'TI-TO! TI-TO!': Cleveland Guardians give manager Terry Francona win in final home game, 4-3 over Cincinnati Reds
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With thousands of fans chanting his name while wearing ‘Thank You Tito’ T-shirts, Francona said goodbye to Progressive Field after 11 seasons in the dugout.

CLEVELAND — Shane Bieber shut down Cincinnati for six innings and the Cleveland Guardians sent manager Terry Francona off with a victory Wednesday night in his final home game, 4-3 over the Reds, whose playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

Bieber (6-6) limited the Reds to one run and five hits in just his second start since July 15 — and maybe his last for Cleveland. The right-hander missed more than two months with elbow inflammation, one of several key injuries that contributed to the Guardians not defending their AL Central title.

RELATED: More Guardians coverage from WKYC

The Reds are in danger of missing the postseason as well. They fell two games behind Chicago in the NL wild-card race with just three games left.

The Guardians strung together five straight hits in the second inning off Reds starter Andrew Abbott (8-6), who didn’t get out of the third inning. Tyler Freeman and rookie Brayan Rocchio had RBI singles in Cleveland’s second.

Down 4-1, the Reds rallied with a pair of runs in the eighth off reliever Trevor Stephan. Pinch-hitter Nick Martini and Jonathan India hit consecutive doubles and Spencer Steer’s RBI groundout brought Cincinnati within one run.

Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase worked the ninth for his MLB-best 43rd save. The right-hander got a big assist from right fielder Ramón Laureano, who threw out Noelvi Marte trying to stretch a single into a double.

Francona was honored before the game with a touching video tribute chronicling his long tenure in Cleveland, a run that actually began in his boyhood as his dad, Tito, played six seasons as an outfielder with the Indians.

The 64-year-old Francona has been slowed by major health issues in recent years, and said he made the decision to step away after a tough, two-month stretch earlier this season.

He’s the winningest manager in Cleveland history, 13th on the career list and his two World Series titles in Boston — along with a memorable run in 2016 with the Guardians that came just short — all but guarantee enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.

After the final out, Francona was serenaded with “Tito! Tito!” chants from the crowd with many of the fans wearing “Thank You Tito” T-shirts.

Cincinnati needed this win. Bieber didn’t cooperate.

The 2020 AL CY Young winner was dialed in, pitching like the staff ace he’s been for years in Cleveland and could be elsewhere going forward. He walked none and struck out seven in one of his most efficient starts this season.

The Guardians were likely going to trade him before the deadline if Bieber hadn’t gotten hurt and shut down, and Cleveland’s front office may pursue a deal this winter before he enters his final arbitration eligible season.


The Guardians drew 1,834,068 fans in 78 dates at home in 2023, a 41.5% jump in attendance from last season. It’s their highest total since 2019 (1,926,701).

One of the biggest driving forces behind the increase was the team’s monthly ballpark pass. The $49 ticket gave fans a standing-room spot for every home game in that particular month.


Guardians: Rookie INF Gabriel Arias will miss the final four games with a small, non-displaced fracture in his right hand. Arias showed signs of being a productive hitter — there are no concerns about his defense — in the final month. Francona said the break was small, and if it was earlier in the season he would have kept playing.


Reds: Off Thursday before a three-game series to end the regular season in St. Louis. Rookie RHP Connor Phillips (1-0, 5.66 ERA) starts the opener against RHP Jake Woodford (2-2, 5.09).

Guardians: Following a day off, Cleveland begins a three-game, season-ending series in Detroit with RHP Cal Quantrill (3-7, 5.13) facing LHP Joey Wentz (3-12, 6.45) on Friday.

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