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Smoke signals

• Major League Baseball altered the regular season schedule this season, mixing Interleague games throughout the six-month slate. That can lead to late-season situations where contending American League teams are forced to play without the designated hitter.

"I know the schedule is tricky," Francona said. "I also know that we're coming up on September and we are at a severe disadvantage when you come to a National League team. One is that their pitchers hit. They come out every day and bunt. Ours don't. So you're at a disadvantage.

"Now, saying that, when the Mets come to our place, we should have the advantage. But, I think you're more at a disadvantage than you have an advantage."

• Indians pitcher Justin Masterson said he last hit regularly as a sophomore at Bethel College in 2005, when he was sometimes used as a designated hitter. In his first at-bat in Wednesday night's 3-2 loss, Masterson came through with a single that bounced over the head of Braves third baseman Chris Johnson. Masterson flew out to right field with two runners on base to end the fourth inning.

"It'd feel better in a victory," Masterson said of his single. "It's more exciting when you win the ballgame. When you don't, it's like, 'Well, I guess I did that. That was cool.' The bottom line is we were [0-for-14] with runners in scoring position in the last two games. I was one of those. I was one of those at-bats. I couldn't score the run."

• Francona used the right-handed-hitting Matt Carson as a pinch-hitter for Masterson against Braves righty David Carpenter in the sixth inning on Wednesday. The skipper said he did not want to use lefties Jason Giambi or Lonnie Chisenhall, because Atlanta had lefty Scott Downs warming in the bullpen. Francona also chose not to use Yan Gomes, because he did not want to burn one of his two catchers with three innings to play.

• Minor League right-hander Cody Anderson, the Indians' No. 7 prospect according to, was named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday for his work with Class A (High) Carolina. Infielders Francisco Lindor and Joe Wendle joined Anderson on the Carolina League's postseason All-Star team. Double-A outfielder Carlos Moncrief and first baseman Jesus Aguilar were named to the Eastern League postseason All-Star team.

Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for
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