Posts By Bob Toth
Monday night, there was a changing of the guard at the top of the American League Central Division. A Kansas City win combined with a Detroit Tigers loss moved the Royals into the driver’s seat, proving that nothing is settled in the Central. Now five and a half games in back of KC, the Cleveland Indians will look to stay relevant in both the divisional and AL Wild Card races as they host the Arizona Diamondbacks in the club’s final interleague series of 2014.
Cleveland (59-59), despite struggling to stay afloat this season with ineffective starting pitching, horrendous defense, inconsistent offense, and injuries, still finds itself within striking distance for a playoff opportunity. They climbed back to .500 again this weekend after taking the final two games of their three-game series at Yankee Stadium. They dropped Friday’s opener by a 10-6 final, as five runs in the first and sixth innings were too much to overcome. They got the usual stellar outing from Corey Kluber on Saturday and his relief corps secured the 3-0 shutout. A successful spot start from Carlos Carrasco paced the club to a 4-1 win on Sunday afternoon.
If you’re still riding the roller coaster ride that has been the Cleveland Indians season, congratulations on wearing your Cleveland sports pride and pain on your sleeve.
After 117 games, the Indians have been a largely underwhelming team. A frantic finish to the 2013 season led the club back to the postseason for the first time since 2007, but offseason rotation and lineup concerns were relatively overlooked. While the Indians did not lose anything on the offensive side of the ball in free agency over the winter, their upgrade of David Murphy to a platoon and Nyjer Morgan to the bench left a gaping need in the lineup for a power bat, especially a right-handed stick. The rotation, one that saw the departures of Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez to free agency, opted to build from within around mainstays Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister.
Only Kluber remains and that is largely at play for Cleveland’s 58-59 record heading into action Sunday afternoon. Yet despite the subpar play over the first 70% of the season, the Indians are actually closer to the top of the division than they were at this time last season.
The Cleveland Indians have been a very average looking baseball team throughout the season and their record has shown it. As they try to keep the American League Wild Card race in sight, they will have to take down one of the teams in front of them, the New York Yankees, this weekend to help keep things close.
Cleveland (57-58) heads to the Big Apple to continue their roller coaster ride of a season. The team, desperate for a long winning streak, instead wins a few, then loses a few, and yet somehow is still within striking distance as an easier slate over the final two months of the season gives them a glimmer of hope. They did not, however, play like a team with playoff aspirations this week, as after they won 7-1 on Monday night behind Corey Kluber, they dropped a 9-2 final Tuesday to end a ten-game home winning streak against the Reds before losing 8-3 on Wednesday and 4-0 on Thursday to extend their road losing streak in Cincinnati to eight.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Josh Tomlin was recalled from Triple-A Columbus with a chance to prove he belonged in the Major League rotation. Instead, he allowed six runs on eight hits in four and one-third innings, including a costly three-run homer in the second, as the Cincinnati Reds ended the Indians four game winning streak and ten game home winning streak over the Reds on Tuesday night in a 9-2 final.
Tomlin (5-8) was in his usual form of late – good control, just one walk, a decent tally of strikeouts, but a high hit rate and a costly deep fly that proved to be too much for his offensive teammates to overcome, especially against one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League this season in Johnny Cueto.
The 2014 rendition of the Battle of Ohio returns this week as the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds play a four game home-and-home series, beginning Monday and Tuesday at Progressive Field, as the two clubs look to finally find a decisive winner in the contest.
The Indians (56-55) got back on track over the weekend by sweeping the Texas Rangers. On Friday night, the Indians offense erupted for ten runs and 13 hits off of the Texas starting pitcher in a 12-2 final. The Cleveland pitching staff combined on a five-hit shutout on Saturday in a 2-0 final. A game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off blast from Michael Brantley lifted the Tribe to a 4-3 come from behind victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Cleveland Indians officially unveiled a second statue at Progressive Field on Saturday night with the addition of a monument to left handed slugger Jim Thome outside of Heritage Park.
The iconic image of Thome with his bat extended at home plate in anticipation of a pitch is the first statue to be placed in the ball park since Bob Feller’s statue was part of the opening of Jacobs Field in 1994.
The non-waiver trade deadline came and went Thursday and hopes for substantial upgrades to the Cleveland Indians roster went unfulfilled for the fan base. The team then went out and dropped the series finale to Seattle to lose both the series and season series to the Mariners. The Tribe will try to get back on track, sans Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera, as they host the Texas Rangers for three this weekend.
The Indians (53-55) dropped a 5-2 decision on Tuesday night as four run-scoring extra bases hits in the fourth inning proved to be the difference. Corey Kluber ousted Felix Hernandez on Wednesday behind an 85-pitch three-hit complete game 2-0 shutout. A two-run shot in the eighth by the Mariners’ Mike Zunino slipped Seattle by Cleveland, 6-5, on Thursday night. Despite the subpar series, the Indians lost no ground to the Detroit Tigers, who dropped two of three to Chicago.
Prior to Thursday afternoon’s 4:00 PM non-waiver trade deadline, the Cleveland Indians dealt starting shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to the Washington Nationals with cash for utility player Zach Walters, per multiple media reports.
The trade of Cabrera opens a hole in the middle of the diamond that will be presumably filled in the intermediate by Mike Aviles and Jose Ramirez. Cabrera was due to depart the team at the end of the season via free agency, with prospect Francisco Lindor waiting in the wings at Triple-A Columbus.
Despite a fantastic start to their first road trip of the second half, the Cleveland Indians sputtered in trips through Minnesota and Kansas City, ending what started out as a 3-1 road trip with a 5-6 record. They will open up an eight game homestand, their first since the last series prior to the All-Star Break, on Tuesday night as they host the Seattle Mariners.
The Indians (52-53) will look to extend their 29-19 home record, one of the best in the American League, over the course of the next eight home games. It will be a welcomed change of pace for the club after stumbling in KC, where they dropped the first three of a four game set.
The Indians wasted a strong starting outing and lost a 2-1 final on Thursday in 14 innings. A two-run home run in the eighth inning by Billy Butler bumped the Royals past the Indians on Friday night, 6-4. On Saturday, a five-run second inning was squandered as Cleveland surrendered seven unanswered runs, including the deciding two-run shot by Butler in the fifth, in a 7-5 loss. The Indians offense produced in double-digit quantities on Sunday in a decisive 10-3 win to wrap up the road trip.
This weekend, the Class of 2014 will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For the third consecutive season, no former Cleveland Indians representative is to be enshrined.
The last time former Indians were added to the list of 306 members of the Hall of Fame was in 2011, when former second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven were selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and joined executive Pat Gillick, who was selected by the Veterans Committee.
This year, all six men entering the Hall saw memorable moments in their careers against the Indians.
What looked to be a promising start ended in a disappointing finish in Kansas City on Saturday night, as Cleveland squandered a five-run second inning by allowing seven unanswered runs in the middle frames as the Royals came away with a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Indians.
The Royals erupted off of Indians starter Zach McAllister, chipping away at the Cleveland lead over the third and fourth innings before taking the lead for good in the fifth.
The Cleveland Indians will look to make up ground in the American League Central Division while trying to hold off the hard charging Kansas City Royals. The two teams will play a four-game set starting Thursday night from Kauffman Stadium.
Cleveland (51-50) could not ride a strong series against Detroit into the Twin Cities, as they dropped two of three to Minnesota at Target Field. After the Indians tied the game in the top of the eighth on Monday night, Bryan Shaw allowed the deciding response blast to Josh Willingham in the bottom of the frame to give the Twins a 4-3 win. The Indians offense erupted on Tuesday for eight runs, including four insurance runs in the ninth, in an 8-2 win. Their bats went silent on Wednesday, as they mustered five hits against a team of Twins relievers in a 3-1 loss.