CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona pulled his team's strings expertly in a Game 1 win with 4 1/3 innings pitched by his bullpen -- including 3 2/3 from his top two relievers. That decision was validated by Corey Kluber's strong outing in Friday's 6-0 win over Boston in Game
CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona pulled his team's strings expertly in a Game 1 win with 4 1/3 innings pitched by his bullpen -- including 3 2/3 from his top two relievers. That decision was validated by Corey Kluber's strong outing in Friday's 6-0 win over Boston in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Kluber, a candidate to win his second AL Cy Young Award, pitched seven-plus scoreless innings with three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts. By pitching so deep into the game, the Indians were able to take a commanding 2-0 series lead without using either of their heavily-taxed closers, Andrew Miller or Cody Allen.
After Kluber put the first two runners on to start the eighth, Francona turned to Dan Otero (1.53 ERA) instead of Miller (1.45) or Allen (2.51). Otero rewarded his skipper by retiring the top of the order on a strikeout, flyout and groundout.
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The Indians could have run into trouble had Kluber exited early, but he was able to save some weary arms.
"You never want to underestimate expecting that to happen, but I think we all knew that could happen, so maybe that's why the bullpen was used a certain way yesterday," Otero said. "And fortunately, [Kluber] was able to do it. He pitched into the eighth inning, and that's what he's done the whole season, his whole career. Obviously that was important and to keep Miller and Allen out of the game, and still get a 'W' was big for us."
Miller threw 40 pitches over two innings on Thursday, while Allen logged 40 pitches over 1 2/3 innings, but both were ready to pitch again, with Miller warming up in the eighth inning.
Miller said he would be happy to pitch every day if that meant a team win, but the Indians carry 25 players on their roster for a reason and he likes this group.
"With both of us throwing as much as we did yesterday, I think it's great," Miller said. "Both of us were running around here doing everything we could to feel as good as possible going into the game today. Obviously, we weren't available for 40 pitches tonight, but there was a moment when I was up for a certain situation, but Dan made it look easy and got out of that inning. That's the way you want it to go."
With a travel day Saturday and rain postponing Game 3 to Monday (6 p.m. ET on TBS), the Indians' top two relievers will have three days' rest in a potential series-clinching game. That should put them in great shape, as batters are hitting .114 and .186 against Miller and Allen, respectively, when they're on two days' rest.
"It's the playoffs," Miller said. "We're all available every day. We'll find a way to make it work. Some days you're not going to feel great, some days you're not going to feel fresh, but you find a way to make pitches."
Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com.