2017: Game Recaps
Last weekend, the Kansas City Royals missed out on a big opportunity to get back into the American League Central race by dropping two of three to the first place Cleveland Indians. With another opportunity this weekend, the Royals offense has gone missing as Mike Clevinger and three relievers combined on the Indians’ second straight shutout of their division rival, 4-0.
The back-to-back shutouts to open the series with Kansas City gives Cleveland five shutouts of the Royals this season and a Major League leading 14 shutouts this season.
The circumstances were not too much for Merritt, who was certainly not shaking in his boots on Friday, as he gave the Indians a career-high six and two-thirds scoreless innings on the mound as Cleveland defeated Kansas City behind a 4-0 shutout.
Merritt had big shoes to fill but did the job admirably in front of a packed house at Progressive Field, holding a veteran Royals lineup to seven scattered hits. Three other relievers followed him to the mound and completed the eight-hit shutout as the Indians (71-56) kept a five and a half game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins while pushing the Royals (64-63) another game back in the standings, where they now trail the Tribe by seven games.
If Corey Kluber wins the American League Cy Young award this season for a second time in his career, he may have his teammates to thank. For the second time this month, the Indians pounded Boston southpaw and assumed leader in the race for the top pitching award, Chris Sale, for seven runs and dealt him the shortest start of his career on Thursday night as Cleveland routed the Boston Red Sox, 13-6.
When Cleveland visited Boston earlier in the month, Sale was hit hard early for seven runs on eight hits by the Indians in a start that lasted just five innings. Sale, with a 5-7 career record in 28 appearances against the Indians, had a chance to get even, but the Tribe brought the bats in the regular season finale between the two clubs, making up some for mustering just four hits over the previous two games in a pair of defeats.
A four-run ninth inning by the Red Sox broke open a one-run game to give Boston a big victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night from Progressive Field, 6-1.
A game featuring a pair of 12-game winners in Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Boston’s Drew Pomeranz lived up to the billing as a close contest took place between the two starters. Pomeranz would get run before completing six innings, but he kept the Indians off of the scoreboard in the process. His bullpen teammates would do the same until the bottom of the eighth, but a mess of a ninth by the Tribe relief staff erased any chances of a comeback by Cleveland on this night.
Things started well for the Indians’ offense when Francisco Lindor tied the game at one all with his leadoff homer off of Doug Fister in the bottom of the first inning. Unfortunately for Cleveland, that would be the highlight of the night as the Boston starter allowed just three more base runners and no more hits on the way to a complete game one-hitter in a 9-1 Red Sox rout of the Indians on Tuesday night.
Fister, making his third start in his last four outings against the Indians, held the Tribe bats in check in throwing his first complete game since 2014. He worked quickly and efficiently and he was supported by more than enough runs from his teammates, who piled on against starter Carlos Carrasco.
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.