Tribe's shuffled lineup held at bay vs. Gray

Offense aims to fill void left by injuries to Kipnis, Chisenhall

July 15th, 2017

OAKLAND -- The lineup that was posted inside the visitors' clubhouse at the Coliseum on Friday was not a one-game experiment. The Indians have entered the second half without two of their key components, causing a ripple effect that will impact the order for the next few weeks.
With second baseman and outfielder on the disabled list, Cleveland has rolled out a new look due to necessity. On Friday night, A's right-hander made easy work of the Tribe's offense, setting the tone with six strong innings to send the Indians to a 5-0 loss to open a six-game swing through Oakland and San Francisco.
"Those are two guys that are big contributors to our lineup and our team," Indians rookie center fielder said. "So, not having them here definitely is tough, but we have a lot of other guys in here that can help us out and help us win. We're going to pick them up for now and, when they come back and they're ready, we'll be just fine."
There is no firm timetable for the return of either Kipnis (strained right hamstring) or Chisenhall.(strained right calf), who remain back in Cleveland in the early stages of their rehab programs. All Indians manager Terry Francona said before Friday's game is that "it's going to be weeks" for both players, meaning and will be thrust into regular duty.
Gonzalez, who has been filling a utility role, now assumes the everyday duties at second base with Kipnis out. After being summoned from Triple-A Columbus prior to Friday's game, Naquin got the nod in right field, which he will share with and . Naquin hit eighth and Gonzalez ninth, but the recent injuries also affected the top of the order.
With Kipnis sidelined, and Francona preferring to keep behind cleanup hitter to serve as a protection hitter, Zimmer has been moved to the leadoff spot. By doing that, Francona can keep and batting second and third, respectively.
"I'm OK with him hitting first," Francona said of Zimmer. "I wouldn't put him there if I wasn't. With his speed and his ability to work counts, I think it will be good for him. That doesn't mean we have to do it every game, but I think it's good for his development."
Zimmer said he looked forward to the opportunity, too.
"Whatever I can do to help," Zimmer said.
The adjusted roster features a four-man bench for the time being. If Gonzalez and Naquin are in the starting lineup like they were on Friday, for instance, Francona has Guyer, Almonte (switch-hitter), and catcher available for in-game maneuvering. If Guyer starts, Naquin gives Cleveland a lefty bat off the bench.
"The way we're situated right now," Francona explained, "we're going to have a left-handed [hitter] or a switch-hitter on the bench most of the time. So, if we want to pinch-hit, we can put Gio at third and Rammer at second. We have some ways we can use our roster. I think it will end up being good for us."
It was just unfortunate for the Tribe that Gray was on top of his game on Friday.
"He was good tonight -- no doubt," Zimmer said. "He got a lot of us to kind of get off-balance. He was just commanding, and commanding his changeup well and keeping the ball down. That happens."