CHICAGO – Terry Francona has been managing with one hand behind his back since the Indians clinched the AL Central on Sept. 15 and it’s getting to him.
There are so many things to take into consideration that the basic goal of winning the game sometimes gets lost. Some players need more work, some players need more rest. Others are coming off injuries and have to be handle carefully.
Everything is geared toward the postseason and Francona has to manage that way.
Francona understands that precautions must be taken. He’s been through it enough times, but it’s hard to get around the basic concept of doing everything possible to beat the other team.
“I hate it,” said Francona before Wednesday’s season finale against the White Sox. “I hate it. I’m so tired of this. Last night I’m sitting there watching (Carlos) Carrasco give up runs. You know we’ve got a guy in the bullpen that probably could have come in, but we needed to (get Carrasco’s pitch count up). I can’t wait to start playing games where we can try to do what we’re supposed to do.”
Trevor Bauer, coming back from a stress fracture in his right leg, started Tuesday night’s game and was relieved after four innings. Carrasco started the fifth and worked into the ninth with a 4-2 lead. Chicago rallied for three runs against Carrasco for a 5-4 win.
Lefty Daniel Palka, with first base open, singled to center to drive in the tying and winning runs. Francona could have had Carrasco walk Palka or bring in one of his four lefties to face him, but he knew Carrasco needed to throw more pitches to stay on schedule for the ALDS.
Francona said under normal circumstances he would manage the inning differently.
“We could have brought in the lefty (Brad Hand was warming) and then make them pinch-hit and do some things,” he said. “We could have really (manipulated) it, but (we) let Carrasco finish the game.”
Francona is on board with the strategy, but Tuesday’s loss left him frustrated.
“We’ve got things going every which way,” he said. “This guy can do this. This guy can do that. … Let’s go!
“I went home mad last night and I was mad the whole way home. Millsie (bench coach Brad Mills) and those guys were looking at me and said, ‘Man, relax.”
Carrasco reached 81 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.
“That part is good,” said Francona. “And it has been good (overall). There is a good reason for doing it, but it goes against (your nature). We show up to win. I know there are days in spring training when we lose and I get mad … because this is what we do.”