CHICAGO -- With a bullpen that had a 3.28 second-half ERA going into Friday's contest against the White Sox, Indians manager Terry Francona said he had to resist the urge to use his relievers too early or too often with his club chasing a playoff berth in the final weeks of the season.
"It's something that I really fight," Francona said. "I think that when you don't give your starter a chance as long as their stuff looks OK, I think you're just asking for trouble. You can overmanage in September, I think, and get yourself in trouble.
"So what we try to do is kind of stick to a formula. When we have the lead, we stay true to form, and when we're down, we try to mix and match with guys that are coming up. And you try to keep yourself in the game and get a look at guys."
Francona added that when the club was trailing, he tried to give his go-to relievers some rest.
"When you're losing, you try to stay in a game and stay away from the guys that you've gone to for most of the year," he said. "That's kind of the formula."
Raburn staying productive in limited role
CHICAGO -- Ryan Raburn has continued to produce offensively for the Indians despite playing in just three games since Aug. 18 because of right calf and left heel injuries.
Raburn -- who went into Friday's game hitting .286 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs in 203 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 performance with a homer and five RBIs Thursday -- said it was all a matter of understanding his role on the team and maintaining a relaxed approach at the plate.
"I'm just trying to keep [my hitting approach] as consistent as possible," Raburn said. "I try to keep the same routine, and I think the biggest emphasis when I get to the plate is that I'm not trying to get hits every time; I'm just trying to have a good at-bat and just let the results take care of themselves."
Going into Friday, Raburn had played in 73 of Cleveland's 146 games, used by manager Terry Francona particularly against left-handers. Raburn's recent injuries have further decreased his playing time, but he has managed to continue to make the most of his plate appearances, citing that he has been used in the same role before.
"It's just that you know how [Francona] is going to use you," Raburn said. "It's nothing to be surprised [about]. I've done it for five or six years now, so it's not something I'm starting just this year. It's tough; not a lot of guys can do it. Thankfully I've been able to have some success at it, and it'll keep me around the game a little longer.
"I've been prepared for everything they've thrown at me, and I think the longer the season progressed, the more I started getting onto my helm [about] kind of when I'd be going into certain situations, and then start preparing for it. And if I got in, I was ready, and if not, [I'd] sit back down and wait for another shot."
Tomlin satisfied with return from surgery
CHICAGO -- Josh Tomlin pitched in a Major League game Thursday night for the first time in over a year, completing his return from Tommy John surgery for a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
Tomlin -- who pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Thursday's 14-3 win over the White Sox -- said his return was emotional and satisfying.
"It was pretty special [and] pretty emotional, for sure," Tomlin said. "When you go through the [rehab] process for over a year and to get back to this point and to go out there and throw two scoreless innings was pretty special."
Tomlin added that while it was a challenge to return late in the season, especially with his team chasing a playoff berth, he was happy to be contributing to the effort.
"[To be in a playoff race] is the reason you play the game," the right-hander said. "You want to get out there and help your team win as many games as you can. … [My teammates] have been on the ground all year long, [and] I haven't actually been here with [them]. So for me, I feel a little bit fresh, so if I can go out there and throw a couple of innings and save [the rest of the bullpen], that's what I'll do."
Tomlin struggled through elbow pain in 2012, beginning the season as a starter and being moved to the bullpen in July before determining surgery was necessary in August. He posted a 5-8 record with a 6.36 ERA in 21 appearances (16 starts).
Manager Terry Francona said that while it was not the ideal backdrop for Tomlin's return to Major League action, he knows the 28-year-old will be a key part of the club's future.
"The circumstances that we're in right now aren't the perfect scenario for him right now," Francona said. "And I told him that. And he knows that. But that doesn't mean he's not a huge part of our future. We're going to do the best we can in this last month, knowing that next year is really [his] target."
Francona added that he was impressed with Tomlin's composure and the way he goes about the game.
"You know you're going to get every last ounce of whatever he has," Francona said. "You know he's going to pound the strike zone, work quick and give you an honest day's effort. There's a lot to be said about that."
• Right-hander Justin Masterson -- who strained a left oblique muscle in his Sept. 2 start against Baltimore -- continued his throwing schedule Friday, throwing on flat ground for the second consecutive day.
"He threw again today and will be [inactive] tomorrow," Francona said. "Then we'll ramp it up again Sunday. So there will be a natural progression, and you can't rush it. We'll just go according to plan."
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Thursday night marked the third occasion this season on which the Indians scored 14 runs in the first five innings of a game, also accomplishing the feat in a 19-6 win against the Astros on April 20, as well as in a 19-10 victory over the White Sox on June 28.
• The Indians' nine-game win streak against the White Sox entering Friday matched the longest active win streak of a Major League team against a single opponent, tying the Nationals (vs. the Mariners), D-backs (vs. the Astros), Angels (vs. the Tigers) and Rays (vs. the Twins).
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.