CLEVELAND -- As Bryan Shaw walked off the mound and toward the dugout in the eighth inning of Wednesday night's 5-2 loss to the Yankees at Progressive Field, the Indians reliever received an uncharacteristic strong ovation from the home crowd."I heard cheers," Shaw quipped after the game. "I wasn't sure
CLEVELAND -- As Bryan Shaw walked off the mound and toward the dugout in the eighth inning of Wednesday night's 5-2 loss to the Yankees at Progressive Field, the Indians reliever received an uncharacteristic strong ovation from the home crowd.
"I heard cheers," Shaw quipped after the game. "I wasn't sure if it was for [closer Cody Allen] coming in or me leaving."
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In what could have been his final appearance in an Indians uniform, Shaw -- who will be a free agent this offseason -- delivered two strong innings of relief to keep the Tribe's hopes alive in Game 5 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan. Although the Indians were unable to break through to pull out a series win in their home ballpark, Shaw was appreciative of the ovation he received from the Cleveland faithful.
"It was definitely nice to see that," Shaw said. "The fans that come to the games are behind us and cheer for us all game. Unfortunately, we couldn't get it done for them."
With the Indians trailing by a run, Shaw entered in the sixth inning in relief of Andrew Miller. With a runner on first, Shaw struck out pinch-hitter Chase Headley to end the minor threat. Shaw then went on to pitch 1 2/3 more scoreless frames in the loss, yielding one hit and striking out three before he was replaced by Allen.
Despite being one of baseball's top relief pitchers over the past five seasons with the Indians, Shaw has often gone underappreciated and has been criticized by Tribe fans and pundits alike. So much so, in fact, that Shaw has been booed on numerous occasions by Cleveland fans when he entered a game. Shaw said he has never let that affect him while on the mound, though.
"The fans that come to the game," he said, "[they] know the team and like baseball. They love this organization and they love each and every player that's out there. The fans are awesome here. They stand behind us."
In the eyes of manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Mickey Callaway and several of Shaw's teammates, the vitriol thrown at Shaw has been unwarranted over the years.
Since he joined the Indians in 2013, Shaw has appeared in at least 70 games in every season. In his five seasons in Cleveland, he has posted a 3.11 ERA in 358 2/3 innings. Shaw finished this season tied with Royals reliever Peter Moylan for most appearances in the Majors (79). The right-hander also led the AL in games in 2016 (75) and the Majors in '14 (80).
When asked if the postgame scene in the Indians' clubhouse was awkward for him given his expiring contract, Shaw chuckled before responding.
"No, not at all," he said. "I'm still here with this team until three days after the World Series ends, technically. I'm here with these guys. Obviously, we're going to come into the clubhouse tomorrow and hang out, talk with each other and stuff like that. I'm an Indian until they tell me I'm not."
After the heartbreaking loss to the Yanks, Shaw said his upcoming free agency is not on his mind. However, he noted that Cleveland is the place he wants to be nest season.
"I would obviously love to stay here in this 'pen," Shaw said. "We have a lot of great guys down here. We have a lot of good arms. The last five years that I've been here, we've had a great bullpen down there. So I would definitely love to stay here with this group of guys."
"Everyone we have on this team is fantastic," Shaw added. "They're going to be good for a while. So there's no reason why I wouldn't come back."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.