CLEVELAND -- The Indians won the battle of the bullpens, 5-4, Thursday night to take Game 1 of their American League Division Series over the Red Sox. Now they have to figure their path to win the series.After 40 pitches each from Andrew Miller and Cody Allen following Trevor Bauer's
CLEVELAND -- The Indians won the battle of the bullpens, 5-4, Thursday night to take Game 1 of their American League Division Series over the Red Sox. Now they have to figure their path to win the series.
After 40 pitches each from Andrew Miller and Cody Allen following Trevor Bauer's fifth-inning exit, even manager Terry Francona admits they probably can't do that again in Game 2 on Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET on TBS.
"We'll take inventory of what we got," Francona said. "You're certainly not going to see the same exact way tomorrow. But we wanted to win the game tonight and we did. Tomorrow might have to be a little bit different design."
:: ALDS: Red Sox vs. Indians coverage ::
That's not to say Miller or Allen will be spectators for Friday afternoon. A 40-pitch relief performance would garner a couple days' reset in the regular season, but in October, it earns a pitcher the right to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock in the morning without guilt.
"I think at this point, we're all ready to go every day," Miller said. "We'll find a way."
To expect long outings on back-to-back days, however, might be a bit much, even at this time of year. Thus, the most formidable pitcher in the series might be saved for a shorter situation. With no other lefty in Cleveland's bullpen, that situation might involve David Ortiz, now 1-for-8 with four strikeouts against Miller after fanning with two on in the fifth inning.
This is where Francona's ability to use many of his relievers in flexible roles, beyond Miller, comes into play. He turned Dan Otero into a workhorse reliever in the regular season by picking his spots, anywhere from close games in the sixth to long relief early to situational work late. He had Otero warming in the ninth in Game 1, but only planned to use him if Allen blew the save. Also potentially in line for work could be Bryan Shaw, who bridged the gap between Miller and Allen but threw just 13 pitches to do it.
"I think that certainly bullpens are kind of being adjusted right now," Miller said. "They're certainly something everyone talks about. Everyone wants to talk about the Royals the last few years. I saw what Boston did in '13. I was part of Baltimore in '14. Maybe as more and more stats come out, we realize there's bigger moments in the game than the eighth and ninth inning, and that can be appreciated.
"But the playoffs are a different animal. And it's something that whenever Tito asks anybody to pitch, we're all going to be ready to go. That's the reality of the situation. It's going to be the same way on the other side for the Boston guys. We'll find a way."
That said, with Corey Kluber starting Game 2 on 10 days' rest, Francona hinted his approach might be more traditional than it was Thursday.
"I was joking with Kluber and told him he's on a tight 165-170 [pitch count] tomorrow," Francona said. "Nobody ever said you have to be conventional to win."
Between Kluber and David Price, Game 2 could look much more like a starting pitching duel. But the Red Sox, who have to fear the thought of a 2-0 series hole with Clay Buchholz slated to start Game 3, have the heart of their bullpen rested if they need it should Price have trouble.
For all the postseason frustrations of Price, he's 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA for his career against Cleveland and 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in seven starts at Progressive Field. But he could see a familiar face in former Rays teammate Brandon Guyer, who's 4-for-11 with a double, triple and home run off him. Guyer could get the start in one of the corner outfield spots, as he has against several lefties down the stretch.
Likewise, Price's former Tigers teammate, Rajai Davis, could start in center. He's 9-for-36 with three doubles and 11 strikeouts against Price.
Most of the Red Sox regulars, by contrast, have comfortable numbers against Kluber. That includes Brock Holt, 5-for-15 against him.
Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.