July 31, 2014

Medina
Mostly clear
66°F

Tribe: Terry Francona’s pep talk does the trick

CLEVELAND — Terry Francona has supported Indians players almost to a fault during his debut season as manager. After Cleveland’s sixth straight loss Saturday night, Francona gave them some tough love.

The veteran manager held a team meeting after a lackluster 7-2 loss to the Angels put the Indians on the verge of being swept in both series of a seven-game homestand.

Francona laughed when asked if the meeting was a “friendly” one.

“It was basically how we want to play the game, knowing that it’s not always going to be perfect,” he said. “But we have to fight through frustration. I thought (Sunday’s 6-5 comeback win) was a really good example of that. That’s a good game to win.”

“We won, so I guess you can say it worked,” center fielder Michael Bourn said of Francona’s team meting. “I know he has our back in all situations and he’s behind us. He’s not against us. But sometimes he’s got to let us know what time it is. We don’t mind it as a team. It might pick us up and get us going.

“We’ve been fed up about (losing). We continue to try to do something about it. We were just able to do something about it today.”

Home cooked

The Indians’ 1-6 record wasn’t the only thing bad about the recent homestand.

In addition to being outscored 42-21, Cleveland batted just .206 (51-for-247) while entering the series finale with Los Angeles hitting only .180 (9-for-50) with runners in scoring position.

The Indians’ staff ERA stood at 5.03 ERA (38 earned runs in 68 innings) in the seven games.

Shabby Cabby

A season-worth of frustration may have been on display when shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was ejected in the second inning by home plate umpire Vic Carapazza for arguing balls and strikes.

Cabrera was arguing a low called strike earlier in the count, barking back at Carapazza after striking out swinging, then throwing his batting helmet and shin guard toward the plate once he was ejected.

Francona thought Carapazza, 34, was fast with the thumb.

“Maybe that was a young umpire trying to show he was in control,” Francona said. “I thought he got a little aggressive there and didn’t need to throw him out.”

Cabrera, a career .274 hitter in seven seasons, is batting just .240 this season, including .148 (8-for-54) over his last 14 games. He has seven errors, including three in his last eight games.

Next up

The Indians are on the road for the next 15 of 18 games, beginning a three-game series in Minnesota tonight at 8:10.

Danny Salazar (1-0, 3.29 ERA) opens the set for Cleveland, opposing LHP Andrew Albers (1-0, 0.00), while Zach McAllister (4-7, 4.01) goes for the Indians on Tuesday (8:10 p.m.) against RHP Samuel Deduno (7-5, 3.38).

Carlos Carrasco (0-4, 7.75) starts the series finale Wednesday (1:10 p.m.), while the Twins counter with RHP Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.43).

Minor details

Matt LaPorta was batting .234 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 28 games for Triple-A Columbus through Saturday.

• Prized prospect Francisco Lindor is battling back issues at Double-A Akron and was not in the lineup for the Aeros on Saturday. Cleveland’s No. 1 draft pick (eighth overall) in 2011 entered Sunday batting .297 with a homer and seven RBIs in 20 games since being promoted from High A Carolina.

• Center fielder Tyler Naquin hit his ninth homer of the season in Carolina’s 12-4 loss at Frederick on Saturday. Naquin, Cleveland’s first-round draft pick (15th overall) last year, entered Sunday hitting .280 with 42 RBIs in 105 games.

Roundin’ third

The Indians have committed 79 errors in 118 games, accounting for the fourth-most in the American League. Cleveland’s .982 fielding percentage is tied for 11th in the AL.

• Of Nick Swisher’s 12 homers on the season, eight have come at home.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at (440) 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.