2017: Game Recaps
There was good news and bad news on Monday night as the Cleveland Indians made their long-awaited return home to Progressive Field after an eleven-game road trip and won in an exciting 5-4 finish on a sacrifice bunt turned walk-off error.
The start of a key four-game series between the leaders of the American League East and American League Central Divisions had all of the excitement that the playoff preview was expected to have. The Red Sox built an early lead, lost that lead, got it back with the aid of replay review in the middle innings, then lost that lead and the ball game in the final two innings, ultimately on a walk-off throwing error in the bottom of the ninth. The Indians, while losing their early 3-2 lead but gaining a needed win on the team above them in the AL playoff picture, also lost slugger Carlos Santana and reliever Andrew Miller to injuries.
The Kansas City Royals got to Danny Salazar for a career-worst 12 hits as the Cleveland Indians dropped the final game of their four-city, 11-game road trip, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon.
It was not the usual suspects in the Royals lineup who provided the bulk of the damage but instead, the bottom portion of the starting nine as Kansas City put up 15 hits in total and ended a long scoreless streak at the plate. Salazar struggled with his command, despite walking just one, but he allowed the dozen hits and a half-dozen runs in just four and two-thirds innings.
The Indians got six and one-third innings of scoreless baseball from Trevor Bauer and the bullpen tandem of Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen retired the final eight outs without a hit as Cleveland blanked the Kansas City Royals, 5-0, on Saturday night.
Bauer got a little help from his friends, who provided some early runs and some good work in the field behind him as the Tribe starter won his 12th game of the season, joining Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco to form the Majors’ only pitching staff with three different dozen-game winners. Bauer has now won each of his last five decisions, the longest streak of his career, and has not taken a loss in over a month.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona tried to loosen up the Indians clubhouse a little bit heading into a key weekend series in Kansas City with the Royals. The results appeared evident on the field, as the Indians routed the Royals by a 10-1 final, but had a scare in the sixth inning when starting pitcher Corey Kluber had to exit the ball game early with an injury.
In a game that had plenty of positives to draw upon, Indians’ players, brass, and fans were all collectively holding their breath in the sixth when Kluber broke from the mound and appeared hobbled as he attempted to cover first base on an infield single. He was able to talk his way back onto the mound in what was then a 6-1 contest and pitched to another batter, but after the base hit, Francona and the team trainer were back out to the mound to escort Kluber from the game.
It was announced late in the game that Kluber left with a right ankle sprain.
A battle of minor league starters went in favor of the Twins on Thursday night, as Minnesota and rookie Aaron Slegers avoided a sweep with a 4-2 win in game two of the day’s doubleheader.
The 6’10” right-hander Slegers got the call for the Twins as the club’s 26th man for the second game of the day’s double dip and stood tall, both in effort and in stature, in his Major League debut at Target Field. He carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning and after Max Kepler‘s lost footing cost the Twins the lead, the outfielder put Minnesota back on top for good with an eighth inning blast off of Mike Clevinger.
Home field advantage has not applied to Target Field for the Minnesota Twins when facing the Cleveland Indians this season. The Tribe improved to 9-0 in Minneapolis this season behind a 9-3 victory in game one of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.
The game was a bit closer than the final score indicated, as the Indians tacked on six runs in the final two frames to blow open the contest. Carlos Carrasco worked around some early difficulties and five relievers had to combine to close out the game, temporarily making things close in the bottom of the seventh before the bats came to the rescue.
The Indians’ final series of the season in Minneapolis hit a bit of a snag on Wednesday night as rains washed away the game between Cleveland and the Minnesota Twins after a brief 35-minute delay.
The two clubs will meet again on Thursday, when they will attempt to play a day-night doubleheader.
The Indians hit their targets repeatedly at Target Field on Tuesday night as five home runs provided plenty of support for starter Danny Salazar in an 8-1 Home Run Derby rout of the Minnesota Twins.
In arguably its biggest road trip and most important series to date this season, Cleveland continued its dominance off of the shores of the Mississippi River as the Tribe bats were alive and well, guiding the Indians to a fifth straight victory in game number six of an eleven-game road trip. The demoralizing way in which they defeated the Twins in the series opener involved an effective balance of power hitting and power pitching as the Indians extended their lead in the American League Central Division to six games over the second place Twins.
The Indians have made Target Field their home away from home in 2017, as the club is now a perfect 8-0 in Minnesota this season.
Trevor Bauer struggled some in the early innings to maintain a big lead, but Edwin Encarnacion made sure the Tribe’s right-hander had some extra room to maneuver through the Boston lineup, hitting a pair of two-run homers to power the Cleveland Indians past the Red Sox, 7-3, in Monday’s makeup game.
A long and winding road trip for the Indians across the right half of the continental United States is off to a good start for the Indians (64-52), who won a fourth straight game on their four-city, eleven-game road trip after taking the final three of a four-game set in Tampa Bay over the weekend. Coming to Boston, where the club was massacred earlier in the month, the Indians put that tough loss behind them and fought back after once again coughing up a big lead at Fenway Park to the Red Sox.
It was not Kluber’s best start of the season, but he did what an ace was supposed to do, keeping his club in the game long enough to find a way to win.
For a lot of Major League players, they seem to get amped up and find a way to pay back teams who may have given up on them or traded them away. For former Tribe farmhand Chris Archer, that has not been the case as he took a seventh straight loss in as many starts against Cleveland as he was outpitched by right-hander Mike Clevinger in a 3-0 Indians win on Saturday night.
Archer has yet to find the magic potion for stopping the Indians. The team that drafted and developed him, before shipping him off in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in December of 2008 for Mark DeRosa, knocked off the two-time All-Star right-hander for the second time this season and the seventh time in his career. The Indians remain the only team in the American League that he has not defeated in his six-year big league career.
Just over two years ago, Carlos Carrasco came within an out of throwing the first no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians since 1981 in his victory in St. Petersburg over the Tampa Bay Rays. On Friday night, he flirted with a no-no again as he came seven outs from history, ultimately settling for a combined three-hitter over those same Rays, 5-0.
Backed by a big fifth inning by his teammates against rookie right-hander Jacob Faria, Carrasco contained the Rays in his home away from home, as the Florida resident and road warrior allowed just two hits and two walks in eight scoreless innings to earn his eleventh win of the season, a team-high. He needed just 106 pitches to clear those eight innings, striking out ten and getting 22 swings and misses over the course of the night.