When a baseball team loses a pair of late-inning relievers to free agency, as the Cleveland Indians did this past week, it is certainly cause for some concern and worry. However, it is nowhere near time for Tribe fans to start hitting the panic button when it comes to Cleveland’s bullpen and its prospects for remaining a team strength in 2018.
Watching Bryan Shaw sign with the Colorado Rockies and then Joe Smith ink a deal with the Houston Astros was definitely frustrating for the faithful followers of the Wahoo Warriors. The sky is not falling and the walls are not caving in, however, at the home bullpen at Progressive Field.
How much money are the Cleveland Indians willing to put toward their vaunted bullpen?
That is something Tribe fans may find out this offseason. Arguably the best relief corps in baseball, the team has two key free agents in Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith. The bullpen would definitely have a different feel to it without Shaw, but to what lengths should the Tribe actually go to keep a reliever who is not one of its top two pitchers?
In a game that was not highlighted by the most quality pitching seen, the Minnesota Twins rallied back from a 6-4 deficit as Brian Dozier cleared the wall in right with a three-run shot in the top of the eighth off of Bryan Shaw and Minnesota held on to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 8-6, from Progressive Field on Tuesday night.
The Twins (83-74) reduced their magic number to clinch the American League’s second wild card spot down to one game. The Los Angeles Angels pulled out a victory over the Chicago White Sox, 9-3, to keep their hopes alive in the battle for the final playoff spot in the junior circuit, forcing the Twins to postpone any celebrations of their first trip to the playoffs since 2010 for at least one more day. They have now won five games in a row and improved to 6-1 while playing in Cleveland this season. They used 17 hits on the night to keep the bases clogged, giving them ample opportunity to mount a late comeback.
Cleveland claimed a second consecutive American League Central Division crown in the late night hours on Saturday night in anticlimactic fashion as the Minnesota Twins fell to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Tribe was able to celebrate with another win in its first game as the division champs behind seven shutout innings from Corey Kluber, a big blast from Edwin Encarnacion, and a bit of a dicey finish from the normally reliable bullpen.
The Indians (93-57) won another series to improve to 24-1 in their last 25 games. They wrapped up their homestand with a 9-1 record to push their season mark at home to 45-30. With the AL Central title in tow, the Tribe will look to fend off the Houston Astros for the best record in the league.
Cleveland wrapped up the season series with Kansas City with a 12-7 record while outscoring the Royals, 90-52.
As if playing two games was not enough excitement for one day, the Indians and Tigers flirted with the possibility of extra innings in the series opener Friday afternoon from Detroit. After twice letting the Tigers tie the game up, Detroit loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a one-run game, but Cleveland reliever Joe Smith got the always-dangerous Miguel Cabrera to line out sharply to Francisco Lindor at short to give the Indians a 3-2 win in game one of the day’s doubleheader.
It was fitting that Lindor retired the final out after coming through with the go-ahead hit in the top of the inning to give the Indians (77-56) their eighth straight win.
Two first inning runs would be all the support he would get, but Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland bullpen would make the runs stand up as the Indians defeated the New York Yankees, 2-1, in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader from Yankee Stadium.
Bauer and left-hander Jaime Garcia faced off against one another in the day’s first game and the Indians gave Bauer a pair of runs of support before he even took the mound. Francisco Lindor started the game with a single to right. He stole second after a fly out by Brandon Guyer and moved to third on a single to left by Jose Ramirez. A passed ball by Gary Sanchez allowed Lindor to score and Ramirez to move into scoring position and Yandy Diaz delivered the second run of the frame with a single to center.
A four-run ninth inning by the Red Sox broke open a one-run game to give Boston a big victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night from Progressive Field, 6-1.
A game featuring a pair of 12-game winners in Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Boston’s Drew Pomeranz lived up to the billing as a close contest took place between the two starters. Pomeranz would get run before completing six innings, but he kept the Indians off of the scoreboard in the process. His bullpen teammates would do the same until the bottom of the eighth, but a mess of a ninth by the Tribe relief staff erased any chances of a comeback by Cleveland on this night.
Sometimes, one play can open the floodgates and drastically change the outcome of a sporting event. A misplayed fly ball with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning turned a just-tied game into a five-run inning for the Yankees as New York crushed the Cleveland Indians, 8-1, on Sunday afternoon.
The scuffling Yankees offense put up as many runs in their sixth inning assault as they have over the course of their previous four games. They got a little help from one of their former outfield prospects, Abraham Almonte, who could not track down the ball as it looked like he was bracing for impact with the wall well before reaching it.
Tuesday night has forced me to break character a little bit.
Had it not been for 104 recaps on this website already this season, I might have opted to skip the events that transpired at Fenway Park on Tuesday so as to not relive them again. But, out of respect for the process, the show, as they say, must go on. To the handful of people who elect to subject themselves to what follows, either for a first time or for a painful repeated dose, this is my apology. You have been warned. Turn back now.
Tuesday night was the kind of ball game that few who watched will forget for quite some time and one has to wonder about the long-term repercussions on those who played the game itself. It had a little bit of everything, with the exception of good pitching, and was an entertaining game from start to finish for both sides, albeit for different reasons along the way. The ball flew all around Fenway Park. There was a highlight reel catch in center field by Austin Jackson that will be played throughout the rest of the 2017 regular season, if not into the foreseeable future. There were several lead changes, two very significant wild pitches late by big-time closers, and a pair of game-changing home runs in the ninth.
This recap should be about how the Indians tagged Chris Sale for seven runs, including five in the first two innings. It should be about Francisco Lindor becoming just the second player to take Craig Kimbrel deep on an 0-2 count in his lengthy career and that the shot over the Monster tied the game in the top of the ninth. It should be about how the Indians loaded the bases with two outs in the frame and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from the All-Star closer.
A two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth by Chicago rookie Matt Davidson off of Cleveland’s Bryan Shaw ended the Indians’ nine-game winning streak as the American League Central leaders fell to the White Sox, 3-1, on Sunday.
It was once again a tale of missed opportunities for the Indians, who saw their long stretch of victories come to a close at Guaranteed Rate Field in the finale of the three-game series with the Pale Hose. A well-pitched game on both sides came down to the final frame, when Cleveland’s persona non grata not named Kyrie Irving served up back-to-back hits in the ninth, with the latter giving the White Sox a much needed win during a tumultuous time of upheaval in the club’s clubhouse.
The second half has not started the way that the Cleveland Indians would have scripted.
One night after being limited to four hits in a 5-0 shutout by the Oakland Athletics, Corey Kluber allowed a game-tying solo blast in the eighth inning and Bryan Shaw gave up the game-winning two-run shot to Khris Davis in the bottom of the ninth as the A’s celebrated their seventh walk-off win in a 5-3 victory on Saturday night.
The Indians (47-42) have now opened the second half by losing games started by the top two pitchers in their rotation.