With all sorts of rumors circulating about the Cleveland Indians’ starting rotation this offseason, finally there was some good news to ease the collective conscience of the fan base.
On Thursday, the Indians announced a two-year contract extension with starter Carlos Carrasco, whose name had been mentioned among three potential trade candidates as the team looks to build for the present and the future.
While the conclusion of the 2018 playing season came just Sunday night, teams around the Major League Baseball landscape are already back to work on making roster decisions that will affect 2019 and beyond.
The Cleveland Indians resolved a pair of these problems on Tuesday, when the team announced that the 2019 team option for starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco had been picked up, while the option for outfielder Brandon Guyer had been declined.
On Friday, the story was the Astros hitting more homers alone than the Indians had total hits. That lack of offense again reared its head for the Tribe as Cleveland was held to just three hits and lost a one-run lead in the sixth inning as Houston took a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series with a 3-1 win on Saturday.
The flat showing from an Indians roster relatively untested all season long proved discouraging again as the only runner to reach second base for Cleveland was Francisco Lindor during his third inning trot around the bases for the team’s only run of the day. The remaining four players to reach advanced no further than first base. Carlos Carrasco pitched well in his second career playoff game, but the bullpen behind him was unable to get out of a jam and a bad defensive play in right field led to a game-changing inning for the Astros in the bottom of the sixth.
For the third season in a row, there will be meaningful October baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization. The American League Division Series will kick off Friday afternoon from Minute Maid Park where the Houston Astros will play host in their quest for a second straight World Series title.
For the Indians (91-71), it was an underwhelming season in an easy division as the American League Central crown was nearly awarded them in spring training. While the cakewalk schedule may have led to mixed results throughout the season, the offense still wowed with the third-most runs scored in the game (818, trailing only Boston and New York) while the team put up a strong +170 run differential. The bats struck out the fewest times in baseball and on the base paths the team picked off 135 bases to lead the Majors. The Indians play with extra motivation, looking to make up for their disappointing first round exit after losing a 2-0 lead a season ago in the ALDS against the New York Yankees.
The biggest news to come out of game 162 was that there were no further injuries to the Tribe’s roster, which may have been the most important thing circled on the day’s agenda for manager Terry Francona. He got in a balanced game from dual starters Carrasco and Bauer, who each gave solid and encouraging efforts in their final action of the regular season. Carrasco earned his 17th win of the season, one short of his career high established a season ago, and Bauer’s four innings of work gave him the first save of his professional career. Regulars in the lineup got a handful of at bats, with only left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso out of the starting lineup against lanky lefty Eric Skoglund.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is the unquestioned ace of the Cleveland Indians starting pitching rotation. Trevor Bauer was having a Cy-worthy season of his own before taking a line drive off his leg in August and missing five weeks. He is back and looking to get back to his pre-injury form in time for the playoffs, which start Friday.
Almost lost in the hysteria of one Cy Young winner and one who may have been is Carlos Carrasco. A top-of-the-rotation pitcher in his own right, Cookie was a Cy Young candidate last season, finishing fourth in the American League voting. He could be Top 5 again this season. Yet, he almost seems like a forgotten man in his own starting five.
A long regular season will come to its conclusion this weekend as the Kansas City Royals host the Cleveland Indians in a four-game set from Kauffman Stadium.
The Indians (89-69) will look to get some players some rest and others a little bit of extra work as the team makes decisions on the makeup of the postseason roster while looking to head into the playoffs on a hot streak. A tough September has seen the Indians post just a 12-12 record as the team wrapped up the division early and has coasted through much of the season without a threat from the other four teams in the American League Central Division. With the exception of a 1-1 record in March, the Indians have played no worse than two games over .500 in any month of the season.
The Chicago White Sox used three runs in the ninth inning off of Carlos Carrasco to earn a 5-4 walk-off win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night from Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox saved all of their scoring for the first and the final innings of the night, using the two scoring punches to win their 62nd game of the season (against 95 losses). The comeback spoiled encouraging performances from Trevor Bauer and Carrasco, with the pair serving as the only Indians pitchers of record on the night as both worked towards establishing their roles for the playoffs.
The Cleveland Indians head back to the Windy City for the fourth time this season as they conclude their third road set in Chicago against the fourth place White Sox.
The Indians (87-68) have had a tough time in September, but they stepped up big against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend in a potential preview of the ALCS. The Indians needed extra inning heroics to win two out of three in the series, using eleventh inning hits by Michael Brantley and Greg Allen to claim victories. Cleveland has played well, as expected, against Chicago this season, taking 12 of the first 16 matchups while doubling up the Sox in the runs department, 86-43. The last time the clubs met a week ago, the Indians pulled out two more wins in the three games.
The 2018 season has not been kind to Jason Kipnis, as he has struggled in the field and at the plate, lost his starting second base job, and is quickly trying to acclimate himself again to the role of center fielder. But milestones have also filled his season and he added a most memorable one on Wednesday night, as in the bottom of the ninth inning his 1,000th career hit landed deep in the seats in right field for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Indians a 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox from downtown Cleveland.
With the bases full of Indians and one out against reliever Ian Hamilton, Kipnis fell behind in the count 1-2, worked the count back to full, and on the payoff pitch, jumped on a changeup dead red and blasted it to right. He leaned back and enjoyed his shot before a well-deserved trot around the bases and a home plate mobbing, complete with several Gatorade baths for the displaced veteran Kipnis and Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio host, Andre Knott, during the channel’s postgame interview.
The final homestand of the season continues for the Indians on Tuesday night as Cleveland hosts the Chicago White Sox in a three-game midweek set.
The Indians (83-66) continued their sleep walk through September, falling to 6-9 on the year after dropping two of three to Detroit over the weekend. While the team is winning at just a 40% clip in September, they still have managed to outscore the opposition by 12 runs. The Indians have lost or tied four of their five series in the month. They have defeated the White Sox ten times in 13 tries this season (outscoring them 73-34) with two series left in September.
Tampa’s Blake Snell made another impressive case in his bid for the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday afternoon as he shut down the Cleveland Indians with just one hit and one run allowed over seven innings in a 3-1 Rays win.
Still on the outskirts of the second AL Wild Card spot, the Rays got a big game from their left-handed ace, who took over the Major League lead in wins with his 19th of the year. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and left with a safe 3-1 lead, with his bullpen taking care of the final two frames to wrap up a disappointing 3-4 road trip for the Tribe.