The Indians entered this week with postseason hopes still a reality. Then the team suffered back-to-back defeats at home that were disappointing on multiple levels.
A 12-3 trouncing at the hands of baseball’s best team, the Angels, followed by a 4-3 loss to one of the game’s worst in the Twins put the Tribe’s postseason hopes on life support. The Tigers or Royals will have to begin losing serious steam while the Indians get on a roll that they have not been on all season in order to see October baseball at this point.
Coming off their comeback win against the Twins Tuesday night, during a time when every game counts more than the last, the Indians sought to make it to two in a row as T.J. House took the mound against Ricky Nolasco. House and the rest of the Indians pitching staff combined to throw a six-hit shutout as the Tribe defeated the Twins, 5-0.
The Twins attempted to strike early with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the first, though the Tribe turned a double play to halt them in their tracks. Zach Walters put the Twins in their place with a solo home run in the top of the second, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second.
It’s a matchup the Orioles and the Indians could be seeing for the next decade.
In a matchup of young, starting pitchers trying to find their way at the big league level, Danny Salazar and Kevin Gausman matched up in an early pitcher’s duel. Neither pitcher was as sharp as they would like, but each gave solid efforts. It was Gausman, however, who only allowed a pair of hits to Cleveland and that helped pace the Orioles past the Tribe 4-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Gausman didn’t have an easy afternoon, despite allowing just two hits. He had to work around baserunners, courtesy of the four free passes he allowed. Salazar was much more accurate, the stronger Baltimore offense just found ways to get base hits. For most of the afternoon Salazar was able to work out of the jam until his effort—and the Tribe bullpen—fell apart in the sixth inning. The loss was another chance to make ground in the Wild Card race, but instead they lose ground in the divisional race.
Two former Indians’ starting pitchers took the mound Saturday night. One looked very recognizable while the other looked like something Tribe fans have never seen before.
After five years of trying to make Carlos Carrasco fit in the Indians rotation the Tribe jettisoned him to the bullpen in late April. But in their what could be his final chance, Carrasco shined brighter than he ever has, tossing seven shutout innings without allowing a walk. Cleveland used Carrasco’s potential coming-of-age start, along with home runs from Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley to take advantage of early wildness from Ubaldo Jimenez to defeat the Orioles 6-0, Saturday evening at Progressive Field.
Not only were fans treated to a true doubleheader – buy one ticket, see two games – Wednesday, but the twin bill finished with some bonus baseball.
But while Tribe starter Josh Tomlin and the Indians bullpen combined to give up one run to the Diamondbacks in 12 innings, the Indians offense couldn’t push one across as the Tribe lost 1-0 for the twin bill and series split. The Diamondbacks leave town and the Tribe has Thursday off before starting a three-game set against the Orioles.
It’s been a while, it’s been quite a while, actually.
But for the first time in over three years, Carlos Carrasco strode to the mound as a starting pitcher and won a game for the Cleveland Indians. After a season lost to Tommy John surgery and two season’s of failed starting attempts and a move to the bullpen, Carrasco looked his best when expectations may have been their lowest. With a rotation in shambles, the Indians turned back to Carrasco for what could be his last shot as a starter in the big leagues and he out-pitched the Yankees Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday afternoon, resulting in a 4-1 win for the Indians.
Carrasco’s surprising gem, combined with some small ball on Sunday gave the Indians a win in the three-game, weekend series against the Yankees. Jason Kipnis was the catalyst offensively, getting on base three time, and Jose Ramirez and Michael Brantley helped get him over and in. Kipnis scored three of the Indians’ four runs.
Finding good, Indians starting pitching has been tough this season.
The Indians found a good start from T.J. House, however, they didn’t support it with solid defense or timely hitting. Instead, Homer Bailey set down the Tribe while Cincinnati took advantage of defensive miscues and made the most of timely hitting to win 4-0. The victory gives the Reds a win in the four-game series this week and the Ohio Cup.
The Indians were held to just five hits by Bailey and the Reds. Meanwhile Cincinnati used three, two-out base hits to take control of the game. Cleveland’s defense struggled, like it has all year, but Cincinnati was able to use the speed of Billy Hamilton to make the Indians suffer when they created a mishap. The Indians had three errors in the game and a misplayed ball in the outfield that was not ruled an error.
Three out of four ain’t bad.
After taking the first three games in a four game series with Detroit, the Cleveland Indians were unable to complete the sweep on Sunday afternoon, losing 5-1. Josh Tomlin allowed a pair of runs early and then Detroit made the most of a pair of two-out rallies to steal the final game. Drew Smyly kept the Indians offense stymied for seven, strong innings and the Tiger bullpen held the Tribe quiet late.
Cleveland was trying to issue their first four-game sweep of the Tigers in Detroit in franchise history, but the offense that has been so timely and clutch in the late innings could not make the most of opportunities in the final game. The Tribe was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position on the afternoon.
It couldn’t have started much better for Zach McAllister and it couldn’t have turned worse much faster.
After striking out the side in the first inning on just 16 pitches, the Oakland Athletics hung eight runs on McAllister and the Tribe in the second inning. McAllister—the Indians best pitcher in April—could only record one more out in his final 38 pitches. Oakland was able to tally eight runs in the inning, courtesy of a grand slam and three-run home run. The Athletics cruised to an 11-1 victory in the opening game of the three game series Friday night.
Cleveland looked to be off to a good start in the first inning. After McAllister struck out the side in the top half of the inning, Nick Swisher hit a solo home run to stake the Indians to a 1-0 lead. Swisher’s third home run of the season was the most recent sign that the Tribe’s first baseman could be swinging his way out of his early season slump.
While the Indians may have used up all of their offense on Wednesday night, Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnacion had plenty left in his tank for Thursday’s rubber match at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays rode Encarnacion’s two homeruns and three RBI’s to a 4-2 victory over the Indians Thursday night.
Encarnacion did much of his damage off of Tribe starter Danny Salazar (1-4, 5.53), who brought his struggles north of the border and was hit with his fourth loss of the season. In contrast, the Blue Jays rode the effective left arm of J.A. Happ (2-1, 3.57) to victory.
The Blue Jays took the lead first with a pair of solo homeruns in the bottom of the second. First, Encarnacion led off the inning with his first homerun of the night to dead centerfield. Two batters later, third baseman Juan Francisco followed suit with an opposite field blast off of Salazar for a 2-0 advantage. For both sluggers, the homeruns marked their seventh round-trippers of the season.
Tampa Bay starter Erik Bedard had seen his once-promising career take a turn for the worse over the past few years, but Saturday night brought back flashes of his former brilliance. Bedard battled both Zach McAllister and the Indians batters on Saturday, as the Rays throttled the Indians by a score of 7-1.
The Indians (17-20) had won four in a row and six of their previous eight while the Rays (16-21) had lost four games in a row coming into Saturday. For the evening, however, none of that mattered as the Indians collected only three hits for the entire evening. The Rays hitters had a much different story.
With all of the turnover in the Cleveland Indians bullpen, there were plenty of questions about how the relief corps would look as the team entered the 2014 season.
The concerns were clearly elevated after losing two-fifths of the successful 2013 starting rotation in the offseason free agency period. Looming questions about the potential growth of Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister post-finger injuries, the development of young flame thrower Danny Salazar, the unknown potential of Carlos Carrasco, and Justin Masterson in a contract year all spelled the need for a strong bullpen to complement the rotation arms.
Gone were a pair of mainstays from the “Bullpen Mafia” of years’ past. Closer Chris Perez struggled through injuries and off the field concerns throughout 2013 and ultimately lost his role as the ninth inning shutdown pitcher as the team was racing towards the postseason. He was let go by the Tribe in late October. Late inning righty Joe Smith exited via free agency after a 6-2 record with three saves and a 2.29 ERA in 70 games for Cleveland, his third straight season of 70 games or more.