2017: This Year is Next Year
A rain delay of nearly two hours could not slow down the bats of the Cleveland Indians on Sunday as they scored four runs before rain and lightning hit and added four more when play resumed to defeat the Kansas City Royals by an 8-0 final from Kauffman Stadium.
After dropping each of the first two games of their series against the Royals, the Indians were able to get the bats going and received a united effort from the bullpen after weather knocked out the day’s starter, Trevor Bauer, after just an inning and two-thirds on the mound.
No player or team ever hopes or wishes for an injury. However, it may come to be that Corey Kluber‘s recent stay on the disabled list was actually something of a blessing in disguise for the Cleveland Indians and the ace of their rotation.
The 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner was put on the shelf on May 3, a day after exiting a start against the Tigers early with a lower back strain.
Questions persisted throughout the offseason about what kind of shape Cleveland’s No. 1 starter would be in after pitching more innings in 2016 than ever before. It was not just the quantity, but the fact that he was pitching on short rest, in high-pressure situations, and carrying a beleaguered starting pitching staff in October all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
Cleveland squandered an early lead and the Kansas City offense piled on with two big innings as the Indians fell to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday afternoon, 12-5.
What started out as a favorable showing for the Tribe turned disastrous in the latter innings after the team got out to an early three-run lead against Jason Hammel (2-6), who had struggled all season against any team not named the Cleveland Indians. Carlos Carrasco held that lead for the Indians until the fifth, when things took a bad turn and the Royals never looked back.
The Cleveland Indians made a minor trade earlier in the week, picking up veteran infielder Josh Wilson for cash considerations from the Texas Rangers.
Wilson, 36, had signed with the Rangers organization midway through April and had been playing for Texas’ Triple-A Round Rock affiliate.
Kansas City’s Jason Vargas gave up seven hits, but induced four double play balls by Cleveland bats on the way to a 4-0 complete game shutout of the Indians on Friday night.
It was a night of missed opportunities for the Tribe, who got a well-pitched game from Josh Tomlin. The Indians starter kept the Royals off of the scoreboard through each of the first five innings before the KC bats struck for runs in each of its final three trips. Cleveland had hits in each of the first six innings, but four separate times saw any rally efforts squandered on double play grounders.
Things would be much different for the Cleveland Indians if they could just play the American League West all season. With a series win in four games over the Oakland Athletics during the week, the team improved to 13-3 against the westernmost division in the AL. The club departed Cleveland and headed west after its series with the A’s to take on Kansas City for three games for the second consecutive weekend of play against the Royals.
The Indians (28-24) did not start their homestand on a good note as they lost one game to rain and three straight to the Cincinnati Reds and the Royals. The Kansas City club put 6-4 and 5-2 victories on the Indians in the first two games of their series to drop the Indians to a game above the .500 mark, but the Tribe recovered with a resounding 10-1 victory in the finale of that series. They followed it up with much better results against the second-worst team in the league, the A’s, by outscoring them 23-10 in taking three of four.
Corey Kluber threw six innings of two-hit, shutout baseball and the Cleveland offense capitalized on sloppy defensive work by Oakland on Thursday as the Indians routed the A’s, 8-0.
The Indians ace returned from a lengthy stint on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain, but one would have never guessed it with the way that he handed the Oakland lineup as he struck out ten A’s hitters of the 18 that he retired in a start monitored on a pitch count after a short five-inning rehab start in Akron last Friday.
Clevinger gave the Indians a quality effort on the mound, but his offense could not figure out the left-hander Manaea, who limited the Indians to just a run and three hits in a dominant effort on the mound.
Throughout his career, Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer has shown glimpses of what made him the third overall selection in the 2011 draft. Tuesday night was one such night as he struck out a career-high and American League season-high 14 Oakland hitters and the Indians used a seven-run outburst in the middle innings to defeat the A’s, 9-4.
The Indians (27-23) pushed their winning streak to three straight and continued their dominance of the American League West Division. The club has now won seven straight against the AL West and improved to 12-2 overall against the division after posting a 3-0 mark against Texas, a 2-1 record against Seattle, and a 5-1 advantage over Houston.
While Bauer was cutting up the Oakland lineup, it did not come without some complications as the A’s held a 3-0 lead before Cleveland would tally its first run. After getting some help from his friends, Bauer made sure his new found lead would stand up.
All season long, manager Terry Francona has encouraged patience with slugging first baseman and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion while the Indians’ big free agent acquisition struggled with some consistency and an elevated strikeout rate at the plate.
That patience appears to have paid off.
Carlos Carrasco gave the Indians a quality outing and three solo homers provided some run support as the Indians defeated the Oakland Athletics, 5-3, on Memorial Day.
The Indians’ number two starter, making his second start since a left pectoral injury sidelined him for a few days, looked much more himself on the mound in limiting the A’s to just two late runs in his outing. His teammates were able to get to second-year starter Daniel Mengden, who was making his first start of the season while replacing the injured Kendall Graveman in the rotation.
The loudest ovation to come from Progressive Field on Monday afternoon when the Indians host the A’s may very well come for one of the visitors.
And that is absolutely okay and appropriate.