Rookies step up in Indians' season finale
CLEVELAND -- Friday was all about Corey Kluber, Saturday saw Michael Brantley become the first Indians player to get to 200 hits in 18 years.On Sunday, it was about the rookies which is appropriate since this team had 11 of them.
The Tribe wrapped up 2014 with a 7-2 win over the Rays at Progressive Field. T.J. House pitched five solid innings for the win, Jose Ramirez had three hits and Zach Walters had two hits including a home run.
The only run House gave up was a solo shot by Sean Rodriguez in the second. En route to winning his third straight start, the lefty gave up five hits and struck out two. In his 18 starts, House allowed three or fewer runs in all but three. Fellow rookies C.C. Lee and Kyle Crockett also each saw an inning of relief.
For a guy that would easily get flustered early in his minor league career, House (5-3, 2.66 ERA) showed a lot of ability to roll with things when he was called up to be the fifth starter in late May.
Said House about this season: "Personally it gives me a lot of confidence to compete at this level and have a lot of success and know I can give this team a chance to win."
After being in flux the first two months of the season, the Indians rotation was one of the best in the Majors the final two months. They had the second-lowest ERA in the Majors since Aug. 1 (2.61) and worked the fourth-most innings. For the first four months they had the fifth-highest ERA (4.43) and had worked the fourth-fewest innings.
Ramirez, who was called up for the second time on July 23, really came into his own after Asdrubal Cabrera was traded to the Nationals. From the time he was called up, Ramirez had the fifth-highest batting average among rookies in the Majors (.292). Sunday marked the seventh three-hit game of his career and he hit safely in eight of the final 10 games.
Ramirez's play over the past two months also presents an interesting dynamic for the Indians. It allows them more time to make sure Francisco Lindor is ready to be called up or they could decide to move Ramirez to second and Jason Kipnis to the outfield.
Walters, who got his first start since Sept. 15 at Houston, had two hits, including his seventh home run since joining the Indians as part of the Cabrera trade. Walters played in only 30 games after joining the Indians. He batted just .170 but seven of his 15 hits were homers.
"It's hard to get past the way the ball comes off his bat. He's so strong. That's in there and now we have to figure how to get it out more often. It will be interesting to see how he shows up in the spring," Francona said.
Besides the rookies, Lonnie Chisenhall and David Murphy each had two hits. Chisenhall ends the year with a career-best .390 average while Murphy, who has been bothered the past two months with an oblique injury, homered in the second.
With all the injuries, the Indians managed to finish with 85 victories and have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2001, but there was still disappointment, especially with the televisions tuned to Detroit celebrating after wrapping up its fourth straight AL Central title.
"You never want to be going home especially when you see something like that on TV. They're celebrating another division title," said Michael Bourn. "We played meaningful games until the last two. We just came up short."
Francona and general manager Chris Antonetti will hold their end-of-season news conference on Monday. In trying to give his first thoughts on the end of the season, Francona did think the record was an appropriate indicator.
"All things considered, we did about what we could do," he said. "I think we said since the first game you play it the way you can and you look up at the end and take where you are at and that's where we deserve to be."