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Indians best Giants in twilight 12-11 shootout

No shortage of fireworks at Goodyear Ballpark as both sides combine for 37 hits

Indians best Giants in twilight 12-11 shootout
Vinnie Pestano strikes out the side against the Giants. (Photo: Dan Mendlik)
March 19, 2014
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Despite the 49ers scoring a touchdown (with a missed PAT), kicking a field goal and recording a safety, they were no match for the leg of Billy Cundiff, who kicked four field goals in the Browns' 12-11 win.

At least, that's how tonight's score could be interpreted in football terms since it doesn't make all that much more sense as a baseball score.

These are the types of games that can be fun to recap during the regular season when the games mean something, but in terms of spring training, where we're more interested in individual performances in preparation for the season rather than wins and losses, a high-scoring shootout isn't exactly what we're looking for. 

With what little weight exhibition stats carry already, having them blown up during one game because both teams were hitting everything in sight only makes it more difficult to keep things in perspective.

Regardless, the Indians were 12-11 winners at Goodyear Ballpark with both the Tribe and the Giants combining for 37 hits. 

Player of the Game: Yan Gomes (3-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI)

Terry Francona made it clear after the game that Yan Gomes's first priority is his defense behind the plate, but added that it was nice to see him swinging the bat well on Tuesday.

The new Tribe starting catcher recorded both of his first Cactus League home runs of the spring against the Giants, with his second being the deciding run in this game. Gomes was off to a bit of a slow start offensively this spring, but has since gotten up to speed and is now batting .294.

This season, the Brazilian native is expected to garner the lion's share of the catching duties after having a breakout year coming off the bench in 2013.

The French Revolution

At the end of 2013, Jeff Francoeur was at about the lowest point in his major league career after being cut by the Royals and the Giants. During the offseason, he pledged to make changes and adjustments that would put him back on top of his game this season, such as undergoing lasik eye surgery and switching to a lighter bat.

After signing a minor league deal with the Tribe, it appears that "Frenchy" may be following through on that goal as he is now batting .273 in exhibition play this spring with a home run and nine RBI after racking up two hits and four RBI on Tuesday, thanks mostly to a three-run blast in the third inning.

As things stand right now, Francoeur is one of the finalists to land a bench spot along with Elliot Johnson and Nyjer Morgan, depending on how long Michael Bourn is sidelined with hamstring issues.

Four Relievers, Two Spots

If Terry Francona and the Indians plan to carry the standard seven pitchers in their bullpen to start the season, there are currently two vacant spots and four viable candidates, all of whom pitched on Tuesday night against the Giants and helped stop the bleeding in order for the Tribe to rally to take the lead

Vinnie Pestano, Blake Wood, C.C. Lee and Scott Atchison have all impressed so far this spring. Pestano is more likely to claim a spot than the others as he has now pitched in six games and has only allowed one run. On Tuesday, he struck out the side as he continues to show flashes of his old dominant form.

That leaves the latter three to battle for one spot. Wood and Lee are younger with higher upsides, plus they have each struck out more than a batter per inning so far this spring. On the other hand, Atchison brings veteran presence and has only allowed one run in six innings of work. In addition, Atchison has familiarity with Terry Francona as he pitched with the Red Sox from 2010 through 2012.

Francona has said himself that he would like as many relievers capable of pitching at any point during a game. And considering the way these guys have been pitching, the depth in the bullpen could be just what the Tribe skipper was hoping for.

Facts and Tidbits

  • The six earned runs given up by Zach McAllister on Tuesday matched the six earned runs given up by Trevor Bauer to the Angels on March 10th for the most given up by a Tribe pitcher this spring.
  • Yan Gomes became the first Indian this spring to hit more than one home run in a game.
  • Indians relief pitching prospect Brett Brach appeared in his first career Cactus League game on Tuesday and recorded his first save.
  • Michael Brantley had three hits in four at-bats on Tuesday with all three hits being doubles. 

Up Next: A's (10-8) vs. Indians (15-4-2) @ Goodyear Ballpark. First pitch at 4:05 pm ET.

In a preview of the upcoming opening day matchup in Oakland, the Indians and A's will face off at Goodyear Ballpark. Carlos Carrasco will continue his bid for the fifth starter job against righ-hander Dan Straily. Carrasco is 2-0 with an impressive 1.29 ERA and is coming off a shutout apearance in a simulated game at the player development complex. Straily, on the other hand, hasn't been as successful as he's given up four runs in three outings thus far.

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

March 20, 2014 - 11:03 AM EDT
"If Franconia bats Cabrera leadoff at any time this season I will cry. He has no business hitting there."

Agree with this completely....though he's really not much worse than Bourn in the leadoff spot...
Joe Chengery
March 20, 2014 - 12:37 AM EDT
The way he has been hitting over the last three years (2nd half of 11 & 12, all of 13), I'd definitely would question him being up there- why I thought of Swisher third after Brantley and Kipnis, not Cabrera.
March 19, 2014 - 11:33 PM EDT
If Franconia bats Cabrera leadoff at any time this season I will cry. He has no business hitting there.
Joe Chengery
March 19, 2014 - 10:41 PM EDT

I was going to mention Cabrera as a leadoff possibility, as odd as that might sound after last year, but I know Tito had used him there, so he might be considering it in Bourn's absence, plus the fact that maybe Cabrera will be more consistent offensively when he's focused on getting on base and not swinging for the fences (I.e. Isn't trying to pull everything).

As for Marcum, I consider him an option, as he'll probably be here still to start April, but not to start the season; I think it comes down to Carrasco and Tomlin, with an outside chance at Harang. I think Marcum's chances are essentially nil; the only way he makes himself a viable option is if he stays healthy, and can regain the command and stuff he had before the surgery. He'll likely have to go to Columbus for the first month before he becomes a viable option for the Indians (only if Carrasco falters and Tomlin either doesn't perform at Columbus or is injured).
Jake D.
March 19, 2014 - 9:58 PM EDT
Don't forget about Shaun Marcum, though, who appears more than likely to stay with the Indians in either extended spring training or in the minors as he recovers from his shoulder issues.

I would love to keep Harang, too, but I would have to imagine one of Atlanta, Oakland or Arizona would welcome him with open arms given all their injuries.

One thing that I forgot to put in the article was the fact that Cabrera batted leadoff for the third time in the last week yesterday. First time I saw that when I was in Arizona last week, I didn't think much of it, but three times in one week? Now I'm wondering if Tito thinks there's potential for him there. I know he doesn't have a ton of speed, but if he continues hitting and getting on base consistently, you could do worse.
Joe Chengery
March 19, 2014 - 6:33 PM EDT

I was thinking along the same lines in regards to Harang, not a bad guy to keep, but probably only could as a starter, and with all of the starting spots opening up, his best opportunity as a starter would be elsewhere, since Carrasco has and still is the favorite for the fifth spot.

If Bourn can't go for the opener, who's in the lead- Morgan or Carson? Morgan has speed (how much still, not sure) and could fit in the leadoff spot, but Carson has played better and is healthier, even though he's not a leadoff guy (could shift Brantley or Kipnis up there temporarily, though. Suppose you could even put Swisher up there for a brief period if you had to), so I'm not sure Morgan would get it just because he can fit the leadoff spot better than Carson could.
March 19, 2014 - 6:23 PM EDT
Barring injury, Carrasco is going to the the fifth starter and Johnson and Francoeur are on the bench. Harang to me looks like a guy who the Indians will have to let go as there should be enough starting spots available for him to latch on somewhere as a fifth starter.
March 19, 2014 - 4:50 PM EDT
Yeah I'm guessing you are right as it would make sense as to why there hasn't been any talks of Salazar opening in the minors. Don't see why you wouldn't take advantage of that if it was possible. We're assuming that the option clock starts when the Indians season opens though...and not when the MLB season actually starts (though if you don't count the opening series in Australia, may not make a difference).

I feel like there needs to be a book/manual or something detailing all these option/roster rules and all their exceptions...sometimes question where anyone knows every single little rule (obviously there are people that do though).
Joe Chengery
March 19, 2014 - 4:42 PM EDT
Will mention one possible caveat to Carrasco being in the bullpen and not in the rotation to start the season (though I still believe Carrasco is the likeliest to wind up in the fifth spot): If Harang is awarded the fifth spot to start the year, since I don't know how likely it is they would put him in the bullpen- I don't think he has done much relieving in his career, and he may not be keen on the idea, especially since many teams are hurting with their starting depth (Braves, A's, etc.). If the Indians really want to keep Harang, they may have to offer him the fifth spot; still think it's likelier that Carrasco winds up with it, though. Tomlin is virtually a lock to start in Columbus either way, with that option and working his way back from TJ surgery taken into consideration.
Joe Chengery
March 19, 2014 - 4:37 PM EDT

I think that Johnson makes the team regardless if Bourn starts on the DL or not. Likely Francoeur too; I think Morgan or Carson could benefit by being added to the roster if Bourn starts the season on the DL. In my mind, both Johnson and Francoeur are pretty close to locks (Johnson is 95-100% a lock; Francoeur 85-90% a lock).
March 19, 2014 - 3:48 PM EDT
Interesting, I didn't realize there was a time limit before the option year is used up.
March 19, 2014 - 3:34 PM EDT
Yeah, no option is used if a guy is recalled within 20 days. Also, Hermie, I am not 100% on the rule....but believe the actual "clock" as far as the option days counting begins on the first day of the season. I could be wrong though.
March 19, 2014 - 1:46 PM EDT
Is Cabrera going to have a bounce back year? He is having a good spring batting over 330.

Is the real Pestano back to the 2011 and 2012 form?
March 19, 2014 - 1:24 PM EDT
"Isn't the bigger problem with optioning Salazar, that they would be burning his final option for no good reason, when they might have need to use it for a legit reason next year?"

If you are optioned to minors but do not remain there for at least 20 days, it does not count as an option. For example, Josh Tomlin was optioned to AAA after his rehab stint last August but was recalled to the big league club within 20 days, so still has an option. Since we'd need Salzar on the 8th, he wouldn't have been down for 20 days, hence not losing his option.

However as Tony pointed out...this probably won't work as there is also a rule that you need to stay down for at least 10 days when optioned (unless there is an injury). I thought maybe you could option him down a few days before opening day but doesn't sound like this is the case (if I'm understanding Tony correctly).
March 19, 2014 - 1:12 PM EDT
Isn't the bigger problem with optioning Salazar, that they would be burning his final option for no good reason, when they might have need to use it for a legit reason next year?
March 19, 2014 - 12:44 PM EDT
Zack Mack had a rough nite as did Vogelsong. They were both leaving poker straight fastballs up and out over the plate. Vogie is 36 and a grinder but his stuff at this point is pretty ordinary, if he and the two Timmie's don't find some of their old magic, the Giants once vaunted pitching staff may become a weakness. Zack needs to keep the ball down and put some spin on it, The batters see his fastball really well. Maybe he needs to hide the ball better and throw more splitters. CC Lee was pretty amazing last night, as was Vinnie which somewhat surprised me. Both of those guys seem to be very hard to pick up at night.
March 19, 2014 - 11:18 AM EDT
Wood has an option left.

But I agree that Hynes is definitely a DFA candidate. He probably clears and the Indians control him this year anyway.
March 19, 2014 - 11:08 AM EDT
I think Colt Hynes worked his way to a DFA. With Wood not having options left and has looked impressive in Spring training, I think he has made the last spot in the bullpen. I believe Francouer has made the team. Bourn will probably start the year on the DL which probably means Johnson start the year with the Indians.

With all the pitching injuries throughout MLB I do not see Harang , Aardsma, Atchison accepting minor league assignments. If LaHair finishes Spring Training strong I don't see him accepting to go down to Columbus. There are teams still looking for 1B.
March 19, 2014 - 9:25 AM EDT
Admit still get confused on how options work during spring training/the offseason...if you option him out a couple days before spring training does it not make a difference then? Aka, option him 3 days before thus he'd be eligible to return 4/8 when he's needed?
March 19, 2014 - 9:21 AM EDT
While I agree with the line of thinking to option out Salazar at the outset to have an extra pen arm, I don't think the timing works out right. If they option him out before the season on the date rosters are due on 3/31, he would not be eligible to return and pitch until the 4/11 game.....but they would need a fifth starter on 4/8. So I think he opens the season with the team and they carry five starters.
March 19, 2014 - 8:47 AM EDT
As far as the bullpen....assuming it's pretty clear to everyone here that I'm against an 8-man pen for any extended period of time. That said...think it would make some sense for the Tribe to start the year with an 8-man pen....though still the standard 12-man pitching staff. You don't need your 5th starter til the 2nd week of the could in theory option Salazar to AAA just before opening day, having a 4-man rotation (Masterson, Kluber, McAllister, and Carrasco), and have an 8 man pen. You can then recall Salazar before his scheduled start...he wouldn't have been optioned to AAA for the required time for it to even count as an option and would be up quick enough that he would still get credit for a full-season worth of service time (I believe).

Indians showed last year they very willing to be creative with their roster management. I'd assume Lee is ticketed for AAA. Has options and couldn't hurt to get a bit more time at AAA. Wood I thought was out of options but looks like he does still have one left. I'd probably start with him and Atchison (if going with 8 bullpen arms) and see how the first week plays out. Could then option Wood to AAA and have him as a first option if an injury happens or someone struggles.
March 19, 2014 - 8:42 AM EDT
"Michael Brantley had three hits in four at-bats on Tuesday with all three hits being doubles."

This is something I really want to see more from Brantley this year. Yeah it was nice seeing the HRs increase, but his extra base hits and overall power has actually been in decline the last two years. He doesn't need to be a 15--20 HR guy to bat 5th or 6th in the lineup (though won't argue if he is)....but some extra bases there would really help out.

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