ST. LOUIS -- Nick Hagadone has earned his manager's trust. Manny Acta trusts that he can call on the 26-year old left-hander in any situation and Hagadone will deliver.
Acta went to Hagadone in the ninth inning on Friday night with a four run lead over the Cardinals. Hagadone shut down St. Louis in order in the final frame.
"I think he's gone through the process," Acta said of Hagadone on Saturday afternoon. "You start putting guys out there in uncomfortable situations and see how they handled themselves. I think he's gone through all those steps and now I can trust him to throw strikes in any kind of environment. I think last night was a good example of that."
Hagadone owns a 2.75 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched this season. He's holding left-handers to a mere .121, and is improving against righties, who are batting .216 off of him.
Acta pointed to Hagadone's hard work in the offseason on improving his command as one of the main reasons for his success. The Indians' coaching staff holds routine meetings with their players, and Acta said Hagadone took what they had to say to heart.
"We're pretty honest to them and give them good feedback on what they need to work on," Acta said. "If the guy trusts what we tell them, it gives them a pretty good idea of what they need to work on. He needed to work on his command. He knows that. And he's improved. You can tell. He's a guy that down the road should be able to pitch against righties and lefties because he's got the stuff to do it." "He's not a finished product," Acta said of Hagadone. "But right now his heartbeat is pretty good along with his stuff."
Kipnis sore, but in lineup vs. Cardinals
ST. LOUIS -- Jason Kipnis watched the replay of the foul ball he hit off his right knee during the first inning of Cleveland's 6-2 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night just once Saturday afternoon before pausing the video and walking away from the computer.
It wasn't easy to watch.
Despite experiencing some soreness in his knee on Saturday, Kipnis is in the lineup tonight for the Indians in Game 2 of the three game series in St. Louis.
"He's tough," Indians manager Manny Acta said of Kipnis on Saturday. "He's not gonna let everybody know how banged up he is because he loves to play."
Kipnis went to the dirt for a couple of minutes after getting hit with the nasty foul tip last night. Trainers came out to tend to Kipnis, but the second baseman walked it off, remained in the game and finished the night 2-for-5.
Kipnis iced his knee before Saturday's game, and said he didn't sit much during the game Saturday and was walking around the dugout throughout the game.
"Just trying to stay loose," said Kipnis.
Given Kipnis' toughness, Acta said he had no thoughts of asking Kipnis if he'd like to take the night off.
"Guys like Kipnis are a breath of fresh air, guys that can go all out every day," Acta said.
Indians like scrappy hitting style
ST. LOUIS -- The Indians' lineup is not stacked with power hitters, and that's just fine.
Cleveland ranks 24th in the Majors with 47 home runs, and the Indians' .382 team slugging percentage ranks 25th in baseball. The more telling Cleveland stat is runs scored. The club is ninth in the big leagues with 257 runs this season, proving that you don't need to hit the ball far to plate runs.
"We just go out there and try to handle what we can control," center fielder Michael Brantley, who's riding a 16-game hitting streak, said. "We know we're going to have to create runs. We know we're not all going to hit 40, 50, 60 home runs, that's not gonna happen with this lineup. So we have to go out there and run the bases the right way and take the extra base and create some runs by stealing some bases as well."
The Indians collected 11 hits against St. Louis on Friday -- nine of them singles. Cleveland also reached base safely on thee errors by the Cardinals. Their scrappy style of play was evident when Shin-Soo Choo ran hard all the way on a routine grounder to Allen Craig at first base, and when Craig bobbled the ball trying to flip it to Jake Westbrook covering the bag, Choo beat out the play with ease.
"We took advantage of it," Indians manager Manny Acta said on Friday. "And that's the way you're supposed to play the game."
As Brantley noted, the Indians' 48 stolen bases this season are the second-most in baseball. They also boast a .332 team on-base-percentage, which ranks seventh in the league.
"We're fighters," Brantley said. "We're going to give good [at-bats] every time out and just grind it out till the end of the game."
Ask Michael Brantley about his 16-game hitting streak -- the longest active streak in the Majors -- and he'll responded puzzlingly.
"I don't know what streak you're talking about," Brantley dead-panned on Saturday. "I just go out there and take every at-bat as I can and do the best I can. It's mostly swinging at good pitches, that's the key to having success at the plate. I'm putting quality swings on quality pitches and the results will come out in the end."
The Indians own a Major League-best 10-2 record in one-run games this season. They've owned the American League's best record in one-run games over the past four seasons.
Mike Still is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.