Posts By Bob Toth
The Tampa Bay Rays won their Home Run Derby competition with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Tuesday night with a 6-4 victory to even the series at one game apiece.
While the 2019 All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby may still be several years away, Danny Salazar looked the part of the fan-driven exhibition’s pitcher in a strange outing for the Indians right-hander. He gave Cleveland five-plus innings of work on the mound, but four homers offset a nine-strikeout performance and proved to be too much to overcome, despite the Indians dealing Rays starter Jake Odorizzi his worst start since his first outing of the season.
A busy week of roster transactions continued on Tuesday as the Cleveland Indians made five roster moves prior to their game with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The biggest of the moves is the promotion of top prospect Bradley Zimmer to the big league club. The addition of the fourth-year pro, who can play both center and right field, became a necessity when Abraham Almonte was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a right biceps strain.
A gem of an outing last Tuesday by Lynchburg starter Triston McKenzie caught the eyes of all of minor league baseball and the Carolina League rewarded his efforts by naming him the league’s Pitcher of the Week for games played between May 8 and May 14.
The 19-year-old right-hander made just one start during the week, but he made his mark in a dominating effort at home against the Carolina Mudcats that he will likely remember for some time.
What was projected to be an intriguing pitching matchup between Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer turned into a battle of offenses as the Indians held off a late Rays charge in an 8-7 win on Monday night.
The victory moved the Indians to the 20-win mark on the year as they became just the fourth American League team to reach the level. With the first place Minnesota Twins idle on Monday, the Indians pulled within a half game of the top spot in the AL Central while the Rays dropped to 19-22 on the season. It was the first time that Cleveland has won a home series opener since its very first series of the season against the Chicago White Sox.
The game was marred by early pitching problems for both starters and an early exit for the Tribe right-hander Carrasco, who left early with discomfort in his right pectoral muscle in another hit to an Indians roster heavily afflicted by injuries through the first month and a half of the season.
In need of a big offensive performance on Sunday after scoring just one run in the first two games of their series against the Minnesota Twins over the weekend, manager Terry Francona shuffled some pieces in his lineup and the team responded with eight big runs as the Tribe avoided a sweep and their first four-game losing skid since July of 2015.
The Indians (19-17) will look to use the momentum gained by the big victory in their finale with the Twins to put up a more consistent effort at the plate. In the middle of the pack offensively in the American League, they are averaging 4.22 runs per game this season after their recent slide at the plate. They have been supported by a pitching staff with the fourth-best ERA (3.75) in the league overall, but the worst ERA by a starting staff at 4.73. The bullpen, a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities, has picked up the starting five with a 1.84 ERA and has allowed an MLB-low four home runs. The Indians enter one game in back of first place Minnesota, which has a two-game edge in the loss column, and will look to get their record back over the .500 mark at home, where they are currently 7-8.
The home woes continued for the Columbus Clippers this week as their roster is light several of its steady contributors in recent seasons.
At 16-19, the Clippers are just a game and a half behind the first place Toledo Mud Hens and a game in back of the second place Indianapolis Indians in the International League’s West Division, despite a shaky start. They have played the second-fewest home games in the IL this season, with just a dozen contests at Huntington Park this season, but that could be a good thing as they have gone 3-9 when playing hosts.
The Cleveland bats, led by a pair of homers and four hits in total from Jason Kipnis, backed a quality start from Trevor Bauer as the Indians again avoided a four-game losing streak with an 8-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in the series finale from Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon.
Dealing with a tough left-hander on the mound in Hector Santiago, the Indians ignored their up-and-down season against southpaws in chasing the veteran starter from the mound early with a nice and needed display of offense with a shuffled lineup.
The Indians gave Bauer early support with a first inning run. Hitting leadoff for the first time this season and facing a pitcher who he owned a .346 average against with a homer and four RBI, the left-handed hitting second baseman Kipnis sent his first homer of the season into the seats in right to put the Indians on the board.
A left wrist injury has landed Cleveland Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer on the 7-day disabled list as the club made several roster moves on Sunday morning.
The Indians also designated utility man Michael Martinez for assignment in the roster shakeup. Cleveland brought up a pair of utility men from the minors as it recalled Erik Gonzalez from Columbus and purchased the contract of the Clippers’ Daniel Robertson to fill Martinez’s vacated spot on the 25- and 40-man rosters.
Guyer aggravated a lingering wrist issue with a swing on Friday and underwent an MRI on Sunday morning. He will see specialist Dr. Thomas Graham to review the results.
Making his second career Major League appearance, Cleveland reliever Paul Shuey becomes just the tenth pitcher in American League history to strike out four batters in one inning, doing so against the Detroit Tigers in a 9-3 Indians victory.