Houston’s Charlie Morton gave up just one run in seven innings of work as the Cleveland Indians dropped their series opener with the Astros on Friday, 4-1.
While the Indians were one of the few teams that handled the future World Champions well last season, that was not the case on Friday as strong pitching shut down a Tribe offense that has been as inconsistent as they come. A tough matchup with Morton, who has emerged as a top quality starter in the game, went the way as the Astros as he paired with two relievers to hold the Indians to just a run on eight total hits.
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.
Trevor Bauer struck out ten Tigers batters and Cody Allen finished a five-hit shutout of Detroit on Wednesday as the Cleveland Indians avoided a sweep with a 6-0 victory on getaway day from Comerica Park.
Coming off of his worst start of the year, Bauer was unhittable at times and used a healthy diet of tough breaking pitches to contain a Tigers lineup that had scored six unanswered runs the night before to upset the Indians to earn a series win. Bauer gave the Tribe eight strong innings on the mound and could have gone back out for the complete game in the ninth, had it not been for the need to get the closer Allen some work in after not appearing on the mound over the last three days.
The Indians got their first look at 27-year-old left-hander Ryan Carpenter, recalled by the Tigers from Triple-A Toledo to make the start on Wednesday. Cleveland greeted him quickly as the club took an early lead.
Eleven years ago this week, Sports Illustrated put Grady Sizemore on the cover.
The story raved about Sizemore, the Indians center fielder virtually stolen from the Expos in the trade that sent Bartolo Colon to Montreal. His on-base percentage kept improving. He had size. He had speed. He had power. He had legions of female fans – “Grady’s ladies,” they were called. Best of all, he was under team control for another five years. The story likened his numbers at that point to Duke Snider, who went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Dodgers.
“To watch him play day in and day out is a rare treat,” said Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro. “All of us, from the front office to the players to the bat boys, are fortunate to see him every day. He is without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation.”
It wasn’t to be.
Cleveland sports fans are going to want a do-over of Tuesday’s efforts.
While the NBA’s Cavs were falling two games behind the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals from Boston, the Indians blew two separate four-run leads and a five-run edge later, squandered several bases loaded opportunities, and saw the bullpen implode again in the late innings as a big lead turned into a close game and ended in disaster, as the Detroit Tigers rallied several times and scored the final six runs to win an ugly 9-8 final from Comerica Park.
Some games are hard to recap and Tuesday was a prime example. The Indians (20-21) got off to a great start in the first inning, giving Josh Tomlin plenty of support before he even took the mound. Given the fact that he had not pitched since May 4 and that he has been home-run-happy this season, a big early lead seemed imperative for the Tribe to have any sort of shot at success in the Motor City. They got it, but it would not be enough.
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.