2018: Still Rallying Together
This past winter, the Cleveland Indians decided to move on from free agent and long-time player Carlos Santana. He was set to break the bank on a mega contract that Cleveland’s management did not think was worth shelling out to a first baseman who could put up decent power numbers, but has been very inconsistent over the course of his career.
Santana, 32 years old, inked a lucrative deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that guaranteed him three years and at least $60 million. It ended Santana’s eight-year (seven full seasons) run with the Tribe. His journey with Cleveland was a roller coaster ride, watching him go from catcher, to third base, to finally settling in as a first baseman.
It was also a roller coaster in the sense that he could not put back-to-back great seasons together. He followed a 27-homer 2011 campaign with seasons of 18 and 20 bombs. He mashed 27 again in 2014, but fell back to 19 again in 2015, and then hammered a career-high 34 jacks in Cleveland’s 2016 World Series season. He finished his Tribe tenure dropping back down to 23 taters last season, putting him all over the map. His .249 batting average did not scream franchise player either, so why pay Santana like a franchise player – especially in a smaller market like Cleveland.
The Cleveland Indians kick off a six-game road trip with a return to Chicago for a three-game weekend set with the White Sox.
The Tribe (64-50) moved to a season-high 14 games over the .500 mark by winning three of four from the Minnesota Twins during the week. It brought their record against the division to 35-16 on the season (with an 8-8 mark against the Twins with three left to play). Cleveland comes into the weekend with an eleven-game lead in the AL Central over Minnesota and a 23-game advantage over Chicago.
If you are feeling a little bit of déjà vu, that is to be expected with the way the 2018 Major League Baseball schedule has worked itself out. For the second straight week, the Indians and Twins will meet on the diamond, with Cleveland playing the host to the visiting Minnesota club.
Cleveland (61-49) will look to continue its better play of late, winning back-to-back series over the Twins and the Los Angeles Angels. They dropped a sloppy 7-4 decision on Friday, but rebounded with a strong 3-0 shutout on Saturday and held on for a 4-3 win on Sunday in the season finale with the Halos. The Indians moved their season record against the Twins to 5-7 with their performance last week against their division rival. They will be looking to prevent Minnesota from locking up the season series between the two clubs.
On June 16, Carlos Carrasco was both battered and bruised.
Slogging through one of his worst stretches since becoming a real fixture in the Cleveland Indians rotation at the end of the 2014 season, Carrasco left his start on June 16 after just an inning and a third innings when a line drive to the forearm ended his day. However, the four earned runs surrendered in the first frame seemed almost as likely to send the Tribe’s 2017 Cy Young candidate to the showers early regardless.
The Zach McAllister era in Cleveland ended two months earlier than anticipated, as the pending free agent was designated for assignment by the Indians on Friday to make room for the return of left-hander Andrew Miller from the 60-day disabled list.
Miller has not appeared on the mound in an Indians uniform since May 25, when he was tagged with his third blown save and third loss in six May appearances when he allowed three runs on two hits with a walk in two-thirds of an inning against Houston. It capped off a horrific month for the All-Star reliever, who allowed seven runs on seven hits with six walks and six strikeouts in just four and one-third innings. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list on May 26 with right knee inflammation and was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 24.
After a quick road trip through Detroit and Minneapolis, the Cleveland Indians return home this weekend for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians (59-48) finally figured out the Minnesota Twins over the weekend, taking each of the final two games of the series to pull a little closer on the season series against their toughest division rival to date. The Tribe moved to 9-6 since the break after their 4-2 trip and continued their better play on the road in July, winning eight of their last ten away from home. They own a ten-game lead in the American League Central Division over the Twins as the division may have conceded with the pile of trade deadline moves that came from within throughout July.
Even a seven-game hitting slump could not slow down Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez during a scorching hot month of July as the Indians’ All-Star third baseman was named the American League’s Player of the Month on Wednesday afternoon.
Ramirez continued his incredible display at the plate with another solid showing in July, keeping his name at the top of the list of AL Most Valuable Player candidates for the 2018 season. The 25-year-old matched a season-high with 25 runs batted in, stole 11 bases in 12 chances (the most swipes in the Majors in the month), and added a healthy .322/.441/.722 slash at the plate for a combined 1.164 OPS.
The Indians snuck in a second deal prior to the trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon, acquiring outfielder Oscar Mercado from the St. Louis Cardinals for a pair of outfielders in the Cleveland farm system.
The Cleveland Indians addressed their depleted outfield on Tuesday in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring veteran outfielder Leonys Martin and minor league pitcher Kyle Dowdy from the Detroit Tigers for shortstop prospect Willi Castro.
Martin is not expected to arrive in time for the team’s game in Minnesota against the Twins on Tuesday night. The 30-year-old outfielder came at the cost of one of the Indians’ top middle infield prospects in Castro, who had been with the organization for five years and is just 21 years old.
The Indians will wrap up their six-game road trip this week with a three-day stay at Minnesota’s Target Field against the hometown Twins.
The Indians (57-47) have had a tough time since the All-Star break, going 5-4. Four of those wins have come in their six road contests in the second half. Cleveland will wrap up another month with a winning record, bringing in a 13-10 mark in the month of July into the series with two games left to play. They will have to overcome a Minnesota team that has taken six of the first nine meetings between the clubs this season, the only club in the American League Central to give the Tribe fits. The Indians enter the day with a nine game lead in the division.
Around the middle of May, there were loud drum beats surrounding the Indians that it may be time for the team to move on from its two-time All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis. Kipnis looked completely lost at the plate and was becoming something of a liability in the field.
At 31, Kip was not looking like anything close to his former self, who was once considered one of the team’s most important players. It was an image that he still carried in 2016 as a key cog to the club’s surprising World Series appearance that summer.
The veteran suffered through an injury-plagued 2017 campaign that limited him to only 90 games, but he has been healthy this entire season. However, after an 0-for-3 game at the plate on May 14, Kipnis was batting a mere .170 and his power seemed greatly diminished. He had collected only one home run and driven in just 13 to that point. He had eight doubles. In short, the Indians were not getting much production out of the second baseman early in the season.
With Saturday’s probable starter Mike Clevinger dealing with an illness in Detroit, the Indians have changed course on their roster plans for the day.
Outfielder Tyler Naquin, as expected, has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with right hip soreness and has left the team to return to Cleveland for further evaluation. The team was expected to promote Greg Allen from Triple-A Columbus, but due to Clevinger’s illness, instead brought back right-hander Adam Plutko.
Plutko was with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate at Lehigh Valley, where the Clippers were set to play the IronPigs.