CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians drew many headlines and much discussion when they traded highly-touted minor leaguers to the New York Yankees in exchange for All-Star left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in late July.
But the acquisition of Miller was far from the only deal the Indians made, as they traded for outfielders Brandon Guyer and Coco Crisp to bolster the lineup and add veteran leadership to a young group of defenders.
And all three players have proven to be difference makers in their own ways in leading the Indians not only to a Central Division championship, but also, a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and their first trip to the A.L. Championship Series in nine years.
“Sometimes, moves go a little bit under the radar,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Miller’s didn’t. Guyer’s maybe did a little more than I thought it should. He’s a guy that’s got 1.000 OPS against left handers, which is really meaningful. I think the coaches, the players, the people in the clubhouse knew and respected and appreciated what Chris (Antonetti) and his guys did do.”
Boston’s bullpen did not surrender a run in the first 23 innings of the ALDS, but the Indians got to their former farm-hand, Drew Pomeranz, with one out in the top of the sixth inning of Game 3.
After third baseman Jose Ramirez drew a lead-off walk on just five pitches, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall laid down a sacrifice hit to move the runner into scoring position. Then, despite being down in the count, 1-2, Crisp smacked a two-run home run over the wall in left-center field.
Crisp’s home run gave the Indians a 4-1 lead over the Red Sox and proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
“He’s not just here. He’s part of it,” Francona said. “I give him a lot of credit for that. I also give the guys in the clubhouse a lot of credit. Everybody feels like they’re a part of us, and I think that’s why we have a chance to be good, because we do it together.”
The Indians went 1-2-3 against Boston starter David Price in the first inning of Game 2, but in their second at-bat, they got to the 17-game winner by plating four runs and taking a 4-0 lead after two innings of play.
Guyer broke the scoreless tie when he popped a single into shallow center field out of the reach of the shortstop and in front of charging outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Willing to test Bradley’s throwing arm, Carlos Santana rounded third and headed for home for the first run of the game.
Then, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall followed with the big hit of the inning when after taking a called strike, he smashed a 1-1 pitch from Price off of the foul pole in right field for a three-run home run, the Indians’ fourth round-tripper of the series.
“That’s how it’s been since I’ve been here,” Guyer said. “The two months I’ve been here, every night we win, it’s someone new. Up and down the lineup, it could be anybody. If we’re not necessarily hitting that night, it could be a pitcher stepping up and going a complete game or Miller or anyone in our bullpen doing a great job. It’s just a lot of fun to be a part of this team with all the good players we have.”