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Leonys Martin makes a big jump in the standings

By PAUL HOYNES • Aug 2, 2018 at 11:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS — Leonys Martin is happy to a be the newest member of the Indians for a couple of different reasons.

No. 1: He went from being 13 games out in the AL Central as a member of the Tigers to having a 10-game lead in the same division.

No. 2: He no longer has to face the Indians' pitching staff, especially the starting rotation.

"It's amazing to be here," Martin said before Wednesday's 2-0 win over the Twins. "This is the type of team you have to fight (against) for nine innings, especially facing their pitchers. It's one of the best pitching staffs in the league, one of the best five-man rotations in the league.

"But now I have an opportunity to be here and I don't have to face them anymore,” he added. “So, that's amazing."

The Indians acquired Martin from the Tigers before Tuesday's trade deadline for minor league shortstop Willi Castro. While complimenting the Tribe pitchers, it should be noted that Martin hit .300 with two homers and three RBI against them this year. He scored seven runs and posted an .823 OPS against the Tribe.

"Every time you play against the Indians, you have to face a good pitcher," Martin said. "So (it's like), 'here we go, let's fight.' It's not an easy fight."

Manager Terry Francona told Martin that he's going to platoon Rajai Davis in center field — Martin will face righties, while Davis faces lefties. Davis started Wednesday against the Twins, but Leonys made his Indians' debut as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning. He singled and scored in the ninth.

This year Martin is hitting .277 with seven homers and 20 RBI against righties this year. He's hitting .176 with one RBI against lefties.

"He's going to play a lot, certainly against righties, and some lefties," Francona said. "But I want him and Rajai to complement each other. He comes with a good reputation as being a good team-first guy."

Martin had left hamstring problems earlier in the season, but feels he's as close to 100 percent as he can get.

"I'm ready to play, ready to compete," Martin said. "I had a really good rehab assignment. I took my time and made sure when I came back, I was healthy and felt 100 percent ready to play. That's the way I feel right now."

Twins catch one thief, but not the second

The Indians lead the AL in steals and two of the main reasons were on base in the sixth inning Wednesday in a scoreless game against the Twins at Target Field.

Davis was on third and Jose Ramirez was on first with one out and Edwin Encarnacion at the plate. Ramirez broke for second and Davis, waiting until catcher Mitch Garver committed to throwing to second, bolted home.

Ramirez was tagged out by shortstop Jorge Polanco, but Davis skidded across the plate on his stomach in front of Polanco's throw for a 1-0 lead. It turned out to be the only run the Indians needed in their 2-0 win.

Davis said he waited until the ball was in the air before finally committing to coming home.

"You could go when he cocks back, you know?" Davis said, with a smile. "But, that's risky. ... Vegas."

Ramirez said he was thinking one thought — steal second base. He was not necessarily thinking a Davis scoring.

"I didn't think the catcher was going to make the throw, because everybody knows that Davis is really quick at third base," Ramirez said through team interpreter Will Clements. "But he did make that throw and Davis was able to score the run."

Twins manager Paul Molitor didn't want to give Ramirez a free base with Encarnacion at the plate.

"We were going to throw through with one out," Molitor told reporters. "Understanding they had speed over at third base at that stage of the game. I wasn't going to give him a free base. You're not sure how it is going to work out ,but if we do that and Encarnacion hits a double then it is a couple of runs there.

"So we were taking a shot there. The reaction is based on the throw and the opportunity to get the guy. We got the out, but we missed the guy at home."

Davis was not credited with a stolen base because Ramirez was caught. He technically scored on the play.

Decision time looming for Miller

Francona said the Indians could have a decision by Friday on whether Andrew Miller in activated or continues his rehab assignment by pitcher more than one inning.

Miller, on the disabled list since May 26 with a sore right knee, pitched consecutive games Monday and Tuesday for Class AAA Columbus.

Josh Tomlin said he felt good during a two-inning simulated game on Tuesday. He'll begin his rehab assignment with Columbus with a two-inning outing on Friday.

As for when he could rejoin the Indians, Tomlin said, "It will be based on need." If there is no need, Tomlin knows he might not rejoin the Indians until rosters expand on Sept. 1.

A 2nd wind for Carrasco

Carlos Carrasco, since coming off the disabled list on July 6, is 5-0 with a 1.99 ERA in six appearances, including five starts.

On Wednesday, he struck out 10 and threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Twins. The Twins are the team that put him on the disabled list when Joe Mauer hit him with a line drive in the right elbow on June 16.

But there may have been more at work here than revenge. Carrasco feels like the time he spent on the DL gave him a chance to regroup and get stronger.

"I think that was good," he said. "It was really bad when I went on the DL, but sometimes you take that three weeks off and I think at the end of the season it's going to work well (for me).

"Right now, I've got my tempo back. Everything's back. It took me a few starts to get back to normal. Even in Detroit, I was a little bit off. But, today was great. . .(just) the way I started the season."

Carrasco (13-5, 3.66) started the season by going 5-1 in his first eight starts.

Hand another reliever without borders

In Tuesday's 6-2 win over the Twins, lefty Brad Hand pitched 1 1/3 innings to set-up Cody Allen for a 1 1/3 inning save.

In Wednesday's 2-0 win over the Twins, Francona turned Hand loose for the final 1 2/3 innings to earn his second AL save and his 26th overall.

"We're not going to do that a ton," Francona said. "We have an off day (Thursday). Sometimes it depends how they get to that inning. He's just a really good pitcher. A lot like Andrew and Cody, he likes to pitch, so you try to take advantage of that."

The Twins' lineup, featuring five left-handed hitters and two switch-hitters, proved to be a good matchup for Hand. In his two appearances against his hometown team — Hand was born in Minneapolis — he threw three scoreless innings with three strikeouts, two hits and one walk.

"It makes sense," said Hand when asked about Francona's strategy. "You're matching up. They have a bunch of lefties. It was a good opportunity today.

"You don't see it done very often. Usually guys stick to their roles, but he's putting us in the best situations to succeed. We're all fine pitching in whatever the situation is."

The Indians acquired Hand and Adam Cimber from the Padres on July 19.

Lindor’s defense; Brantley finally sits

In the eighth inning Wednesday, Francisco Lindor started a double play that at the very least prevented the Twins from tying the score. Logan Forsythe, just acquired from the Dodgers, came to the plate in his first at-bat for the Twins with runners on first and second, one out and the Indians leading 1-0.

"Sarby (infield coach Mike Sarbaugh) told me to play slight pull," Lindor said. "It's a new guy. He's trying to help the team as much as he can. I know he was going to try to pull the ball, so I shaded more towards my right side and I was getting ready towards my left as well."

Forsythe did pull the ball as Lindor made the stop and threw to Erik Gonzalez who made a great turn at second base to complete the double play.

"As soon as he hit it, I knew I had a chance," Lindor said. "I just dived to stay underneath the baseball and it was just a matter of going to second. I know Gonzo has really quick hands and a good arm to first. I knew we had him."

Said Francona, "That ball gets by him, it's a tie game. To come out of that with two outs on that play, that was a spectacular play all the way around."

Michael Brantley, in an 0 for 13 slump, got the day off Wednesday. Francona could have used him in the ninth inning to hit for Gonzalez with one out and two on, but he passed. The Indians settled for one run and left the bases loaded.

"Oh, I certainly considered it," Francona said. "I thought a day off for him would do him a world of good. So, yeah, I was fighting it, because he would've been a really good matchup there, as he is with most guys. I just really wanted him to have an off day."

Brantley is hitting .200 since coming out of the All-Star break. He's hit one homer since June 11.

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