"When he worked ahead in the count, he was tremendous," Francona said of the 23-year-old right-hander. "When he fell behind, that's when they got their hits, on fastball counts. But when he worked ahead, he had a lot of success."
Francona was confident Salazar could handle the stage, and felt he held his own.
"He's going to be a special pitcher," Francona said.
Although their postseason ended quickly, it was a special ride for the Indians, who bonded from the first day of training camp and renewed hope in Cleveland fans.
"This might be one of the best group of guys I've ever played with, one of the most fun teams I've ever been on," said Kipnis, who made his first All-Star team. "The chemistry in here has been a great time, been a great learning experience for lots of younger guys, including me, and we're going to use it, the way we're feeling about it in the clubhouse right now. We're going to go into next year with a little more determination."
NOTES: The Indians were shut out in the postseason for the first time since 1998, when they were blanked by the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS. ... Indians RHP Joe Smith is eligible for free agency in the offseason, but hopes to return. "I love the organization, I love the clubhouse, and I want to be here because they treat you great," he said. "The Indians know I want to be back, so we'll see what happens." ... Indians reliever Chris Perez, who lost his closer's job in the final week of the season after two horrid performances, was kept on the 25-man roster for the game. Francona said it "wasn't a tough decision" and said part of it was out of loyalty to the two-time All-Star.