CLEVELAND — It remains to be seen whether the Cleveland Indians will have manager Terry Francona in the dugout Tuesday night for the second game of their four-game series with the Texas Rangers.
Francona had to leave the Monday night game in the fifth inning when he became ill. It was the second time in less than two weeks that Francona exited in the middle of a game because he wasn’t feeling well.
In a contest at Progressive Field against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 13, Francona stepped away when he was feeling lightheaded. He was taken to a hospital, where nothing serious was found. The episode was attributed to dehydration.
Francona didn’t have to go to the hospital Monday night. He checked out fine according to team medical personnel, but it was still an unsettling incident for the Indians.
“We’re always concerned when this happens,” said bench coach Brad Mills, who takes over as manager when Francona leaves. “It’s a genuine concern for me, for the staff and for the team. We’re just glad that the doctors checked him out, and hopefully we’ll know more tomorrow.”
The series opener was a wild 15-9 Cleveland victory in a game the Indians trailed by scores of 7-1 and 9-2 before scoring 13 unanswered runs. It was a welcome offensive outburst coming after the Indians took a deflating three-game sweep at the hands of the visiting Minnesota Twins over the weekend.
The Indians scored just two runs in the three games against Minnesota before erupting for 15 runs and 19 hits Monday against the Rangers.
“Coming off the type of series we just had, any win would be a good win, but to come back the way we did shows the heart and drive we have to win,” said Indians reliever Bryan Shaw, who got the win Monday. “Hopefully we’ll continue (in Tuesday’s game) to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The Rangers would love to get a win on Tuesday to wash away the sour taste of the opener. To do that, they obviously will have to pitch better.
“That’s a group of hitters that are swinging the bat very well now,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said of the Indians. “They are very aggressive.”
The pitching matchup will be Indians right-hander Mike Clevinger (3-3, 3.86 ERA) against Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross (1-1, 9.35).
Ross will be making his third start of the season, having finally recovered from offseason surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder. His last start came on Wednesday, a 7-5 loss to Toronto in which he pitched three innings, giving up seven runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and one walk.
In four career appearances against the Indians, three of them starts, Ross is 1-1 with a 1.77 ERA.
Clevinger is in the Cleveland rotation in place of Danny Salazar, who is on the disabled list. Clevinger, making his first career start against the Rangers, has struggled in recent starts.
In three starts in June, he has a 5.54 ERA. When he pitches poorly, it is usually due to a lack of command. He is averaging 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, but he also is averaging nearly five walks per nine innings.
The Indians’ offense should get a further boost Tuesday with the return of outfielder Michael Brantley, who was activated off the disabled list Monday but didn’t play. Brantley, back from a right ankle sprain, is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday night for his first appearance since June 14.
He is hitting .296 with a .360 on-base percentage, five homers and 28 RBIs in 54 games.