The Cleveland Indians are no strangers to September injuries to key pieces of their roster.
Just last season alone, the Indians lost Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Corey Kluber to various ailments in the final month of the regular season schedule. While Kluber would return and put the team on his back for the postseason, Carrasco was lost for the duration while Salazar made a brief cameo in the World Series, but only in the capacity of a reliever when the team was in dire need of a starter to ease the workload on the remaining healthy members of the rotation.
Those injuries attacked an area that the Indians lacked good quality depth. The same cannot be said for the disappointing news that came out of the Tribe’s 18th straight win on Sunday night, when Bradley Zimmer was stepped on during a head first dive into first base.
Numerous injuries, the weather, a flip of the calendar, a pair of doubleheaders in the span of three days, and even a long road trip have failed to slow down the Cleveland Indians. Baltimore proved incapable of stopping the Tribe either, as the Indians continued their utter dominance of Major League Baseball over the last few weeks by winning their 18th consecutive game, defeating the Orioles by a 3-2 final on Sunday Night Baseball.
National Football League action returned to the Cleveland lake shore earlier in the day, but it was the Indians who would be the day’s victor in town as the Indians took an early lead, responded with big back-to-back homers after the Orioles tied the game, and held on for the win as their impressive streak survived another day. The Indians may have been even more inspired prior to their nationally televised game on ESPN as they undoubtedly were aware that the Houston Astros dropped a fourth straight game in Oakland to the A’s, giving Cleveland a half-game lead for the best record in the American League heading into the final game of the day’s schedule.
There were plenty of bombs in the Bronx on Monday, but just one came courtesy of the Bronx Bombers as the Cleveland Indians supported Corey Kluber with four of their own in their defeat of the New York Yankees, 6-2.
The game was everything one could expect from a matchup of two of the top pitchers in the American League and teammates on the league’s All-Star squad back in July. The AL Central’s top club got out to an early lead with their ace on the mound, but would need a power surge in the late innings to ensure a win over the Wild Card leading Yankees.
Last weekend, the Kansas City Royals missed out on a big opportunity to get back into the American League Central race by dropping two of three to the first place Cleveland Indians. With another opportunity this weekend, the Royals offense has gone missing as Mike Clevinger and three relievers combined on the Indians’ second straight shutout of their division rival, 4-0.
The back-to-back shutouts to open the series with Kansas City gives Cleveland five shutouts of the Royals this season and a Major League leading 14 shutouts this season.
Inclement weather intervened on the final game of the series between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox on August 2, which may have been a blessing for both clubs after a grueling emotional roller coaster ride of a game the night before that saw bad outings by Chris Sale and Carlos Carrasco followed by some poor pitching performances by some of the biggest names in each team’s respective bullpen. That cancellation led to a quick reunion, as the Tribe and Sox will rematch for a one-night showing at Fenway Park on Monday.
The Indians (63-52) have not let the disadvantages of playing on the road be an issue for the club this season. With a 32-25 record away from Progressive Field, the Tribe is one of just seven teams in the Majors with a winning road record, and their mark is the third-best in the American League, trailing Houston (39-20) and Minnesota (32-24). Road wins have been a common theme for the division leaders this season – all six clubs leading playoff chases possess winning records and the other road warriors, the Minnesota Twins, find themselves just four and a half games off of the mark in the AL Central.
Just over two years ago, Carlos Carrasco came within an out of throwing the first no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians since 1981 in his victory in St. Petersburg over the Tampa Bay Rays. On Friday night, he flirted with a no-no again as he came seven outs from history, ultimately settling for a combined three-hitter over those same Rays, 5-0.
Backed by a big fifth inning by his teammates against rookie right-hander Jacob Faria, Carrasco contained the Rays in his home away from home, as the Florida resident and road warrior allowed just two hits and two walks in eight scoreless innings to earn his eleventh win of the season, a team-high. He needed just 106 pitches to clear those eight innings, striking out ten and getting 22 swings and misses over the course of the night.
The Indians saw the old version of Doug Fister that they have faced numerous times over the years and not the player who had struggled to find a consistent spot in the Majors as the veteran right-hander returned to the Red Sox rotation and shut down the Cleveland offense over seven and two-thirds innings before a late Tribe homer in a 6-2 win by Boston on Monday night.
Fister was in prime form in the series opener from Fenway Park as the Indians’ struggles in the oldest ball park in the Majors continued. Mike Clevinger had a tough time on the mound for the Indians for a second straight start and did so in his first game against the Red Sox in his career.
It was another one of those games in which the final score did not accurately reflect much of the day’s events. Cleveland broke a 2-2 tie on a seventh inning double by rookie Bradley Zimmer and piled on seven more runs in the eighth as the Indians defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 10-4, on Wednesday night from Progressive Field.
With another win, the Indians (54-45) improved to 6-0 in their current seven-game homestand and are now a season-high nine games above the .500 mark. They have won nine straight games at home against the Angels and are one win short of sweeping each of the last three seasons’ contests in Cleveland. They maintained a game and a half lead on the victorious Kansas City Royals, who extended their own winning streak to eight straight.
The Cleveland Indians hit three home runs, including a pair of grand slams, but needed eleven innings to defeat the Los Angeles Angels, 11-7, on Tuesday night after surrendering a seven-run second inning lead.
The game certainly served as a bit of an emotional roller coaster. The Indians provided quite the high by putting up seven early runs, powered by the second inning grand slam by Bradley Zimmer, only to turn around and steadily give every run back over the course of the next few innings.
The ride ended, however, with fireworks and a celebration for the ages at home plate as Edwin Encarnacion blasted the team’s second slam of the night in the bottom of the eleventh to send the Indians (53-45) home with a fifth straight win.
It took nearly two months, but the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds finally completed their four-game season series on Monday night as the Tribe, backed by six quality innings from Josh Tomlin and a pair of homers from each side of the plate by Carlos Santana, defeated their in-state rivals with a 6-2 victory.
The Indians (52-45) moved to seven games over the .500 mark and held their ground in the American League Central, with both the second place and third place clubs making trades for pitching prior to the Indians’ one-game date with the Reds from Progressive Field.
Michael Fulmer pitched at his All-Star level through the first six innings and the Cleveland bullpen could not keep the score tied in the middle innings as the Detroit Tigers dealt the Indians a 5-3 loss to close out the first half of the 2017 regular season schedule.
Sunday’s national broadcast put the Indians and Tigers in the spotlight with an impressive pitching matchup between a pair of All-Stars in Fulmer and Corey Kluber.
With the way Carlos Carrasco was pitching on Friday night at Progressive Field, he was not going to need too much run support. So, of course, the Cleveland bats put up eleven runs as the Indians destroyed the Detroit Tigers in an 11-2 final.
Carrasco got the help that he did not necessarily need as he fired seven innings of two-run baseball while striking out eleven Tigers hitters to win his fifth straight decision. He improved to 10-3 in his final start of the first half. He pitched with a big lead after a five-run third inning by the Tribe off of Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann and never looked back.
His effort was also a historic one for the record books as he pulled off the “immaculate inning” in the fifth by striking out the side while needing just nine pitches, becoming just the second pitcher in Cleveland Indians history to accomplish the feat and just the 84th to do so in Major League Baseball history (Justin Masterson was the only Tribe pitcher to do it previously, recording his in 2014).