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Francona's managing huge reason Indians nearing World Series

Francona's managing huge reason Indians nearing World Series

Terry Francona’s uncanny managing in this postseason has put the Cleveland Indians within one game of the World Series. It’s also gotten some to look at his place in baseball history. 

Had I voted for Manager of the Year this season, Francona would have been my choice. It would have been a close one because I thought Buck Showalter did arguably his best job as Orioles manager this season. 

Before fans start screaming about the wild-card game, votes must be cast before postseason play begins. 

There were other notable jobs. Boston’s John Farrell and Jeff Banister, last year’s winner with Texas, are likely to get some support. 

So are Detroit’s Brad Ausmus and New York’s Joe Girardi. Ausmus’ Tigers’ recovered nicely from a rocky start and the Yankees played surprisingly crisp ball after remaking their roster after the trading deadline. 

A personal favorite of mine was the job done by Seattle’s Scott Servais. In his first year as a manager on any level, Servais kept the Mariners in the wild-card hunt until the final few days. 

It’s hard to say if this was Francona’s best season though he’s been masterful handling his bullpen—especially on Monday night—this postseason. 

If Francona adds a third World Series title to the two he won in Boston, he’d be in rarefied air.  

Francona already managed a team, the 2004 Red Sox that won for the first time in many years, and now he can do the same with the Indians. He also won with the 2007 Red Sox, and both series were four-game sweeps. 

His 34-18 postseason record with Boston and Cleveland is outstanding, and overall he’s in 30th place among managers with 1,381 wins. (Showalter is 25th with 1,429.) 
Francona lasted eight seasons with the Red Sox in a notoriously difficult place for managers. Only Hall of Famer Joe Cronin, who managed 13 seasons lasted longer. 

In six of his eight seasons with the Red Sox, Francona won at least 90 games and never fewer than 86. 

He was fired after the 2011 season, and his final game came in Baltimore when Robert Andino drove in the winning run to knock Boston out of the postseason.

Showalter has many times generously said that without the expanded September rosters, the Red Sox make the playoffs and Francona keeps his job. 

Interestingly, Francona had a chance to be the Orioles manager. Just before he was hired by Boston, he was one of eight candidates who came for interviews after the 2003 season.

He met with the press as part of the interview process and discussed his four-year stint with the Phillies that ended with the 2000 season. 

After three years, Francona felt ready for another shot, and shortly afterward, the Orioles hired Lee Mazzilli. Francona replaced Grady Little in Boston, who was the eighth and final candidate at the insistence of Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos. 

Francona has said that he and the Orioles weren’t the right fit, but it’s worked out well for him. His father, Tito a fine player in the 1950s and 1960s, made his major league debut with the Orioles in 1956. 

The Indians have a chance to sweep Toronto on Tuesday and go to the World Series for the first time since 1997. Francona’s managing is a huge reason why. 
 

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Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

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USA Today Sports

Wade Miley roughed up again, Orioles shut out in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered Friday night and the Tampa Bay Rays clinched third place in the AL East with a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Longoria led off the fifth with his 20th homer off Baltimore starter Wade Miley, marking Longoria's fifth straight 20-homer season and the ninth of his 10-year career.

RELATED: WILD CARD RACES WITH THREE DAYS REMAINING

Morrison hit his 38th homer off reliever Chris Tillman in the seventh.

Rays starter Jake Odorizzi left his final start of the season after four innings with a sore right knee.

Brad Boxberger (4-4) got the win as the first of four Tampa Bay relievers.

Miley (8-15) lost his fifth straight start, giving up four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked five, raising his major league-leading total to 93. The Baltimore bullpen gave up five more walks.

Trey Mancini had one of Baltimore's four hits. It was Mancini's 158th hit, tying Cal Ripken (1982) for second-place all-time among Oriole rookies.

The Orioles, shut out for the 11th time, lost for the 17th time in 21 games and dropped three games behind Tampa Bay with two games left in the season.

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MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

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USA TODAY Sports

MLB Wild Card Standings: Projecting the standings with three days left

With the MLB postseason only five days away and three more days in the regular season the playoff field is almost set.

After Thursday night’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated from the second Wild Card spot in the National League. Their 2-1 loss to the Cubs put them too far out of reach of the Rockies.

In the American League the AL East race is all but done after the Yankees lost on Thursday.

RELATED: NEW MLB BRACKET PROJECTION WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Not too many changes in the American League race after yesterday.

The New York Yankees (89-70) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 9-6 at home after entering the day only three games back in the division. While the Boston Red Sox (92-67) lost too, three games to surpass is too much for even the Bronx Bombers to overcome.

It will be interesting though to watch both teams sweat. Boston hosts the Houston Astros who are trying to overtake the Indians for the top seed in the AL. New York hosts division rivals Toronto.

The Minnesota Twins (83-76) lost to the Indians after allowing 10 hits in the contest. Win or lose it does not matter how they end the season because they will be the No. 5 seed and the visitors in the American League Wild Card Game. Presumably it will be against the Yankees.

AL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

New York Yankees:     +6.0 
Minnesota Twins:           ---
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Colorado was off on Thursday night in preparation for their final series of the year against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Milwaukee Brewers (84-75) did manage to gain a half game with their nail biting 4-3 win over the Reds. Brett Phillips hit a go-ahead double in the sixth inning and the final three frames remained scoreless for both squads.

They now move to two games back of the Colorado Rockies (86-73) with three games to go.

Colorado will host their final series against the Dodgers. Milwaukee is traveling to the St. Louis Cardinals (82-77) for their final three games. St. Louis is now out of contention, four games out of the final Wild Card spot.

FanGraphs.com now has Colorado at a 93.3 percent chance of taking the final postseason spot.  Milwaukee moved up slightly to 6.7 percent.

MORE NATS: WALK-OFF FOR THE NATS, COURTESY OF DE AZA

NL WILD CARD RACE (AS OF SEPT 29):

#4 Arizona Diamondbacks:  +6.0
Colorado Rockies:                   ---
Milwaukee Brewers:              -2.0