The Indians have found their man.
Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that Terry Francona will manage the Indians. The club is expected to make an official announcement Monday.
Francona just came in for an interview with the Indians yesterday, but he has been considered the favorite over the past week or two. According to Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, the former Red Sox skipper said on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight last night that he was only considering whether to manage the Indians next season or return to his broadcasting job at ESPN. Sandy Alomar, Jr., who finished the season as the interim manager after Manny Acta was fired, was the only other known candidate for the permanent job.
Some may call the Indians an odd destination for Francona on the surface, as they don’t have the talent or the payroll that he was blessed with in Boston, but maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. Francona worked as an advisor with the Indians in 2001 and has maintained a relationship with general manager Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro. Of course, Francona’s father, Tito Francona, played six seasons for the Indians from 1959-64.
Francona owns a 1,029-915 record over 12 seasons as manager with the Phillies and Red Sox. He led Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. The Indians admittedly aren’t close to the World Series after finishing this season at 68-94, but Francona’s hiring at least provides some reason for hope in the near future.
UPDATE, 18:23 PM: The Indians have confirmed the news through their Twitter feed.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.