CLEVELAND -- With the go-ahead run on second and only one out in the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Progressive Field, Indians manager Terry Francona opted to replace starter Carlos Carrasco with reliever Bryan Shaw.Shaw entered the game to face the Angels' Kaleb Cowart and Yunel
CLEVELAND -- With the go-ahead run on second and only one out in the top of the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Progressive Field, Indians manager Terry Francona opted to replace starter Carlos Carrasco with reliever Bryan Shaw.
Shaw entered the game to face the Angels' Kaleb Cowart and Yunel Escobar, and the right-hander did his job, inducing two ground-ball outs to keep the game tied. Shaw's outing proved big in the long run for Cleveland, as the offense broke out to score eight runs over the seventh and eighth innings to defeat the Angels, 10-4.
"[Shaw] was great," Carrasco added. "It was good to get that out there and ... keep them from scoring."
Francona has leaned heavily on Shaw, Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen in late-game situations throughout this season and in past seasons, but the case can be made that Shaw is the most underappreciated -- and according to Francona, the most criticized, of the three.
Ever since joining the Indians in 2013, Shaw has appeared in 70 or more games in every season, and has never finished a season with an ERA higher than 3.24. He led the American League in games in 2016 (75) and the Majors in games in 2014 (80). After his appearance on Wednesday night, Shaw now leads the AL in games pitched this season with 49.
"He's almost like an offensive lineman, where, if they miss the block, it's all they really notice," Francona said. "This kid, for five years running, has set the bar. And more often than not, he goes right through the heart of the order. He doesn't go 8-9-1 very often, and when he gives up runs, it's like people are up in arms for whatever reason.
"At times, he's gone through periods where [he's had a] tough week or tough couple weeks. But he's been amazingly resilient and consistent."
Shaw continued his consistency on Wednesday, as the reliever came back out to the mound in the top of the eighth inning with a 3-2 lead. After allowing a single to Michael Trout, Shaw got Jose Pujols to fly out to right before turning the ball over to Miller, who finished off the rest of the inning.
Shaw pitched one scoreless inning, allowing one hit on 19 pitches and lowered his ERA from 2.66 to 2.61 while notching his fourth win.
Francona said that there are not many relief pitchers in the Majors that can come into late-game, high-pressure situations as often as Shaw does year-in and year-out.
"Without him in that bullpen, it would be very difficult," Francona said. "Because when push comes to shove or when you're up against it, he's like, 'I'm fine,' and he pitches. And he [can go] multiple innings. It's been a blessing, believe me."
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.