Posts By Bob Toth
It is amazing how three games can change the entire outlook on a season. The Cleveland Indians look to ride the momentum of a huge three-game sweep as they head east to Baltimore for four games with the Orioles beginning …
The Cleveland Indians began arguably their most challenging stretch of games of the season over the weekend and responded in humiliating fashion. Demolished and demeaned by the Oakland Athletics, the Indians will now host the Detroit Tigers, the team with the best road and overall records in all of baseball.
Cleveland (19-25) was outscored 30-6 in their three games against the American League West leading A’s to fall ten and a half games in back of Detroit. Oakland trounced the Tribe 11-1 on Friday courtesy of an eight-run second inning. The Indians could not benefit from the early ejection of the Athletics’ Scott Kazmir, losing a 6-2 final on Saturday night. Justin Masterson was shelled for seven runs on Sunday in a 13-3 Cleveland loss.
The Cleveland Indians wasted little time on Friday afternoon to announce that starter Trevor Bauer was selected to replace struggling pitcher Danny Salazar in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future.
The move comes as little surprise as Salazar has racked up high pitch counts while showing an inability to consistently throw several of his pitches for strikes. His problems have had a trickle down effect on the entire team, as his poor starts have led to losses in five of the eight games he has appeared in and have forced the bullpen to eat up extra innings while putting the offense in a position to press to make up for early numbers on the scoreboard.
Bauer, meanwhile, has earned the chance with a strong start to his season at Triple-A Columbus.
After an abysmal 0-6 West Coast trip the last time the Cleveland Indians hit the road, their just completed 3-3 trip through Tampa and Toronto looks a whole lot better. Back in the United States, they have returned home to begin a difficult six-game homestand against two of the top teams in baseball. It all begins Friday night with three games against the Oakland Athletics.
The Indians (19-22) dropped two of three to the Blue Jays this week. Tuesday night they fell 5-4, as Toronto put a three-spot on the board in the sixth that was too much to overcome. The bats awoke on Wednesday night, as Cleveland clubbed 22 hits and 15 runs in a 15-4 victory. The long ball tripped up the Tribe on Thursday, as they lost a 4-2 decision to lose the series.
Three consecutive series wins have the Cleveland Indians rolling in the month of May. They will look to continue their better play of late on the field as they open a three-game series at the Rogers Centre against the Toronto Blue Jays. It will be their final three games against the Jays this season.
The Indians (18-20) took two of three from the Rays over the weekend and have now won their last three series over Minnesota, Chicago, and Tampa after a dreadful winless West Coast trip to end April. Friday night, they rode a strong start from Corey Kluber and three home runs to a 6-3 victory. The Indians dropped a 7-1 decision on Saturday night, befuddled by the pitching of Tampa’s Erik Bedard. Cleveland held on for a 6-5 win on Sunday, despite three late inning runs from the Rays to make it a close contest.
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona has been extremely patient with the slew of slumping players filling his roster this season.
Quiet bats have remained at or near their spots in the lineup. Nick Swisher has stayed at the top of the batting order in the two and three spots, despite hitting .203 on the season. Carlos Santana is marred in another lengthy hitting slump after briefly breaking out of a 3-for-59 skid, all while remaining firmly planted in the cleanup spot. Few on the offensive side of the ball have been exempt from slumps in the early season.
The pitching staff has not been granted quite the same luxury and, on Saturday, Francona made his second significant pitching change of the season when he announced that reliever John Axford had been taken out of his closer’s role.
The position will be filled in the immediate by the dreaded “closer by committee”.
The Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in a far different situation than their last encounter in October of 2013.
The Indians (16-19) will head to Tampa to do battle with the Rays for the first time since their American League Wild Card round loss at home to end their season last year. After struggling throughout the first month of the season, they have now won five of their last seven, thanks to a series win this week against Minnesota, and have pulled themselves out of the cellar of the American League Central.
Cleveland dropped Monday’s series opener, 1-0, in ten innings courtesy of an Eduardo Escobar home run off of John Axford. They rebounded and rode Josh Tomlin’s first start since July 27, 2012, to a 4-2 victory on Tuesday night. A walk-off single by Mike Aviles with two outs in the ninth inning gave the Indians a 4-3 win on Wednesday night. A rare scoring outburst and multi-hit games from four different players in the lineup paced the Tribe to a 9-4 victory in Thursday afternoon’s finale.
A ninth inning rally broke a three all tie in walk-off fashion on Wednesday night, as Mike Aviles drove home Asdrubal Cabrera with the winning run with two outs and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins, 4-3.
The slumping Cabrera exposed Monday’s hero, Eduardo Escobar, playing out of position in left field for an injury-riddled lineup for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. A leadoff double over Escobar’s head off of reliever Casey Fien (3-1) by Cabrera set up the scoring opportunity for Cleveland. A sacrifice bunt by Lonnie Chisenhall moved Cabrera up to third. A grounder up the middle by Yan Gomes put a second out on the board, but Aviles delivered a line drive to center with the walk-off winner.
It was the first walk-off victory for the Indians this season.
The Cleveland Indians and Progressive Field will play host for the second time this season to the second place Minnesota Twins this week in a four game set.
Cleveland (13-18) ended its six game losing streak by taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox over the weekend and coming within two outs of the three game sweep. The Indians bats woke up on Friday, plating 12 runs in a 12-5 victory. Justin Masterson was sharp again while pacing Cleveland to a 2-0 victory on Saturday night. A three-run home run by Dayan Viciedo off of closer John Axford with one out in the ninth on Sunday spoiled a record-breaking outing by Corey Kluber, as the Tribe fell 4-3.
Any time you lose a former All-Star from your lineup, the roster takes a hit almost impossible to recover from.
The injury to Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, an All-Star last season in his second full season in the Major Leagues, will leave a void in the Tribe’s lineup, even though his .234 average may appear as though it would be easy to replace.
Kipnis has historically been a slow starter in the Majors, spending more than half of the month of April 2012 batting below .200 and not reaching the .200 mark in 2013 until the final day of the month. The pop in his bat (four home runs and 12 RBI this season), his ability to disrupt the game on the base paths (including four stolen bases in five attempts), and his effort in the field, where he is more known as an all-out player, once earning the moniker “Dirtbag” from former manager Manny Acta, are harder to replace.
Enter 21-year-old Jose Ramirez.
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.