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Terry Francona returns to Progressive Field tonight for first time since July 4

Morning news and notes for Friday, July 21, 2017.

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Terry Francona really loves baseball and gets to manage a home game for the first time in a little while tonight. He’s also giving swimming a try and watching what he eats. But, as Cody Allen said, "This team is too good…to be playing like this. We’re supposed to make it easier on Tito, not harder."

The Royals #eviscerated Michael Fulmer and the Tigers last night, so Cleveland's lead over that trash .500 team is now down to a measly game and a half.

Indians Notes

• Here’s Jeff Sullivan with an excellent look at Mike Clevinger’s breakout season. Clev's H/9 has been amazing to follow, even if the BABiP is a bit on the lucky side. Jeff is bullish on the Tribe and even more bullish on Clevinger.

• The Indians, taking cues from LGT’s Phil, appear to have some amount of interest in Jay Bruce. Phil from LGT gleefuly broke this news to me on a free website called "Twitter" and my response remained "NOOOOOOOOOOOO".

Around baseball

• The Twins are trading for Jaime Garcia. Garcia has had a rough time lately, but this gives us another lefty to flail away against 2-3 times in the second half.

• The Mariners, more than a dozen games out of first place, traded nine tenths of their farm system for relief pitcher David Phelps. No way they regret this one. No way at all.

• Zack Cozart will probably be traded because he has no future in Cincinnati. Might not cost much.

• Cardinals baseball is on the decline. Finally. 79-win teams winning the World Series = The. Worst. (But better than winning it the way the Royals won it, if you’re asking a few months from now when we wonder if we should feel guilt.)

• So many people hate the Yankees that you wonder if they’ve seen the Indians attempt to play baseball this year.

• The man we refuse to discuss here was designated for assignment.

• Houston would be downright scary if they also had Zach Britton in their bullpen. (And a willingness to use him instead of Ubaldo in playoff games)

• The Angels released Danny Espinosa, who I guess is probably now the most interesting hitter not under contract.

• Giancarlo Stanton's name is surfacing again as a trade possibility, even though his contract is a problem.