After José Ramírez tied the game in the bottom of the 9th with a solo HR, next up was the rookie Naquin, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh. Naquin hit a walk-off, inside-the-park HR, the second in Indians history and first since 1916. Francona’s Richie Incognito Authentic Jersey team had 11 walk-off wins, the most of any team.
AL Central champions: Sept. 26 at Tigers
Cleveland won its first division title since 2007 with a victory at the Tigers in late September. Staff ace Corey Kluber started the game, but left after four innings due to injury — a moment indicative of the injuries Francona’s team struggled with all season. They still won the game, behind HR from Coco Crisp and Roberto Pérez. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen Robert Blanton Authentic Jersey combined for 2? scoreless innings pitched with five strikeouts — shades of what was to come in the playoffs.
Here is a look into what they did to win their awards and some memorable moments from their award-winning seasons.
What did Francona do?
Terry Francona won the AL Manager of the Year for the second time in four seasons. He is the first Cleveland Indians manager to win multiple times. Eric Wedge (2007) is the team’s only other winner since the award’s inception in 1983.
Francona led the Indians to 94 wins, 8.5 more than their Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook over/under and their most in a season since 2007.
This was Francona’s fourth straight winning season since taking over the Indians in 2013, and he also had a winning record in each of his eight seasons as Boston Red Sox skipper. Elias Sports Bureau research tells us that Francona is the fifth manager with 12 consecutive winning seasons in the expansion era (since 1961). The others: Sparky Anderson (17 straight), Earl Weaver (16), Bobby Cox (15) and Joe Torre (14).
Francona’s Indians had the second-best record in American League despite dealing with a spate of injuries. He got only 11 games from Michael Brantley, whose OPS+ of 139 ranked 13th in MLB over the previous two seasons. Starting catcher Yan Gomes played only 74 games, and pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar were limited to 25 starts each.