Posts By Bob Toth
After an unproductive and unsuccessful 0-6 West Coast trip, the Cleveland Indians and their fans sure could use a hug.
Both are hoping for more fruitful returns in May, as the Indians welcome in the Chicago White Sox for a three game series starting Friday night as the Indians look to end their season-high losing skid at six games.
The Indians (11-17) and their road woes continued as they lost three straight to the Los Angeles Angels to follow a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. The Angels broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run eighth to claim a 6-3 win in the opener. Los Angeles outlasted Cleveland 6-4 on Tuesday night. They put five runs on Zach McAllister on short rest in a 7-1 win on Wednesday.
Four late response runs in the sixth and seventh innings were too little too late for the Indians on Tuesday night, as the Los Angeles Angels defeated Cleveland by a 6-4 final.
The loss for Cleveland is its fifth straight and its longest streak of the season as the team falls four and a half games in back of division-leading Detroit. The skid is the longest active losing streak in baseball and aided the Indians’ road record falling to an American League worst, 4-10.
It was another tale of missed opportunities for the Indians on a woeful West Coast road trip. They put together ten hits and five walks off of Los Angeles pitching, but struck out ten times, grounded into a pair of double plays, left nine men on base, and hit a combined 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They wasted a 6-for-11 night with four RBI from the four, five, and six hitters, who slumped mightily in the first stop on the road trip.
Phenom Mike Trout gave the Cleveland Indians a glimpse of just how much he can singlehandedly change the course of a baseball game, as his two hits on the night were instrumental in giving the Los Angeles Angels a 6-3 comeback win on Monday night.
Los Angeles broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth off of Indians starter Justin Masterson thanks to an unearned run. J.B. Shuck reached on the first pitch of the inning, as his hit to Nick Swisher at first base was mishandled. It was the 24th error by Indians players in 26 games this season.
Erick Aybar successfully sacrificed him over to second. In an eight pitch at bat, Trout came away victorious. His single to left, his second hit of the game, scored Shuck from second base to give the Angels a 4-3 lead. Trout advanced to second on the throw to the plate, which created an intentional walk situation with Albert Pujols. Raul Ibanez made Masterson pay for the decision as his triple to the wall in right center cleared Trout and Pujols and gave the Angels a 6-3 lead.
The return of the Cleveland Indians to the West Coast for the second time in April could not have gotten off to much worse of a start as the club dropped three straight to begin a six-game road trip. They will wrap up their trip to close out the month with a three game set in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels beginning Monday night.
Cleveland (11-14) was swept right out of the Bay Area by the San Francisco Giants. They lost a 5-1 final on Friday night as Carlos Carrasco allowed four runs in six innings. A four-run fifth inning was the difference on Saturday afternoon as Zach McAllister lost his first game of the season, 5-3. The Giants earned the series sweep on Sunday with a 4-1 win, thanks to a two-out, three-run walkoff home run by Brandon Hicks off of Cody Allen in the bottom of the ninth.
With all of the turnover in the Cleveland Indians bullpen, there were plenty of questions about how the relief corps would look as the team entered the 2014 season.
The concerns were clearly elevated after losing two-fifths of the successful 2013 starting rotation in the offseason free agency period. Looming questions about the potential growth of Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister post-finger injuries, the development of young flame thrower Danny Salazar, the unknown potential of Carlos Carrasco, and Justin Masterson in a contract year all spelled the need for a strong bullpen to complement the rotation arms.
Gone were a pair of mainstays from the “Bullpen Mafia” of years’ past. Closer Chris Perez struggled through injuries and off the field concerns throughout 2013 and ultimately lost his role as the ninth inning shutdown pitcher as the team was racing towards the postseason. He was let go by the Tribe in late October. Late inning righty Joe Smith exited via free agency after a 6-2 record with three saves and a 2.29 ERA in 70 games for Cleveland, his third straight season of 70 games or more.
A hot start from outfielders Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence helped to pace the San Francisco Giants to a 5-1 win over Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland Indians on Friday night in the weekend interleague series opener.
The Giants wasted no time getting to Carrasco (0-3) in the bottom of the first. Pagan singled to right center to lead off the inning. Pence followed with a triple to deep center to score Pagan and give San Francisco a 1-0 lead. After a strikeout of Brandon Belt, the National League’s leading home run hitter, the slumping Buster Posey walked on four straight. A sacrifice fly by Michael Morse on the first pitch of his at bat to right field scored Pence to push the lead to 2-0.
The Indians struck back in the top of the third off of San Francisco’s Tim Hudson (3-1). Michael Bourn drilled a triple off of the brick wall in right field. Nick Swisher drove him in with a single to the opposite field to the gap in left center to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Cleveland Indians have picked an opportune time to start playing better baseball. Winners of four of their last five while climbing back to the .500 mark on the season, they return to the West Coast for the second time in April, beginning a three-game series Friday night in San Francisco against the Bay Area’s Giants.
Cleveland (11-11) won their four-game series against division rival Kansas City during the week, taking three games. They edged out a 4-3 win on Monday, giving Zach McAllister his third win of the season, on a sixth inning two-run home run by Jason Kipnis that proved to be the difference. James Shields bettered Danny Salazar in Tuesday’s 8-2 loss. The Indians claimed a 5-3 victory on Wednesday night, led by six and one-third strong innings from Justin Masterson and runs in each of their last three trips to the plate. A five-run fifth off of Bruce Chen and a complete game 101-pitch effort from Corey Kluber earned the Tribe a series win over the Royals on Thursday afternoon in a 5-1 final.
The American League Central Division is more up for grabs this season than any time in recent history and both the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals know it. After finishing two and three in the division behind the Detroit Tigers last season, each is hoping to stay in the thick of things early in the 2014 campaign in hopes that they can lay claim to the crown at season’s end.
Kansas City (9-8) comes to town for the first time this season for a four-game weekday series. They took two of three from the Minnesota Twins over the weekend. Jason Vargas pitched seven shutout innings and Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer on Friday as the Royals blanked the Twins, 5-0. A five-run fourth inning on Saturday propelled the Royals to a fifth straight victory, a 5-4 final. Alex Gordon had three of their ten hits on the game. A rough outing on Sunday from rookie Yordano Ventura ended their win streak as they lost 8-3.
Cleveland (8-10) dropped two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays. They lost a heartbreaker on Friday night, 3-2, after loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth, but a liner by Michael Brantley was blocked by first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, who recovered to end the game. The Indians dropped their third straight game, their second such streak this season, in a 5-0 loss at the hands of Mark Buehrle on Saturday. The Tribe recovered on Sunday to claim a 6-4 come-from-behind victory, courtesy in large part to a two-out, three-run double by David Murphy in the sixth.
The Cleveland Indians’ offense has been frustratingly inefficient this season with runners on base, especially with them in scoring position.
With a suspect starting pitching rotation struggling through the first few weeks of the season, the offense has been needed to provide valuable run support to make up for the deficits seen from each of the five regular starters to take the mound.
The problem is that the Indians offense has not been able to contribute at the level needed to compensate for some rough efforts on the rubber.
The Cleveland Indians will play host to their first American League East opponent of the season this weekend as the Toronto Blue Jays come into town for a three-game series.
Toronto (8-8) dropped two of three games against the Minnesota Twins this week. They claimed the opener, 9-3, on Tuesday as the Jays erupted for five runs in the sixth inning and tacked on four more insurance runs in the ninth. Wednesday’s game was postponed due to weather problems and made up as part of a doubleheader on Thursday. Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson paced the Twins to a 7-0 shutout in the day’s first game with eight scoreless innings on the mound. A monumental eighth inning collapse by Toronto in the second game, which included three run-scoring wild pitches, eight walks, one hit, and six runs scored, handed Minnesota the doubleheader sweep, 9-5.
Cleveland (7-8) got a second day off as their third consecutive Tuesday game was postponed by Mother Nature, shortening their three game set at Comerica Park in Detroit to a brief two-gamer. The Indians won Wednesday 3-2 behind six strong innings from Zach McAllister and two runs driven in by catcher Yan Gomes. The Tribe fell back below the .500 mark on Thursday as Justin Verlander outlasted Danny Salazar, despite short outings from each starter. Ian Kinsler and Michael Brantley each had four RBI on the afternoon. Lonnie Chisenhall was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate as he continues to make a case for his stay on the roster.
It does not seem to matter if the Cleveland Indians are at home or on the road, Mother Nature refuses to let the team play baseball on Tuesdays.
The first game in the series between the Indians and Detroit Tigers in the Motor City was cancelled due to snow and cold temperatures on Tuesday. Mercifully, a doubleheader for the third consecutive week to start the season was not in the cards and the game will be replayed at a date to be decided later on this season.
Even with the shortened series, games in mid-April rarely have the significance that the Indians matchup this week with the Tigers has. After finishing last season 4-15 against Detroit, the Indians will look to get off to a better start this season against their chief division rival. They are just 2-5 within the American League Central Division so far in 2014.
This week’s demotion of fan favorite reliever Vinnie Pestano by the Cleveland Indians was hardly a surprise after the once steady arm at the backend of the Tribe bullpen had faltered out of the gate for the second straight season.
Pestano’s issues on the mound have been thrust more and more into the limelight. This season, he appeared in three games, allowing earned runs in each appearance. In his last outing against San Diego in an 8-3 game, Pestano coughed up three runs in the ninth inning and was unable to finish the frame. At the time of his demotion, he was the only Indians reliever to allow an earned run and had given up six runs in total in two and two-thirds innings. Opposing hitters were batting .500 off of him.