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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | May 19, 2019

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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 34

Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 34

| On 22, Feb 2019

Major League Baseball will kick off the 2019 season with its earliest start ever (excluding international openers) as all 30 teams will take the field on March 28. Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 34 days

Two future Cy Young award winners in Cleveland, one future league Most Valuable Player, and an American League Rookie of the Year all spent time in the number 34 for the Cleveland Indians on the way to taking home some impressive hardware.

None of those applied to the last player to wear the number for the Indians, pitcher Zach McAllister, nor reliever Justin Grimm, who is in camp with the Indians on a non-roster spring invite in the number 34.

McAllister found a home in the Indians bullpen after spending his first four years in the Majors in the team’s rotation. A 2010 addition from the New York Yankees in a trade for outfielder Austin Kearns, McAllister showed promise in the early years of his career, but by 2014, he began to fall out of favor and was sent back to Triple-A. When he returned the next month, he worked almost exclusively in relief, outside of a handful of short spot starts.

Kluber & Marson – Leon Halip/Getty Images

He made a career-high 60 appearances in relief in 2015 with an even 3.00 ERA and the only save of his big league career while averaging 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings. He made 53 appearances in 2016 and followed it up with another 50 in 2017, posting a career-best 2.61 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP while averaging more than a strikeout per inning pitched for the third straight year.

Last season, McAllister’s time with the Tribe came to an end. Pitching in his eighth big league season and his fourth straight solely viewed as a reliever, the righty went 1-2 with four holds, one blown save, a 6.20 ERA, and a 1.49 WHIP with elevated hit and homer rates and a significant decline in his strikeout rate over his 41 games. On August 3, he was designated for assignment and on August 7, he was given his outright release. He signed with the Detroit Tigers and appeared in three games for the parent club, but allowed eight runs in three and one-third innings before being outrighted to the minors. He opted for free agency instead and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed six runs over six innings of five games for their Triple-A affiliate before the minor league schedule concluded.

The 6’6” righty is now in camp with the Texas Rangers, where he hopes to continue his big league career.

Cy Young winners Cliff Lee and Corey Kluber both spent the early years of their Indians career in the number 34.

Lee actually wore 65 when he debuted with the Indians in 2002, just months after being acquired as part of the massive prospect haul from the Montreal Expos for Bartolo Colon. He switched over to 34 during the next season and wore it for parts of the 2003 and 2004 seasons before transitioning over to his more familiar 31, the number he wore in 2008 when he won the AL Cy in his seventh season with the club.

Kluber, like the above mentioned pitchers an acquired unproven young arm (but in one fleecing of a trade), was picked up by the Tribe in a three-team deadline trade in 2010. He came to Cleveland from San Diego, while the Padres received Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals. Pitching prospect Nick Greenwood also relocated from San Diego to St. Louis, while the Indians sent starting pitcher Jake Westbrook to his new home near the Gateway Arch.

Kluber debuted with three relief appearances the next season before joining the starting rotation in 2012 in his new 28. In 2013, he claimed his spot in the rotation for good, winning eleven games that season before his first Cy Young campaign in 2014 when he led the league in wins (18) and FIP (2.35) while leading the Majors in starts with 34. He posted his second and third 18-win seasons in 2016 and 2017, taking home a third place finish in the Cy in ’16 before winning the award for the second time in 2017. That year, he led the Majors in wins (18), ERA (2.25), ERA+ (202), WHIP (0.87), complete games (5), shutouts (3), and strikeouts per walk (7.36).

Kluber earned a third place finish in the Cy voting in 2018, his third straight top three finish and the fourth time in five years he had done so. He went 20-7 on the year with a 2.89 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP, and he led the league in innings pitched (215), walk rate (1.4), shutouts (1), and complete games (2 – leading all of MLB).

Unlike the two Cy Young winners, Joe Charboneau earned his special award while wearing 34 for the Tribe.

A second round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1976 draft, he was traded to Cleveland following the 1978 season for pitcher Cardell Camper, who would play just three big league games in his career (all for Cleveland in 1977).

Charboneau – Kurt Mutchler/The Plain Dealer

“Super Joe” lived up to the nickname in his first season in the Majors, appearing in 131 games while slashing .289/.358/.488 with 17 doubles, two triples, 23 homers, and 87 RBI. He received 102 voting points in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting, taking home 73% of the share of the vote. Fifteen of 28 first place votes went to the 26-year-old as he easily defeated the runners up – Boston’s Dave Stapleton (40 voting points), Minnesota’s Doug Corbett (38 points), Toronto’s Damaso Garcia (35 points), and Chicago’s Britt Burns (33 points).

Injuries would prove costly to Charboneau’s career, however, as he was limited to 48 games in 1981 and just 22 in 1982. He played in just eleven games for Cleveland’s Double-A affiliate in 1983 and was released after the season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in February of 1984, but spent the season in the minors at the Class-A and Triple-A levels in the last pro action of his career.

Lou Boudreau, the team’s second of three MVP winners in franchise history, debuted in the Majors in 1938, drawing a walk in two plate appearances in the number 34 before switching to the number that would eventually be retired by the club, 5.

Boudreau spent 13 seasons in Cleveland and two more in Boston during his Hall of Fame career. He took on managerial duties of the Indians in 1942 and made seven different trips to the All-Star Game as a player. He drew MVP votes in ten straight seasons for the Indians, finishing fifth in 1940 and third in 1947 before he claimed the award for himself during his incredible 1948 season. He had a career-high 199 hits, 18 homers, and 106 RBI that season while hitting .355 and bringing the World Series title back to Cleveland for the first time since 1920.

He played with the club through 1950 before he moved on to the Red Sox organization. He played two seasons in Boston and managed the club for three years in total before spending time at the helm of the Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to 1957 and the Chicago Cubs in 1960 (after exiting the broadcast booth in a swap with then-manager Charlie Grimm). The move preceded the disastrous College of Coaches experiment at Wrigley and Boudreau returned to the broadcast booth through 1987.

Other notable 34s in Tribe history (39 in total): Ray Gardner (first to wear it in MLB in 1929), Odell Hale (1934-36), Dale Mitchell (1948-50), Sam McDowell (1963), Steve Hargan (1965-72), Jim Kern (1974-78), Brian Anderson (1996-97), Dave Burba (1998-2002), Kevin Millwood (2005), Kerry Wood (2009-10).

Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below.

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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 61 – Dan Otero
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 59 – Carlos Carrasco
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 58 – Neil Ramirez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 57 – Shane Bieber
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 56 – Cody Anderson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 55 – Roberto Perez
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 52 – Mike Clevinger
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 49 – Tyler Olson
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 48
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 47 – Trevor Bauer
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 46 – Jon Edwards
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 45 – Adam Plutko
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 44 – Nick Goody
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 41 – Carlos Santana
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 39 – Oliver Perez
Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 38 – Eric Haase
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Countdown to Indians’ Opening Day – 35 – Ben Taylor

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