With every game, the Indians face an important opportunity to improve their playoff chances. And during every game, manager Terry Francona gets nervous.
"I think it's a good nervous," Francona said. "I want our guys to do well so bad."
Francona's nerves will have to hold a bit longer. With their 9-4 win over the Mets on Saturday, the Indians kept pace with the Orioles as both clubs moved to within one game of the final American League Wild Card spot. The Rays, who hold that second spot, lost to the Mariners.
Cleveland has won five of its past six games in large part because of the starting rotation, which has a combined 2.23 ERA during that span. Right-hander Danny Salazar will hope to keep that trend going Sunday, when he will make his seventh Major League start. The 23-year-old right-hander will be pitching on six days' rest after throwing six scoreless innings on Sept. 1.
"He was efficient," Francona said of Salazar's last outing. "His future is obviously exciting. I mean, it's exciting now."
Salazar will face one of his old teammates at Triple-A Columbus in Mets starter Daisuke Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka spent nearly five months with Columbus before signing with the Mets as a temporary solution to their depleted rotation, a move that has certainly not worked out well so far.
In Matsuzaka's three starts with New York, he is 0-3 with a 10.95 ERA and 2.11 WHIP. He has faced 64 batters over 12 1/3 innings and allowed 15 earned runs. Despite his poor performance, manager Terry Collins didn't seem eager to pull him from the rotation. The Mets don't have many better options.
"There's no reason why we don't probably run him back out there again," Collins said after Matsuzaka's last start. "He's got to get going for us. We've got a lot more games to play this month, and he's going to be part of those games right now."
Indians: Gomes grabs bulk of playing time at catcher
The Indians have a problem behind the plate. Fortunately for Francona, it's a great problem to have.
With the presence of Carlos Santana and recent production of Yan Gomes, the Indians have two reliable catchers vying for playing time. Recently, the advantage has gone to Gomes. Since Aug. 1, he has been behind the plate for 193 innings -- including a start Saturday night -- compared to Santana's 116 2/3 innings. Francona has instead been using Santana as a designated hitter or first baseman to keep his bat in the lineup.
"Right now, fortunately, we seem to have two everyday catchers," Francona said. "That's pretty fortunate. We just try to use it to our advantage."
Mets: Wright to rehab in New York
As David Wright continues to rehab his strained right hamstring, he will do so with the Mets in New York.
Wright originally wanted to rehab in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to face live pitching. But with the end of Class A Advanced St. Lucie's season and injuries to pitchers there, finding arms to face has been difficult. A few members of the Mets' training staff in Port St. Lucie have also had health issues, preventing Wright from receiving enough individual treatment.
"I talked to David two days ago. He feels great. He just said, 'Look, there's nobody here to face,'" Collins said. "We need to get him up to where he can get some treatment done."
• With another stolen base Saturday night, Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. now has seven stolen bases in his past nine games. He has 20 steals since the All-Star break, the most in the Major Leagues.
• After not scoring eight runs at home since July 26, the Indians have now crossed that threshold in each of their past two games. They are 19-1 when scoring eight or more.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.