2018: Still Rallying Together
A long regular season will come to its conclusion this weekend as the Kansas City Royals host the Cleveland Indians in a four-game set from Kauffman Stadium.
The Indians (89-69) will look to get some players some rest and others a little bit of extra work as the team makes decisions on the makeup of the postseason roster while looking to head into the playoffs on a hot streak. A tough September has seen the Indians post just a 12-12 record as the team wrapped up the division early and has coasted through much of the season without a threat from the other four teams in the American League Central Division. With the exception of a 1-1 record in March, the Indians have played no worse than two games over .500 in any month of the season.
The Cleveland Indians head back to the Windy City for the fourth time this season as they conclude their third road set in Chicago against the fourth place White Sox.
The Indians (87-68) have had a tough time in September, but they stepped up big against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend in a potential preview of the ALCS. The Indians needed extra inning heroics to win two out of three in the series, using eleventh inning hits by Michael Brantley and Greg Allen to claim victories. Cleveland has played well, as expected, against Chicago this season, taking 12 of the first 16 matchups while doubling up the Sox in the runs department, 86-43. The last time the clubs met a week ago, the Indians pulled out two more wins in the three games.
Monday starts the final week of regular season baseball. For the Indians, it will be the final week in which the games have no importance, record-wise.
With a third straight American League Central Division title sewn up more than a week ago, the only thing that the Indians have had left to play for is pride and getting themselves set up for what they hope will be a long playoff run. That latter part has been big. The team, over the last week and over this coming week, will be looking to get players rested, get other players healthy, and get everyone geared up and ready to go for October baseball.
Baseball will get a playoff preview of sort over the weekend as the Cleveland Indians host the Boston Red Sox in three straight games from Progressive Field. The series may lack the usual buildup, however, as both teams have clinched and will likely be looking to rest up players in anticipation for the postseason grind.
The Indians (85-67) claimed a pair of wins in three tries against the Chicago White Sox in their second-to-last series against their young fourth place rival on the year. The team needed a walk-off grand slam in the second game of the series to claim a series win as they lost in extra innings on Thursday night. The Indians and Red Sox last met in the third week of August and each team won a pair of games, with Cleveland claiming the first two close contests before Boston earned 10-4 and 7-0 victories in the final games.
With eleven strikeouts on August 6 against the Minnesota Twins, Trevor Bauer blew right past the 200-strikeout threshold, accomplishing the feat for the first time in his Major League career. He was the fourth pitcher in the American League (Boston’s Chris Sale and Houston’s Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole) and fifth overall in the Majors (Washington’s Max Scherzer) to reach that total at the time, doing so just six days into August. Since his accomplishment, he has been joined by the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, Arizona’s Patrick Corbin, the Yankees’ Luis Severino, Philadelphia’s Aaron Nola, Tampa’s Blake Snell, and teammates Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber.
One start later, his status for the remainder of the season and the pending postseason run was very much in jeopardy, but those worries have been lifted significantly as the Indians will activate Bauer from the 10-day disabled list to start against the Red Sox on Friday night.
The final homestand of the season continues for the Indians on Tuesday night as Cleveland hosts the Chicago White Sox in a three-game midweek set.
The Indians (83-66) continued their sleep walk through September, falling to 6-9 on the year after dropping two of three to Detroit over the weekend. While the team is winning at just a 40% clip in September, they still have managed to outscore the opposition by 12 runs. The Indians have lost or tied four of their five series in the month. They have defeated the White Sox ten times in 13 tries this season (outscoring them 73-34) with two series left in September.
Prior to Saturday’s game, longtime Cleveland slugger Victor Martinez announced his plan to retire at season’s end, bringing a close to a professional career that began in 1996 with the Indians organization and that has lasted 16 years at the Major League level.
Martinez’s announcement ended a month of speculation in the Motor City after the 39-year-old, relegated solely to designated hitting duties over the last two years and for the majority of the last four, had previously indicated in August that he was ‘pretty sure’ that this season would be his last. He erased those doubts prior to Saturday’s game, when the Indians honored one of the better switch-hitters in franchise history in a brief ceremony.
With a magic number of two, the Cleveland Indians look to wrap up the American League Central Division during a three-game weekend set with the Detroit Tigers.
The Indians (82-64) had a tough time during the week with Tampa Bay, dropping two of three again for the second time against the Rays this month. It continued season-long woes against the AL East, which has held the Indians to a 14-17 record against it this season. The Indians have crushed the AL Central, winning two out of every three contests to hold a 42-21 record over their division rivals. That mark is tied with the Atlanta Braves for the second-best interdivisional record and trails only the Boston Red Sox’s 48-19 performance against the East.
With his first inning two-out steal of second in his 140th game of the year on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez added another accomplishment to his growing resume for MVP consideration as he turned in just the 61st 30 homer-30 stolen base season in Major League Baseball history. In doing so, he also became just the third Indians player to accomplish the feat, joining historic seasons turned in by Joe Carter in 1987 and Grady Sizemore in 2008.
Fans can easily remember the type of game-changing ability that Sizemore had, whether it was with the glove, his speed, or with one swing of the bat. Those old enough to watch Carter in his prime in the late 1980s (tough words to even have to write) saw the same power and speed potential on a nightly basis, before his contribution to Cleveland’s future success revolved not around his production, but around the price the club charged the San Diego Padres to send Carter for several prospect pieces which factored largely in the team’s run through the decade to follow.
The Indians will try to wrap up the American League Central Division this week in Tampa as Cleveland concludes its seven-game road trip with three games against the Rays.
Cleveland (81-62) traded wins and losses with the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend to start its seven-game road trip before the final homestand of their year. September has been a rough one for the Tribe, as Cleveland is just 4-5 through the first nine days of the month. The pitching has provided some of the issue, as opposing players are hitting .272 against them this month, the second-worst mark in the American League. They do, however, lead the Bigs with 107 strikeouts and the league in walks with 17 in 81 1/3 innings. The Indians come into the series with a magic number to clinch the Central at five.
Is it possible that a starting pitcher with 18 wins in the first week of September could be an overlooked man? Add in that he has the game’s eighth-best ERA at 2.75 and incredible 0.95 WHIP, good for the game’s fourth lowest? Oh, and then there is the whole two Cy Young Awards thing.
Can this guy possibly be overlooked or taken for granted?
In the case of Cleveland Indians all-star and two-time Cy Young-winning Corey Kluber, that answer may just be yes.
The Indians are back on the road this weekend after a nine-game homestand as they head north of the border to Toronto to play four times with the Blue Jays.
The Indians (79-60) dropped their magic number to eight on Thursday when they completed a series win over the Kansas City Royals in a tight 3-1 victory from Progressive Field while the second place Minnesota Twins dropped their fifth straight in a 9-1 defeat against Houston. The pair of wins over the Royals brought the Tribe’s record during their nine-game homestand to 5-4, salvaging things some after dropping three in a row over the weekend.