Posts By Bob Toth
Another suddenly hot American League Central opponent will come to the shores of Lake Erie this weekend, as the Cleveland Indians host the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins (33-36) have won four of their last five, including their three-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox at home at Target Field. They are 10-7 in June.
The Indians (36-35) have won three consecutive series immediately following their eight-game losing streak earlier in the month. They are 7-10 in June but reclaimed second place in the Central after briefly losing their grip on it at the beginning of their series with Kansas City.
A battle for second place in the American League Central will take place at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario Streets this week as the Cleveland Indians welcome the red-hot rival Royals of Kansas City into town for a three-game series.
The Royals (33-34) come into town on a very good streak and trailing the Indians by just one-half game in the division. They have won all four series played entirely in the month of June and have an 11-4 record for the month. They have put together winning streaks of six and three games in the last two weeks.
The Indians (34-34) have now won back-to-back series for the first time since early May, taking series against two high quality opponents, the Texas Rangers and the Washington Nationals. Cleveland owns a 305-290 advantage in matchups with Kansas City all-time, dating back to the Royals’ inception in 1969.
Corey Kluber gave the Indians eight shutout innings and Vinnie Pestano closed it out as Cleveland defeated the Washington Nationals, 2-0, on a beautiful Father’s Day afternoon to claim the interleague series.
Kluber (5-4) effectively worked into and out of trouble, getting timely strikeouts and double plays throughout the game to earn his fifth win of the season. Kluber was in control of his pitches throughout the game, allowing seven hits but giving up no free passes. Eight Nationals batters were vicitimized by strike threes at the plate.
The gradual decline of baseball as America’s Pastime has been a reoccurring topic of discussion amongst those who follow the sport for many years.
Baseball has not been marketed as effectively as the National Football League, which has capitalized on prime time games, a short 16-game schedule, and a bit of parity from the implementation of a salary cap. Baseball is not dominated by highly publicized and paid star athletes and commercial stars, as with the National Basketball Association. Both sports are easier to play and easier to play in small groups. Throw the ball, catch the ball. Pass the ball, shoot the ball. Throw in some defense for good measure.
Baseball, despite inflating contracts and a shadow of the steroid saga still chasing its formerly good name, is more reminiscent of an older day, when things moved more slowly. The decline of baseball has been occasionally linked to the absence of the fathers from the homes of the present, whether it is because of the ever increasing needs of parents to be active members of the work force to generate income for the home, or because of the overall increase in single parent homes throughout the nation.
After a painful road trip against the Yankees, Tigers, and Rangers, the Cleveland Indians return home for their final nine home games of the month of June, beginning with a series against the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
The Nationals (33-32) come to Progressive Field for the first time since 2010. A projected playoff team by many prior to the season, Washington has struggled to stay above the .500 mark throughout the season. They were 13-14 after April, 28-27 after May, and improved to 5-5 in June with a win on Thursday.
The Indians (32-33) said goodbye to a season-worst eight game losing streak that began on the final day of their previous homestand. After being swept by New York and Detroit, they took two of three from a struggling Texas team during the week. The Nationals and Indians have split their six meetings together at three wins a piece and two wins each at home. The all-time advantage for the two franchises tips in the favor of the Nationals, who as the Montreal Expos won two of three games in 2002. For some more information on the histories of the two clubs and their cities, with his usual witty insight, check out this contribution from our own Vince Guerrieri on William World News.
Maybe an unfamiliar foe will do the Cleveland Indians some good.
The Indians (30-32) have dropped eleven straight games on the road and seven straight overall. They begin a three-game series with the Texas Rangers on Monday evening after being swept in each of their last two series against New York and Detroit. They may welcome competition from the American League West – on the season, they are a combined 10-1 against western opponents. They are 6-17 against the AL East and 9-10 in the AL Central.
The Rangers (37-25) begin an eleven-game homestand with the Indians. They are 3-5 to start the month of June and 8-6 against the AL Central this season. They have a half-game lead over Oakland for the lead of the AL West and boast an 18-8 record at home on the year, the best record of any AL team at home this season.
Many Cleveland Indians fans seem to share the sentiment that we have all seen this movie before. The hope is that this particular version has some sort of alternate ending we have yet to see, with a much happier end result.
The 2013 Indians team has been streaky throughout the season. When the offense was clicking, the rotation was struggling. When the rotation was solid, the bullpen was struggling. When the bullpen was going strong, they could not get to the mound in a meaningful opportunity with a close game to preserve because the offense and starting pitching would not let it be so. Too few times has the entire machine been functioning on all cylinders.
The Indians just are not playing good baseball right now. There is no real denying of that. But is this a June swoon to be likened to the midseason collapses of the last several years, or just a temporary stretch of bad baseball made worse by a series of slumps, injuries, and unfortunate scheduling?
Detroit pounded spot starter Carlos Carrasco for six earned runs in four innings of work and held off a late Cleveland charge as the Tigers defeated the Indians 6-4 on Saturday afternoon.
The Indians briefly held the lead early in the ball game.
A reeling Cleveland Indians squad continues a tough road trip as they head to Detroit to play three this weekend against the rival Tigers.
The Indians (30-29) have not played well at all since losing a two-game midweek series with the Tigers in late May. Since that sweep, they are 4-12 and have fallen out of first place. They had taken two of three earlier in the season in Detroit.
The Tigers (32-26) have enjoyed home cooking this season. They are 19-10 on the season at Comerica Park, the second-best winning percentage at home of American League teams. They have not been exempt from the struggles affecting the AL Central, as they have dropped six of ten and have failed to capitalize on the Indians slide to increase their distance in the division.
The Cleveland Indians will wrap up their season series with the New York Yankees as they head to the Big Apple for three games this week, beginning Monday night.
The Indians (30-26) finished their brief five-game homestand against Cincinnati and Tampa Bay at 3-2. After sweeping the home half of a home-and-home series with the Reds, they dropped two of three to the Rays. Even though they have been playing through a tough stretch of games with several difficult losses, they remain just one-half game out of first place in the American League Central.
Since their doubleheader with the Indians on May 13th, the Yankees (31-25) have had difficulties on the field. They have won just two of their seven series since, losing two of three from Seattle, Baltimore, and Boston and being swept in four straight by the New York Mets. Their recent woes have dropped them to third in the AL East, three games behind the front-running Red Sox and a half-game behind the Orioles for second place and the Wild Card lead.
The 2013 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft will occur this week. The Cleveland Indians will draft fifth overall.
In two of the big three sports in Cleveland, draft days are treated like a city-wide holiday. The difference for those watching and waiting for the results of the MLB draft is that only in rare cases do you see the players picked actually pay dividends within the next few seasons.
Players typically toil for years in the minor league system employed by the MLB, as teams work players through several tiers of the farm system, honing their skills and developing the young prospects into productive big league contributors, if all goes right. But every now and then, there are exceptions to the usual order of things. The Indians’ Cody Allen is one of these exceptions.
Ubaldo Jimenez is making it harder and harder to question that he has sorted out the pitching problems that plagued him through his first two years in a Cleveland Indians uniform.
Behind perhaps the best outing of his Indians career, Cleveland silenced the Tampa Bay offense and had some Saturday afternoon fireworks as they blanked the Rays, 5-0.