DETROIT — While a lot of the focus during the All-Star Game was on Derek Jeter, the highlight for Indians manager Terry Francona was getting to see Michael Brantley make his first appearance.
Francona said during Monday’s workout he was going to talk with Brantley out in center field until he realized that Brantley was actually taking fly balls.
"So I went out and stood behind him, he didn’t know I was there, and I watched him for about 10 minutes. I was almost overwhelmed with pride," Francona said on Thursday as the Indians had an optional workout at Comerica Park. "Then when he hit (in the sixth inning), I was almost emotional. Maybe I’m just getting old."
Brantley was 0 for 1 in Tuesday’s 5-3 win by the American League, but Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon had to make a diving stop to rob Brantley of a single in the sixth inning.
For Francona, the All-Star trip ended up being a couple days of relaxation. He served as John Farrell’s bench coach and was able to take in more of the activities after being a manager in 2005 and ’08.
When Jeter came out in the fourth inning, Francona was seen on the Fox broadcast giving Jeter a brief hug in the dugout.
"It was nice getting to watch him for a couple of days. The way (Adam) Wainwright and the NL catcher (Jonathan Lucroy) handled it. They backed off," Francona said. "I’m sure Wainwright’s heart is going 100 mph. But he stood back. Only in our game do you see stuff like that. I guarantee you Jeter the whole time was going, "Let’s go. Let’s hit.’
"I thought John did a great job getting him out of the game and Jeter acknowledging the players on both side and the fans. That probably only happens in our game. I heard what Wainwright said afterward, but I didn’t pay much attention to it. You still have to hit it. Wainwright throws about 94"
The Indians begin the second half tonight with four games in Detroit, which starts a pivotal 11-game road trip. After facing the Tigers, the Tribe has three in Minnesota and four in Kansas City. After that, we should have a clearer picture on whether the Indians will be able to contend for a playoff spot.
At 47-47, Cleveland comes out of the break 7 Â½ games behind Detroit in the AL Central and 3 Â½ out of the second wild card.
Coverage begins tonight on SportsTime Ohio at 6:30 p.m. with Indians Live. Here are some other things to watch:
BAUER’S RUN: Trevor Bauer (3-4, 3.84) has pitched 12 straight scoreless innings along with not allowing a home run in 19 1/3 innings. He struck out a career-high 10 last Sunday against the White Sox and has made it to the sixth inning in all but one of his 12 starts this season. This is the right-hander’s second time he has faced the Tigers this season. He had a no-decision on June 21 after giving up four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Three of the eight hits were home runs. In his career, Bauer is 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA against Detroit.
POWERING IT UP: The Indians have hit 16 home runs in July, which is tied with the Astros and Angels for the most in the majors. Brantley, Yan Gomes and Nick Swisher have each hit three. Gomes had the game-winning, two-run shot last Sunday against the White Sox.
MORE ON SWISHER: After hitting .122 in June (6 for 49), Swisher is hitting .289 in July, going 13 for 45. He also has a hit in eight of his last nine games.
CLUTCH IN RELIEF: Cody Allen has converted 11 consecutive save opportunities dating back to May 30 vs. Colorado, allowing just a pair of earned runs across a combined 20 1/3 innings. He is limiting opposing batters to a .109 (7 for 64) average against over that span.
DETROIT’S STARTER: Anibal Sanchez (6-3, 3.04) is 3-1 in his past five starts against the Indians. His lone loss in that span was on April 16 at Comerica Park when he gave up three runs (two earned) in five innings of a 3-2 loss.
WHO’S HOT FOR THE TIGERS: J.D. Martinez has reached base in 29 of his last 31 games and is hitting .402 (49 for 122) with 10 home runs and 29 RBI over that span. … Rajai Davis is 13 for 29 with five RBI this month.
TIGERS VS. BAUER: Ian Kinsler 3-7, HR, RBI; Alex Avila 3-5, HR, RBI; Miguel Cabrera 2-6; Nick Castellanos 1-6; Austin Jackson 0-4; Victor Martinez 2-5, HR, 2 RBI;