2017: This Year is Next Year
Mike Clevinger capitalized on an opportunity to help out the Indians on Sunday, firing five and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball and the Cleveland bullpen did the rest to pick up a sluggish offense in a combined 1-0 one-hit victory.
The Indians came away with a series win to even up their record during their current road trip at 3-3 and to improve their season record to 17-13. They sit atop the American League Central alone at the 30-game mark and now lead the last place Royals (10-20) by seven games.
The two teams wore throwback jerseys honoring Negro League teams from their respective cities, with the Royals representing the Monarchs and the Indians representing the Buckeyes. The uniforms worn in the game were scheduled to be auctioned off to help raise funds for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a privately funded non-profit museum in Kansas City “dedicated to preserving the rich history of African-American Baseball”.
When Mike Clevinger made his debut last May against the Cincinnati Reds, it was unknown what kind of chance he would get to stick around the Majors with the Indians. As it turns out, the 2016 rookie was in the big leagues for much more than just a cup of coffee.
As injuries persisted in the starting rotation and ineffectiveness plagued more-established relievers, Clevinger had ample opportunity to show the Tribe what he could do. He became a valuable pitching commodity in his ability and willingness to work back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen. He started ten games and relieved seven for the Tribe. In the ten starts, Clevinger was up and down in going 1-3 with a 5.93 ERA in 41 innings pitched. In a more-controlled relief pitching climate, he was 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 frames.
Clevinger’s starting numbers may have been hurt by having to make four late-season starts when his arm was not stretched out to do so. The Tribe had made him a full-time reliever mid-season. Then disaster struck the rotation in September as Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar both got hurt. Cleveland needed somebody to try and eat up starters innings as best they could at that point.
Cleveland used three runs in the final two frames to come from behind and defeat the Kansas City Royals on Saturday afternoon in a 3-1 final.
Josh Tomlin made his best start of the season and allowed just one run to the Royals, but heading into the late innings, it looked possible that the slumbering Indians lineup was not going to be able to defeat left-hander Jason Vargas, who has been pitching at an incredibly high level to start the season, and the Kansas City bullpen. The comeback victory for the Tribe (16-13) served as an important reminder of why games aren’t over until the 27th out, give or take some extenuating circumstances.
Cleveland reliever Cody Allen has not received the credit due to him for his strong work in the closer’s role for the Indians over the last several seasons. He finally got some recognition this week when he was named the American League’s Reliever of the Month for his performance in the month of April to open the 2017 schedule.
Allen anchored one of the best bullpens in baseball through the first month of the season. His work in the ninth inning helped the Indians to be the only Major League team to convert every save opportunity in the month.
Three runs in the middle innings chased Danny Salazar early and the Cleveland offense was held in check by Jason Hammel and the Kansas City bullpen as the Royals defeated the Indians 3-1 in the series opener from Kauffman Stadium on Friday night.
Pitch count problems for the Indians right-hander Salazar led to an early exit and his offense could not pick him up, despite scoring the first run of the night in the fourth inning. Hammel, who had not earned a win in nine attempts against Cleveland in his career, held the club to just three hits in a quality start to earn his first win as a member of the Royals.
With a little bit of rain interference, Cleveland’s chances of avoiding its first losing series in two weeks was spoiled as rain parked itself over the Great Lakes region for much of the day on Thursday. It made for a good reason to relocate as the Indians packed up and headed to Missouri to take on a scuffling Kansas City Royals squad in three games this weekend.
The Indians (15-12) enter the weekend leading the American League Central Division once again, tied with the 15-12 Chicago White Sox. The crowding at the top of the division is evident as just one game separates the Tribe from fourth place Detroit (14-13) after the club dropped two of three to start their three-city road trip to kick off May.
Mother Nature prevailed again as the Cleveland Indians suffered their second rain out of the season on Thursday when the fourth and final game of their series in Detroit with the Tigers was washed away.
Rain was in the forecast all day long in Detroit, leading to the early cancellation of the scheduled 1:10 PM ET game. No makeup date has been announced for the game.
April is now several days in the rear view mirror. Much further away is the Cleveland Indians’ magical run through the postseason and into their sixth World Series appearance in franchise history.
While the excitement, pomp, and circumstance led to high hopes last year and lofty expectations for this one, the first month of the 2017 Major League Baseball season reminded Tribe fans that this season is certainly not last season.
And that’s okay.
Cleveland coupled a three-run fourth inning with six innings from a sick Carlos Carrasco and strong, if not a little shaky at the end, bullpen work as the Indians held off the Detroit Tigers, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
The Indians were staring down another left-hander starter in Matt Boyd, who had already defeated the Tribe back in April at Progressive Field. While Boyd was good, so too was the ill Carrasco, who had dealt with a sickness and an accompanying fever throughout the day but was able to give the Indians six innings of two-run baseball. A big inning from the Cleveland bats in the fourth would provide all of the scoring on the night for the club and Carrasco, Andrew Miller, and Cody Allen would make it stand when the final out was retired.
Concerns about Corey Kluber‘s three-inning effort on Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers were confirmed on Wednesday as the Cleveland Indians announced that the right-handed pitcher had been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain.
In a corresponding roster move, right-handed reliever Joseph Colon has been recalled from Triple-A Columbus.
In what had the potential to be an exciting rematch of former Cy Young pitchers, the game was decided early as the Tigers scored in each of the first three innings against the Tribe ace, while the Indians could do little to put up runs against Verlander after pummeling him for nine runs on eleven hits over four innings when they last saw him in April.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Tuesday afternoon that outfielder Austin Jackson had been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left great toe hyperextension. Reliever Shawn Armstrong was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to fill his spot on the 25-man roster.
Jackson was hurt in Monday night’s 7-1 loss in Detroit in the ninth inning. On a slow roller in the infield, Jackson hustled down the line and landed awkwardly on first base and was removed from the game for pinch-runner Abraham Almonte.