The Indians spoiled the final regular season start in Cleveland for longtime Tribe southpaw CC Sabathia and claimed another big series win over a playoff caliber opponent on Saturday afternoon with an 8-4 win over the New York Yankees.
Playing in his 19th and final Major League season, the Sabathia farewell tour made its stop in Cleveland with a big milestone on the line for the left-hander. Looking for his 250th career win in his last Progressive Field start (his home for eight big league seasons), Sabathia was good in the early going, but ran into trouble late and was bested by Adam Plutko, who was called up from Triple-A Columbus for a spot start for the Tribe.
The CC Sabathia farewell tour is bearing full steam ahead, and after his start Tuesday, has reached another milestone.
Sabathia is breathing some rare air after becoming the 17th major league pitcher – but just the third lefty – with at least 3,000 strikeouts. The first 1,265 came in an Indians uniform, still good for sixth all-time on the team’s career list.
Major League Baseball will kick off the 2019 season with its earliest start ever (excluding international openers) as all 30 teams will take the field on March 28. Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 52 days
The emergence of Tribe right-hander Mike Clevinger, the current wearer of the number 52 in Cleveland, as a solid middle of the rotation arm and a sleeper Cy Young pick for the coming season was one of many reasons why the Indians were comfortable listening to offers for front end starters like Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer during the offseason.
While the team (thus far) has elected to move forward with the present starting rotation intact, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The starting staff has been one of the stronger parts of the club and if the team did not feel that an offer on the table for one of its primo pitchers was good enough to help supplement a weakened offense (due to free agency and significant salary cuts that led to offseason trades of Yonder Alonso, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yan Gomes, among others) and a thinned out bullpen (which waved goodbye to closer Cody Allen and two-time All-Star Andrew Miller), it was best for now to keep that portion of the team full of necessary depth.
The Cleveland Indians play their first postseason game since 2001, welcoming in the New York Yankees for Game 1 of the American League Division Series. They play the ungracious host, as a three-run first and a five-run fifth inning lead the way to an easy 12-3 victory.
While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 52 days
The number 52 has had a good run in Indians history, despite its late start appearing on the field.
Tuesday night, the National Basketball Association opens its 2017-18 regular season schedule as the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Boston Celtics in a game that has much more meaning than the usual opening night game.
The Cavs and Celtics have become rivals over the course of the last few years, with Cleveland knocking Boston out of the playoffs twice in the last three seasons. The two clubs went toe-to-toe in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, with the Cavs winning that series, four games to one, to send Cleveland to its third straight NBA Finals. As many remember, that trip did not end nearly as well as the previous season, when the Cavs gave the city of Cleveland its first championship since 1964 with the first title in franchise history, leaving the Indians as holders of the longest active championship drought in the city.
While the Cavs will begin their defense of three straight Eastern Conference titles, the game’s real emphasis will be on the return of star guard Kyrie Irving to Quicken Loans Arena, where the former first overall pick in 2011 spent the first six years of his NBA career in Cavs’ wine and gold before demanding a trade in the offseason. The Cavs front office honored that request, sending its second-best player to a rival club, but may have, possibly, become a more well-rounded club in the process. That remains to be seen, as the results will play out over the course of the largely meaningless 82-game NBA schedule over the next six months.
In 2007, CC Sabathia was on the mound for Cleveland in the postseason at the tail end of a Cy Young Award winning year for the Indians as he became the second Tribe pitcher to ever bring home the top pitching award of a season. Seven years later, Corey Kluber joined him on that short list when he became the fourth Indians hurler to be recognized as the American League’s top pitcher.
On Friday night, the two will square off from opposite sides in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Starting pitcher Cliff Lee takes home the American League Cy Young Award after his 22-3 season for the Indians in 2008. Cleveland has now won back-to-back Cys after ending a drought dating back to 1972.
The Indians lefty earned 24 …
The Cleveland Indians play their first postseason game since 2001, welcoming in the New York Yankees for Game 1 of the American League Division Series. They play the ungracious host, as a three-run first and a five-run fifth inning lead …
Kluber joined the ranks of recent Indians’ greats CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee as pitchers worthy of the highest acknowledgment of pitching prowess. Looking further back, he also joins Gaylord Perry in the club of Cleveland Indians pitchers to win Cy Young awards since the award’s inception in 1956. The Cy Young was originally given to the best pitcher in all of baseball, but is now given to the best pitcher in each respective league.
The then-27-year-old Sabathia’s fantastic efforts on the mound helped to lead the Indians deep into the playoffs in what was one of the club’s best opportunities to make and win a World Series. The devastating American League Championship Series collapse against the Terry Francona-led Boston Red Sox ended the dream prematurely.
When Sabathia was announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the American League Cy Young winner on November 13th, 2007, it gave the team its first winner in 35 years, when Gaylord Perry took home the honor with a 24-6 record and a 1.92 ERA in 1972. Sabathia became just the second Indians pitcher to win the award since it was first established in 1956 in honor of the pitching legend Young, who spent 12 of his 22 years representing the city of Cleveland on the baseball diamond.
It’s a tale the Indians know all too well: a once dominant and promising team comes off a season of highs and enters into a season struggling to stay afloat. It’s happened this year, and it has happened before, all too recently.
Do you remember 2008? CC Sabathia was the reigning Cy Young Award winner and beginning his final contract year with the Indians under manager Eric Wedge. The Indians were coming off their playoff run of 2007 and, as the 2008 season got underway, the team was off to quite a rocky start. When they reached a record of 37-51, it became fairly obvious that the strong players on the roster, such as Sabathia, would not be sticking around much longer once their contracts were up. Mark Shapiro began the task of taking those stronger assets and selling them where he could in order to maximize their worth to the team. Sabathia was not performing up to expectations of seasons past, as he was 6-8 and posting a 3.83 ERA when he was traded in July of 2008 to the Milwaukee Brewers.