2017: This Year is Next Year
In need of a big offensive performance on Sunday after scoring just one run in the first two games of their series against the Minnesota Twins over the weekend, manager Terry Francona shuffled some pieces in his lineup and the team responded with eight big runs as the Tribe avoided a sweep and their first four-game losing skid since July of 2015.
The Indians (19-17) will look to use the momentum gained by the big victory in their finale with the Twins to put up a more consistent effort at the plate. In the middle of the pack offensively in the American League, they are averaging 4.22 runs per game this season after their recent slide at the plate. They have been supported by a pitching staff with the fourth-best ERA (3.75) in the league overall, but the worst ERA by a starting staff at 4.73. The bullpen, a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities, has picked up the starting five with a 1.84 ERA and has allowed an MLB-low four home runs. The Indians enter one game in back of first place Minnesota, which has a two-game edge in the loss column, and will look to get their record back over the .500 mark at home, where they are currently 7-8.
The Cleveland bats, led by a pair of homers and four hits in total from Jason Kipnis, backed a quality start from Trevor Bauer as the Indians again avoided a four-game losing streak with an 8-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in the series finale from Progressive Field on Sunday afternoon.
Dealing with a tough left-hander on the mound in Hector Santiago, the Indians ignored their up-and-down season against southpaws in chasing the veteran starter from the mound early with a nice and needed display of offense with a shuffled lineup.
The Indians gave Bauer early support with a first inning run. Hitting leadoff for the first time this season and facing a pitcher who he owned a .346 average against with a homer and four RBI, the left-handed hitting second baseman Kipnis sent his first homer of the season into the seats in right to put the Indians on the board.
A left wrist injury has landed Cleveland Indians outfielder Brandon Guyer on the 7-day disabled list as the club made several roster moves on Sunday morning.
The Indians also designated utility man Michael Martinez for assignment in the roster shakeup. Cleveland brought up a pair of utility men from the minors as it recalled Erik Gonzalez from Columbus and purchased the contract of the Clippers’ Daniel Robertson to fill Martinez’s vacated spot on the 25- and 40-man rosters.
Guyer aggravated a lingering wrist issue with a swing on Friday and underwent an MRI on Sunday morning. He will see specialist Dr. Thomas Graham to review the results.
What was supposed to be a major strength for the Cleveland Indians this season has so far been a bit of a weakness through the first six weeks of this season. That weak spot has been a starting pitching rotation that many hailed as being among the league’s best before a single meaningful pitch was thrown in 2017.
The only one of the starting five who has met or exceeded expectations thus far is Carlos Carrasco, who has been dominant. That has been needed as ace Corey Kluber has struggled with back problems and is currently on the disabled list. The other three starters in the rotation have simply failed to live up to what the back of their baseball cards say they can be.
The Cleveland Indians offense was once again nowhere to be found and the Minnesota Twins ran to an easy 4-1 victory on Saturday afternoon from Progressive Field.
The game came down to another bout of wildness from second-year starter Mike Clevinger, making his second start of the season in place of the injured Corey Kluber, who remained sidelined on the 10-day disabled list with back issues. Making the start against another second year right-hander in Minnesota’s Jose Berrios, Clevinger’s walk issues came back to haunt him in the fourth inning and he finally paid dearly for the control problems.
For baseball fans who like offense, Friday night’s game at Progressive Field between the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins was not for you. For those fans who like the old fashion pitchers’ duel, you may have enjoyed the event, unless you are a Cleveland fan, as a first inning solo home run proved to be too much to overcome for the slumping Indians offense as Ervin Santana and the Twins shut out the Tribe, 1-0, on a combined three-hitter.
Josh Tomlin (2-4, 5.87 ERA) looked sharp again on the mound for the Indians on Friday, but was the tough luck loser as one pitch to Miguel Sano just three batters into the game would turn out to be the difference. Santana (6-1, 1.50) worked around traffic on the bases throughout the night, but kept a goose egg in the most important column on the scoreboard for him – Indians runs.
The Indians (18-16) have now dropped six of their last ten and once again failed to open a home series with a win. They have done so just once this season, when they won the home opener against the Chicago White Sox before losing the next two in the series. The Twins (18-14) sit atop the AL Central all by their lonesome with a full game lead over the Indians. They have won ten of their last 14 and have homered in 13 straight during that stretch.
The last road trip for the Cleveland Indians did not go quite as planned, so the team may be welcoming a brief stay at Progressive Field over the next six days as the club hosts the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays.
It will be a big weekend for the Indians (18-15) if they hope to put a little distance between themselves and the Twins (17-14), who are off to a strong start to their season after a disappointing 59-103 showing a year ago.
While the Indians are coming off of a frustrating 4-5 road set through Detroit, Kansas City, and Toronto while the offense struggled to get going until the final days of the trip, the Twins have figured it out at the plate. Since a disasterous mid-April homestand, one that included a three-game sweep by the Indians, the Twins have won four of their last five series overall. They took two from the Chicago White Sox during the week, winning 7-2 on Tuesday and 7-6 on Thursday around a rainout in the middle game of the set.
Yandy Diaz got the phone call from the Cleveland Indians a little earlier than some might have expected when he was recalled earlier in the week to help the team replace Michael Brantley in the lineup for at least a few days on the turf in Toronto while he recouped from a sprained right ankle. An impressive hitting display by Diaz after his demotion to Triple-A Columbus on April 21 certainly merited that quick second look at the hot-hitting utility man by the Tribe.
The bat has normally not been the problem for Diaz during his professional career, but an inconsistent start with the stick and lingering questions about his ability to play an adequate defense at the Major League level left him in need of regular playing time somewhere, and such an opportunity did not exist with the Indians a few weeks into the regular season schedule.
Starting pitchers from Cleveland and Toronto were each knocked out in the third inning but the Blue Jays pecked away gradually against the Indians bullpen, delivering the final blow with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on a bases loaded single to right to walk off with an 8-7 victory to claim the win and the series on Wednesday night from Rogers Centre.
The disappointing results for the Indians sent them home to Cleveland with an 18-15 record on the season. Their weather-shortened ten-game road trip through Detroit, Kansas City, and Toronto ended with a 4-5 record as a newly revived offense could not outslug the Jays.
After evening the score at 7-7 in the bottom of the fourth, the early offensive outbursts from both clubs came to a halt until the ninth as the Indians brought on Cody Allen to try to send the game to extra innings. Instead, it was another shaky outing from the Tribe closer in May and this time, he could not survive the high wire act as the Jays pulled out the win.
Carlos Carrasco gave the Indians seven scoreless innings and his offense awoke from its road trip slumber with six big runs as Cleveland defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-0, in a four-hit shutout on Tuesday night.
The Indians improved to 18-14 with the win. They have a Major League best record of 16-3 when scoring three runs or more and topped the threshold for the first time in the month of May. The last time the offense exceeded three runs was on April 30 against Seattle, the final game of their last homestand before hitting the road for a three-city, ten-game trip.
Cleveland’s offensive woes on its three-city road trip continued in its last stop before returning home as Toronto put up four early runs off of Trevor Bauer and Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays bullpen made it stand in a 4-2 victory over the Indians on Monday night.
The game marked the return of Edwin Encarnacion to his home of eight years and the Indians slugger received several appreciative ovations from the Rogers Centre crowd during the ball game. While he had a big game in his old digs, the rest of his teammates could not get the big hits to put runs on the board against Stroman, who kept the ball down and got three big double plays to aid his cause on the mound.
After meeting in the American League Championship Series last October, this week’s meeting between the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians should have been an exciting series to have circled on the calendar.
That is, until the Blue Jays (11-20) came out of the gate slow and have yet to pick it up five weeks into the season. Toronto has struggled in all facets of the game, scoring the second-fewest runs in the American League while allowing 23 more runs than it has scored. They may welcome a look outside of the AL East Division, as nearly two-thirds of the Blue Jays’ games this season have come against their rivals. They have yet to face a team from the AL Central and will do so for the first time at Rogers Centre, where they are just 4-8 on the season.