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9/14/2013 7:08 P.M. ET

Francona not surprised by Red Sox turnaround

CHICAGO -- Tribe manager Terry Francona -- who managed the Boston Red Sox from 2004-11 and won two World Series championships with the club -- said he's very impressed, but not surprised at, the team's success this season following a 69-93 record in 2012.

"If you go back and look at my quotes when [Red Sox manager John Farrell] got hired, I said their glass got immediately half-full," Francona said. "Because there was instant buy-in with Dustin Pedroia, Clay Buchholz, John Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and that group of players because they respected him so much."

The Red Sox beat the Yankees, 5-1, on Saturday to improve to a Major League-best 91-59, and hold a commanding lead in the American League East.

"I was actually surprised that people weren't picking them to win more games because they are a good team," Francona said. "[The success] doesn't surprise me."

Salazar working to minimize pitches

CHICAGO -- Indians starter Danny Salazar is averaging 12 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, but the rookie flamethrower isn't necessarily trying to strike out opposing hitters.

"I don't think about striking guys out too much," Salazar said. "My main goal is to attack. My fastball is my best pitch, and I use it and they [often] miss it."

Salazar -- who is on an 80-pitch limit per start after having Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2010 -- has pitched a combined 7 2/3 innings over his last two starts. The right-hander said he's mindful of his pitch count and tries to study film to see if he can find ways to minimize the number of pitches.

"They have me on a pitch count right now, so that's why I come into the clubhouse and watch video to see what I'm doing, like whether I'm pulling myself a little bit to the side instead of going through my delivery," he said.

Salazar added that though more strikeouts can mean a higher pitch count, he likes to utilize his best pitch, which often causes opponents to swing and miss.

"If I'm throwing my fastball and they hit foul [after] foul and then they strike out, I don't want to throw an offspeed pitch and have them get a hit out of it," he said. "Sometimes I just don't want that because I know that if I miss [with a pitch], that's not good."

Salazar has high praise for his catchers, whom he is still getting to know, having made eight career starts in the big leagues.

"[Carlos] Santana and [Yan] Gomes are both great," he said. "I follow them and sometimes I shake them off, but that's normal. They both call a good game and each is a little bit different, with one calling more fastballs than the other one. But that's their style, and I like it."

Though it's unknown how he might be used if the Indians make it to the postseason, Salazar is excited to be a part of the Tribe's playoff push.

"Not only do you like to join the team because they're close to the playoffs, but this has always been my dream, to be up here."

Tribe manager Terry Francona said that it's still too early to forecast how Salazar might factor in come October if Cleveland makes the playoffs.

"[What we do with Salazar] would probably depend on who pitched last and that's so far ahead of where we are right now, but I hope we have to make that decision," Francona said.

Bullpen management difficult with expanded rosters

CHICAGO -- Indians manager Terry Francona said that managing a bullpen in September can be difficult because matchups with opposing hitters can become almost irrelevant.

"You have so many players in September, and part of what it can do is with your matchup guys, you can almost eliminate them," said Francona, who called on seven relievers in Friday's 3-1 victory over the White Sox.

"One year I had Chad Bradford and Mike Myers, and the whole month of September I could hardly use either one of them because you bring them in and [the other team] can bring in three-for-one because some teams had 10 guys on the bench."

Francona added that while having 15 relievers in the bullpen isn't the best scenario, the Tribe's plethora of relief help can be very helpful if a starter isn't able to go deep into a game.

"It's not the most ideal scenario for us, but with the situation that we're in, if we ever got into a game or two where we had early exits, if it saves us a game, that might be enough, he said."

That proved true for Friday's game, when starter Danny Salazar -- who is on an 80-pitch limit per start -- neared that limit in the fourth inning. The Tribe's bullpen yielded one run over the next 5 1/3 frames to close out the victory.

Worth noting

• The Indians used eight pitchers in Friday's 3-1 win over the White Sox. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third game of nine innings or fewer in Major League history in which a team used at least eight pitchers and allowed no more than one run.

It last happened on Oct. 3, 2012, when the Braves used eight pitchers in a 4-0 win over the Pirates. The only other occasion it occurred was on Oct. 2, 2010, when the Rays used eight pitchers to defeat the Royals, also by a score of 4-0.

• Going into Saturday's game against the White Sox, the Tribe's pitching staff had posted a 2.79 road ERA since the All-Star break, the second-lowest mark in the Majors behind Kansas City (2.24).

Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.