2018: Still Rallying Together
The cat was out of the bag on Sunday, when Melky Cabrera’s name showed up prior to the Cleveland Indians’ matchup with the Houston Astros in the sixth spot on the lineup card, playing right field.
The Indians formally announced prior to their game Sunday night that the 33-year-old veteran outfielder was purchased from Triple-A Columbus. Right-handed reliever Evan Marshall was optioned to Columbus, while fellow right-hander Alexi Ogando was designated for assignment at Triple-A to make room on the 40-man roster for the addition of Cabrera.
Erik Gonzalez worked his way to the Major Leagues and the Cleveland Indians thanks to his glove. His ability to play every position, other than catcher and pitcher, make him the perfect utility player for any baseball team. It is why the Indians chose to keep him over Gio Urshela when both were out of minor league options and Urshela returned from his spring training injury earlier this month. Gonzalez can play seven spots on the diamond, while Urshela specialized at third base. Neither was know as an exceptionally good hitter, though Gonzalez did alright at the plate in a brief sample size last season.
The Indians are probably pretty happy right that they chose to keep the 26-year-old Gonzalez. Not only has Gonzalez played all four infield spots this season, meaning that he can give almost any everyday player any given day or night off, but he seems to be adding a new flare at the plate to his repertoire.
If the playoffs were to start today (just past the quarter pole of the actual 2018 season schedule), the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros would be first round opponents in the American League Division Series.
Cleveland (21-21) kicked off a three-city, eight-game road trip in Detroit earlier in the week, taking a pair of bad losses before salvaging the finale behind a stellar start from Trevor Bauer on Wednesday. The bullpen was once again in the spotlight, unable to prevent runs from crossing in the series. Their series with the Astros will be a big test, as they will hope that their starting three for the game will be able to do what they have done for most of the season and pitch deep into the ball game to avoid facing relying on the unstable bullpen’s results. The Tribe comes into the weekend with a game and a half lead over Detroit (20-23) in the American League Central Division.
The Cleveland Indians and reliever Matt Belisle have reunited on a minor league deal, the team announced on Wednesday.
Belisle was a late addition to the Tribe roster in the spring, joining the club on a minor league deal with a non-roster invitation to Cactus League play. He won a bullpen job out of camp, but he was designated for assignment by the Indians on May 2 after appearing in eight games for the Tribe. He was granted his free agency after declining his outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus following passing through waivers unclaimed.
The Indians waited and waited and waited some more, but finally on Tuesday afternoon, they could wait no longer for Bradley Zimmer‘s injuries to heal up.
The Tribe officially placed their starting center fielder on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to May 12, with a left rib contusion. The injury was the end result of a collision with the wall at Yankee Stadium two Saturdays ago. He had missed six games and had two off days since the ill-fated wall encounter, but has still experienced discomfort while swinging. After missing the finale of the series with the Yankees, he played in the second of two games in Milwaukee against the Brewers, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout on May 9. After Thursday’s off day, he missed the entire series against the Kansas City Royals and the opener of the current series with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
Len Barker, getting the sign from Ron Hassey. Ernie Whitt stands in. Wind up, here it comes. Fly ball, center field. Manning coming on, he’s there…he catches it! Len Barker has pitched a no-hitter! A perfect game for Len Barker! The stands erupt, the players go out, Len Barker being surrounded on the field. He has made baseball history here tonight. Len Barker has pitched a perfect ball game. Faces 27 men, retires them all, eleven strikeouts. Len Barker being mobbed on the field, the Cleveland Indians win it, 3-0. – Herb Score’s call of Barker’s perfect game
It has now been 37 years since Len Barker lifted his leg high and tight on a 1-2 pitch to Toronto Blue Jays catcher Ernie Whitt, inducing a fly ball to center field. Rick Manning raced in, arms extended straight out as though he were flying. He raised both arms above his head and he secured the catch before beginning his ascent to the mound with several high hops in celebration of the 27th and final out of Barker’s perfect game.
After going his whole (albeit brief) Major League career without winning a weekly honor from the American League, Francisco Lindor decided to go ahead and win it twice in a row.
The Indians’ star shortstop hit .600 and was named the American League’s Co-Player of the Week for games played between May 7 and May 13, sharing the honor with Seattle Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton.
Times have been tough in Tiger town, but Detroit and Comerica Park will still welcome in the Cleveland Indians for three games for the first time this season.
The Indians (20-19) are coming off of a series win over the Kansas City Royals in their brief three-game homestand, pulling the club back over the .500 mark following a rough 1-4 road trip. While the Tribe is just 5-7 in May (after a 15-12 record to open the year), the offense has been producing, scoring 88 runs, an average of more than seven per game. The problem has been some defensive miscues and a bullpen that has not been firing well, as the pitching staff as a whole has allowed more than five and a half runs per game. Cleveland swept Detroit in four straight games in April, outscoring the Tigers by an 18-5 edge.
Three years ago at this time, Jose Ramirez was a scuffling utility infielder who was struggling to make it at the big league level. Forget becoming an All-Star, some wondered if Ramirez would ever hit Major League pitching and he appeared to have the career trajectory of Giovanny Urshela, a strong defender who could not hit a lick.
It is hard to believe that was only three years ago as Ramirez has terrorized MLB pitching the last two seasons and is back at it again this year. Ramirez has found a home at third base, no longer a utility player. Instead, J-Ram is now one of the Tribe’s most important player and arguably the team’s best hitter. He has sure come a long way.
Tyler Naquin has spent much of the last month and a half trying to prove that he can be a valuable contributor on the Cleveland Indians roster, whether it be in a starting role in right field for the time being or coming off of the bench. With an increased opportunity for playing time, he has come through with a big home run earlier this week and he extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games on Friday with another key hit in the clutch, but the latter one will cost him some playing time.
Performing at a high level with a perfect opportunity to make a case to help out the Indians throughout the season, Naquin was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday morning with a left hamstring strain. He suffered the injury running the bases after his big two-run double in the Indians’ six-run fourth inning of Friday night’s 10-9 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Over the last two weeks, the Cleveland Indians have faced a harsh reminder of the significance that Andrew Miller has on the team’s success as the bullpen has floundered in his absence while he dealt with a left hamstring strain.
The relief staff can begin to settle back in to its old roles, or at least they can within a few more days, as the Indians activated their All-Star left-hander from the 10-day disabled list and placed fellow southpaw Tyler Olson on paternity leave.
Olson could be away from the club anywhere from one to three days as a result of his placement on the temporary list.
Plenty could be written about the unpredictable and unusual schedule that the Cleveland Indians have this season. With that said, the Indians return home after a short five-game road trip for three games with the Kansas City Royals before jetting right back out of town for a much longer road trip than the recently completed one.
The Indians (18-18) salvaged an ugly road trip by taking the finale in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon after losing a close contest on Tuesday night. Cleveland began its brief five-game roadie with three straight losses to the New York Yankees. It continued a down May for the club, as they have gone just 3-6 after ending April three games up in the win column. Despite the downward trend in play, they have remained atop the American League Central Division, holding a game and a half lead over Minnesota. The Indians took two of three from Kansas City in a previous series at Progressive Field this year in a low-scoring set that saw the two clubs combine to score just ten runs in the three contests.