's on them. Blaming Francona for not saving saving his closer for game two would make sense if the Indians weren't in the exact same situation in game one – heading to the ninth with a four-run lead.

Hand hadn't pitched since Tuesday. No one knew what game two would bring. It's easy to say they should've waited to play Hand until the second game, but no one would be talking about it if Cimber and the rest of the bullpen had done their job – a job that they've done well to start the season. 

The Indians look to win the series tonight against Atlanta. For more, watch the preview at the top of this article.