2019: Enjoy Him
With the wailing and gnashing of teeth this off-season, it’s easy to forget how good we have it (relatively speaking) as Indians fans. I can still remember the doldrums of the 1980s, when terrible teams played in a decrepit stadium in front of a crowd of my family and what seemed like about 1,200 of our closest friends.
A lot of the Tribe’s recent good fortune is due in large part to one man: Terry Francona, who took the job in 2013. And thanks to a contract extension, it appears he’ll be in the Indians dugout for years to come.
The Indians announced a two-year contract extension Wednesday morning that will keep Francona as Tribe manager through 2022. If he finishes the contract out – and absent some terrible scandal, I still believe the only way he leaves is on his own accord – he’ll be the longest-tenured Indians manager, eclipsing Lou Boudreau.
The Cleveland bullpen allowed three runs after seven shutout innings of one-hit baseball from Mike Clevinger, but a similar disastrous effort from the Chicago White Sox allowed the Indians to rally with four runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 5-3 win in Monday’s Home Opener from Progressive Field.
Three different Tribe relievers combined for two extra base hits, a walk, a costly error, and three poorly timed runs in the top of the eighth as the dormant White Sox lineup woke up to claim a 3-1 lead. Chicago manager Rick Renteria responded with a trip to his own bullpen after seven one-run innings from Ivan Nova, but it proved to be costly.
The concerns surrounding the Cleveland Indians and their lackluster offseason were brought to the forefront over the weekend, when the offense was limited to just five runs and amassed 39 strikeouts in a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (1-2) scuffled during the opening weekend of the 2019 regular season against their number one rival in the American League Central, the Twins. While the starting pitching put together a pair of good outings and the bullpen proved serviceable in small doses, the offense was dead on arrival, mustering just two runs in a win on Saturday and three runs in garbage time on Sunday after trailing eight runs. The Indians will look to some home cooking to right the early season woes of an otherwise unpleasant experience at Target Field, as the offense looked as bad as many feared it did on paper.
Cold weather did not slow or stop the Minnesota Twins in game three of the season, as they tallied nine runs off of Cleveland Indians pitching to earn a series victory with a 9-3 win on Sunday.
The rubber match of the season opening series in Target Field did not favor the Indians, as they fell behind early as the Twins tallied a run in the second and two more in the fourth, but it was a disastrous fifth inning that broke the game wide open. Paced to an 8-0 lead at the time, the Twins breezed to an easy win from there, especially facing an anemic Indians offense that racked up 13 strikeouts for the third straight game.
After showing some good flashes in Goodyear but being informed that he would not make the Opening Day roster, Ryan Flaherty opted out of his minor league pact with the Cleveland Indians on March 20 to see what options were out there.
On Sunday, the 32-year-old utility man returned to the Tribe, agreeing to a minor league deal. He is expected to report to Triple-A Columbus in advance of the Clippers season opening series with the Indianapolis Indians beginning from Huntington Park on Thursday, April 4.
Hanley Ramirez hit a monster home run, Trevor Bauer pitched seven innings of one-run, one-hit baseball, and Greg Allen hit the game-deciding pinch-hit sacrifice fly with one down in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians got in the win column with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Both offenses were silenced on a cold and windy day in Minnesota, as the logic of the Twins hosting a season opening series in their dome-less stadium in the Land of 10,000 Lakes was questioned once again with near record setting temperatures and wind gusts coming in from left field at more than 30 MPH. While most players were bundled up as those they were about to hit the ski slopes, Bauer took the mound in short sleeves and showed again why he is one of the top pitchers in baseball today.
Quite a few familiar names and a few others not as well known have left the Indians organization since the final pitch of the American League Division Series sweep suffered by Cleveland at the hands of the Houston Astros.
In one busy offseason, the Indians saw new holes pop up all around the roster. Two corner outfielders, three more bench outfielders, the team’s starting designated hitter, first baseman, and catcher, as well as the two most important arms in the bullpen, all either left and signed elsewhere or were traded away, while the Tribe front office’s biggest guaranteed deal went to 37-year-old reliever Oliver Perez, who signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal in January with a vesting option for 2020.
The Indians have added another prospective outfielder to their mix of internal candidates, as the club announced on Friday that free agent Cameron Maybin has signed on with Cleveland on a minor league deal.
The terms of the contract were not announced at the time of the signing. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Maybin is expected to report to Triple-A Columbus for the start of International League play next week.
No Wahoo, no runs, and no fun for the Tribe on Thursday as Minnesota’s Jose Berrios won an intense battle against Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, combining with reliever Taylor Rogers on a two-hit 2-0 Opening Day shutout from Target Field.
In a well-pitched game for both starters through six innings, the Twins capitalized on rare base runners in the seventh to take the lead and hold on for good. Kluber took a perfect game into the fifth and a no-hitter into the sixth. Three different relievers combined to throw a perfect eighth inning to keep the score at two runs, but it was too much for the Tribe to overcome in a tough day at the plate. While the Twins managed only four hits on the day, their pitching limited the Indians to just three batters over the minimum while striking out 13 in an Opening Day gem.
After a long winter of cost-cutting and public relations nightmares in Cleveland, there is finally some baseball to talk about as the Indians meet up with their chief division rivals, the Minnesota Twins, in their first official games without their Chief Wahoo on their caps and sleeves.
The latter would not be such an issue if Tribe players took the Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn approach to pitching, but players still wear caps and sleeves at this level, son.