Posts By Bob Toth
Cleveland Indians starting catcher Yan Gomes looks as though he has settled in behind the plate, which was not quite the case through the early portion of this season. Players around the league are getting a harsh reminder:
You don’t run on Yan.
The Indians signed the relatively unknown Gomes to a six-year, $23 million contract extension just prior to the season in a deal that would keep the catcher in Cleveland through 2021 if club options were picked up. The deal seemed a surprise at the time for a player who had yet to even make a Major League roster to start a season and came on the heels of the five-year pact the club tendered to outfielder Michael Brantley. The long-term extension was questioned by some with the small sample size of games logged by Gomes and criticized even more by some when Gomes struggled behind the plate within a week of the season’s start.
Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin was tremendous on the mound, facing just one batter over the minimum in limiting Seattle to one hit as the Indians defeated the Mariners by a 5-0 final on Saturday night.
Tomlin (5-5) gave the Indians all that they could ask for on the mound. He struck out eleven batters in his complete game shutout, establishing a personal single-game high, and allowed just one fifth inning base runner on the night. It was the first complete game by Tomlin since September 24th, 2010, in his eleventh career start, and just the second of his career. It was the first complete game shutout in his career.
The offense rewarded Tomlin’s outing with five runs of offense, which usually equates to wins for the Tribe. The Indians are now 27-5 when scoring five runs or more this season.
The Cleveland Indians began their eight-game West Coast trip by earning a road split in Arizona while trying to fight their way back to the .500 mark. They will continue the battle against the Seattle Mariners, who are right in the mix in the AL Wild Card picture, in a three-game set this weekend.
Cleveland (38-40) split their two-game series in Arizona earlier in the week. After a 14-inning marathon, the Diamondbacks were victorious on Tuesday in the early hours of the morning in a 9-8 win as the two teams combined to use 45 of the 50 players available in the game. The Indians bounced back to win a 6-1 decision on Wednesday, as Corey Kluber provided the Tribe with seven strong and scoreless innings on the mound with eight strikeouts for his seventh win of the campaign.
While the Cleveland Indians have played well at home this season (with the exception of this past weekend against the Detroit Tigers), the Arizona Diamondbacks have done the opposite in their friendly confines, posting a 14-29 home record (.326 winning percentage). Something will have to give starting Tuesday, as the Indians will put their road woes to the test (.368 road winning percentage) as they take on the Diamondbacks in a brief two-game set.
The Indians (37-39) stumbled at Progressive Field, dropping three straight to the Tigers, who are starting to heat up again. Cleveland lost a 6-4 ball game on Friday night, fighting back after a 5-0 deficit to fall just short. The Tigers won in extra innings on Saturday night, 5-4, after Joe Nathan blew a save in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out RBI-single by Michael Bourn. Josh Tomlin and the Indians’ defense fell apart in the fifth inning on Sunday, as the Tigers tabled seven runs on the way to a 10-4 blowout to claim the series sweep.
It is a given that at least one Indians player will be selected to represent Cleveland on the American League All-Star team. They do have a few worthy candidates this season.
This year’s Midsummer Classic will be played on Tuesday, July 15, from Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The AL squad will look to win its second consecutive contest after ending a three-game losing skid last season. First time All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis was instrumental in the victory, as he padded the AL lead in the eighth inning with a ground-rule RBI double to left off of Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel. Starting pitcher Justin Masterson, also a first timer on the team, was not among the ten pitchers to pitch for Jim Leyland in the exhibition.
Barring an almost improbable set of circumstances, neither Kipnis nor Masterson will represent the Indians this season. But there are three whose play on the field should get them at least some consideration.
The Cleveland Indians will look to build upon a Major League-best home record of 23-12 as they welcome the division rival Detroit Tigers to Progressive Field for a three-game weekend set.
The Indians (37-36) took two out of three in what was originally scheduled to be a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels during the week. Cleveland won Monday’s opener, 4-3, as homers by Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana and an RBI-single from Michael Brantley capped the scoring. Los Angeles earned a decisive 9-3 win on Tuesday night as the Angels combined to hit four home runs, including two by Mike Trout. After rains interfered with Wednesday’s matchup, the Indians walked off a winner on Thursday after allowing a pair of runs in the top of the tenth. Nick Swisher delivered the game-winning walk-off grand slam for the 5-3 win.
Cleveland is third in the AL Central, two and a half games out of first and two games in back in the AL Wild Card picture.
The last time that Cleveland and Los Angeles met up, the Angels were none too kind to the Indians on the West Coast. The Indians hope to return the favor as the Angels head to Cleveland this week for a four-game set at Progressive Field.
Cleveland (35-35) has been dynamite at home this season, helping to keep the team at the .500 mark while its frequently discussed problems on the road are addressed. They concluded a ten-game road trip through Texas, Kansas City, and Boston with a 5-5 record, nothing stellar, but a marked improvement from their road efforts heading into the trip.
The Indians dropped each of the first two games of the set in Fenway. They lost 5-2 on Thursday as the team could not find a way to score runs. They were shelled 10-3 on Friday, as Justin Masterson did not have it on the mound and was tagged for five runs in two-plus innings of work. The Tribe squeezed by with a 3-2 win on Saturday, ending their four-game losing streak, thanks to a pair of runs in the seventh inning highlighted by a bases loaded go-ahead walk by Carlos Santana. They won by the same score on Sunday, as a Nick Swisher solo home run in the top of the eleventh was the difference on the afternoon.
Maybe, just maybe, the bat of Cleveland Indians man-without-a-position Carlos Santana is finally heating up.
It is tough to guess the exact culprit for the struggles of the once-reliable slugger at the plate this season, but since his return from the seven-day concussion disabled list at the beginning of June, his bat has been a bit livelier. Given his numbers over the first two months of the season, it would not have taken much at all to show an improvement over the .159 batting average and .301 slugging percentage he provided the club in his first 51 games.
Santana was getting a lot of work, missing just one game in the third week of April before the blow to the head that sent him to the DL.
Justin Masterson’s walk on the wild side was far too much for the Cleveland Indians to overcome on Friday night as they dropped their fourth straight game of their road trip, this one a 10-3 final in Boston to the Red Sox.
Masterson, the same pitcher who threw 25 straight strikes in a game recently, just simply could not find the strike zone. He threw first pitch balls to eleven of the 12 batters he faced and only three times was able to get ahead in the count either 0-1 or 1-2. He was charged with five runs, all earned, in just two innings. He allowed three hits, four walks, and did not strike out a batter. He threw 59 pitches, just 28 of which were for strikes, which established a new career low number of pitches in a game that he left without an injury.
On a rainy and foggy day in Boston, the Red Sox set a season-high with ten runs scored Friday.
Every time that it appears the Cleveland Indians figure out how to win on the road, they turn around and forget again. They will need to remember in a hurry, as there is no rest for the club as it continues its lengthy road trip with a four-game stop in Boston at Fenway Park starting Thursday night.
The Indians (33-33) had climbed right back into the thick of the American League Central Division race with strong play of late. Struggling mightily on the road this season (12-22), they dropped a pair in Kansas City after taking three of four from the Texas Rangers to move to 3-3 on their ten-game road trip. In their short set with the Royals, they lost on Tuesday in a rare offensive explosion from Kansas City, 9-5, and fell 4-1 on Wednesday afternoon after the Royals scored on four sacrifice flies.
Despite the unsuccessful series against the Royals, they remain just two and a half games in back of the Detroit Tigers, who have dropped three in a row of their own.
Faced with a potentially dangerous ten-game road trip and armed with a devastatingly underwhelming road record on the season, the Cleveland Indians quelled some of the doubters as they claimed their third consecutive series win over the weekend. The show goes on with a quick trip through Kansas City on Tuesday and Wednesday as they look to rough up the Royals.
The Indians (33-31) started out their road trip about as good as could be expected, especially given their woes on the road this season. They dropped Friday’s opener 6-4 as the usually strong bullpen allowed a pair of late inning runs, ending the club’s six-game winning streak. Cleveland then ripped off three straight wins, beginning with eight-plus innings from Josh Tomlin in an 8-3 win on Saturday. On Sunday, they squeezed by with a 3-2 victory behind a good start from Justin Masterson. The offense erupted on Monday night, capped by the three homer, five hit, nine RBI performance for the ages from Lonnie Chisenhall in a 17-7 win.
The win, coupled with a loss from first place Detroit, pulled the Indians within two games of the front running Tigers for the division lead. The American League Central Division is the tightest of the six divisional races in all of baseball, as only five games separate the last place Minnesota Twins from the top of the pack.
With the 2014 Major League Baseball amateur draft concluding this past week, the lives of hundreds of young high school and collegiate athletes have forever changed. Their dreams of playing professional baseball are one step closer to being fulfilled.
Being drafted in itself is an immense accomplishment. By no means, however, is it a ticket to the Big Show. Hard work, practice, perseverance, blood, sweat, tears, pain, injury, and absences from family and friends are only the beginning of the grind, and still in no way guarantee fulfilling the lifelong dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player. Too often, the end results are questions of “what if” and “what could have been”.
Just ask former Cleveland Indians’ first round draft pick Corey Smith.