Terry Francona wants John Axford back in the closer’s role eventually

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About a month ago, Indians manager Terry Francona took John Axford out of the closer’s role after the right-hander had compiled a 4.91 ERA in 14 2/3 innings while blowing two saves and losing three games. Since then, the Indians have used Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison, and Mark Rzepczynski to nail down saves and it’s been working out well.

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports, however, Francona would like to see Axford back in the closer’s role eventually even though his current corps of hurlers are getting the job done. Since his demotion into lower-leverage innings, Axford has a 1.08 ERA with 11 strikeouts and four walks in 8 1/3 innings.

Manny Machado called for interference with Orlando Arcia

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Fresh off our “Manny Machado didn’t hustle” post, here’s one about him trying a little too hard. Machado was called for interference in the bottom of the fourth inning during Monday night’s NLCS Game 3 against the Brewers at Dodger Stadium. It was actually Machado’s second attempt to interfere with Orlando Arcia during the game.

In the bottom of the second, Machado led off with a single. Cody Bellinger followed up by hitting a grounder to second baseman Travis Shaw, who fed to Arcia. Machado slid towards Arcia enough to disrupt the play, allowing Bellinger to reach first base safely. The Brewers didn’t challenge, in part because Arcia didn’t attempt a throw.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fourth. Machado again leads off and again reaches base, this time with a walk. Bellinger hits another grounder. First baseman Jesús Aguilar snags the ball and fires to Arcia covering the second base bag. Machado slides into second base and reaches out with his right hand to mess with Arcia’s throw to first base. It succeeds, as Arcia’s throw skips past first base towards the dugout. Brewers manager Craig Counsell challenged the call, alleging slide interference (the “Chase Utley rule”). The umpires reviewed the play and agreed that Machado did indeed interfere with Arcia, so Bellinger was called out. What made Machado’s effort even worse is that Bellinger would’ve reached easily regardless, so there was no need to interfere with Arcia.

The Dodgers trail the Brewers 1-0 through the first half of the game. The Brewers got their run early thanks to an RBI double by Ryan Braun off of Walker Buehler in the top of the first. Jhoulys Chacín has pitched excellently for the Brewers thus far.