CLEVELAND — Indians reliever Cody Allen leads all American League rookies with 67 appearances.
According to Tribe manager Terry Francona, that is way too many, which is why he plans on lessening Allen’s workload for the rest of the season.
“Cody has been so valuable for us, but I need to not throw him as much,” Francona said Tuesday prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals. “He’s pitched a lot lately, and I made a mistake using him last night. I should probably charge myself with those two earned runs.”
Allen allowed two eighth-inning runs while only recording one out Monday in the Indians’ 4-3 win over Kansas City. The right-hander gave up a two-run homer to Alex Gordon before being lifted in favor of Marc Rzepczynski.
The Tribe also wound up using Joe Smith in the eighth before going to closer Chris Perez in the ninth, putting their availability in question for the final two contests of the three-game series.
“I’ve already told Cody that he’s not pitching, but Perez and Smitty are on the fence,” Francona said. “We’ve been using all those guys in a lot of games because of the situation we’re in. That’s one of the few bad things about being in a playoff race.”
Allen is 5-1 with two saves and a 2.71 ERA on the season, but has struggled badly since Aug. 31, posting a 9.00 ERA in seven appearances.
Perez, who threw 27 pitches in one inning Monday, entered Tuesday with a 6.19 ERA since the start of August with a 1-2 record and eight saves.
Smith, however, has been lights out since Cleveland began its strong push for the second AL wild-card spot. He entered Tuesday 2-1 with a 0.49 ERA in 18⅓ innings since the end of July.
Francona said he plans on adding a fourth righty to the late-inning mix, but won’t be able to do so until the Indians’ next series against the White Sox.
Former starter Carlos Carrasco has temporarily left the team to tend to family matters, but will rejoin the Indians on Thursday in Chicago. The fireballer has tossed 11⅔ scoreless innings over five relief appearances, earning him a bigger role going forward.
“I’m excited about that possibility for Carlos,” Francona said. “We won’t hesitate to use him in those spots when he comes back.”
Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez made a major impact in his first start, going 2-for-3 with one run, one error and one pickoff Monday.
Though Francona did not put him in the lineup for a second straight game, he was very impressed with the Double-A Eastern League stolen base leader.
“Ramirez helped us win a game, and I guarantee that being out there helped him with his confidence,” the skipper said. “He played a hell of a game.”
Ramirez’s aggressive baserunning allowed him to score from first base on an infield groundout in the third inning. Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer committed a throwing error during the Little League-like sequence that also saw shortstop Alcides Escobar fumble the ball.
“He created that run with his speed,” Francona said. “He really was all over the place last night. He overslid two bases, got picked off first, threw a ball away. I just patted him on the back because you’d much rather have a guy who plays like that, not one that you have to keep motivating.”
The Indians will open their 2014 season with a three-game series in Oakland from March 31-April 2. MLB released its entire schedule for next season Tuesday afternoon.
The Tribe’s home opener is April 4 against the Minnesota Twins, which kicks off a six-game homestand that also features the San Diego Padres.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies also will play interleague series in Cleveland. The Indians will play at National League foes Arizona, Cincinnati, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There are two 10-game homestands at Progressive Field (July 4-13 and Sept. 1-11), but the Tribe has three 10-game road trips (June 6-15, July 18-27, Sept. 12-21).
Cleveland wraps up the campaign with six home games from Sept. 22-28, featuring three contests against the Royals and Rays.
The top road draws in the AL only make one trip to the North Coast. Boston visits from June 2-4, while the Yankees are in town from July 7-10.
The Indians and Cavaliers have two home conflicts, meaning parking will be at a premium on April 5 (Twins and Bobcats) and April 9 (Padres and Pistons).
Ubaldo Jimenez is the third Indians pitcher to record three double-digit strikeout performances in a four-start span since 1979. Jimenez struck out 10 without issuing a walk Monday. The right-hander did not allow an earned run in seven innings, dropping his ERA since the All-Star break to 1.94.
“Sometimes he’s a little wild, but he just kept pounding the zone with his slider and fastball,” Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said.
With the victory, Jimenez raised his season totals to 11-9 with a 3.62 ERA. He ranks second on the Tribe with 157 strikeouts and 154 1/3 innings pitched.
The Indians are 30-18 in games played on Saturday and Sunday, but just 9-13 on their traditional Friday fireworks nights.
• Cleveland entered Tuesday with nine walk-off wins at home and two walk-off losses on the road.
Contact Brian Dulik at email@example.com.