The last road trip for the Cleveland Indians did not go quite as planned, so the team may be welcoming a brief stay at Progressive Field over the next six days as the club hosts the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays.
It will be a big weekend for the Indians (18-15) if they hope to put a little distance between themselves and the Twins (17-14), who are off to a strong start to their season after a disappointing 59-103 showing a year ago.
While the Indians are coming off of a frustrating 4-5 road set through Detroit, Kansas City, and Toronto while the offense struggled to get going until the final days of the trip, the Twins have figured it out at the plate. Since a disasterous mid-April homestand, one that included a three-game sweep by the Indians, the Twins have won four of their last five series overall. They took two from the Chicago White Sox during the week, winning 7-2 on Tuesday and 7-6 on Thursday around a rainout in the middle game of the set.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon three roster moves pertaining to the team’s 40-man roster for the 2017 season.
The team added a pair of left-handed pitchers to their arsenal for next season by claiming starter Tim Cooney from the St. Louis Cardinals and pitcher Edwin Escobar from the Arizona Diamondbacks off of waivers.
In a corresponding roster move, the Indians have outrighted catcher Chris Gimenez off of the 40-man roster.
One of the biggest problems that has plagued the Cleveland Indians all season long had been the performances of their catchers – not behind the plate, but at the plate.
It was such a concern that the Indians put together a package of prospects and acquired Milwaukee backstop Jonathan Lucroy the day before the non-waiver trade deadline just over a month ago…until the National League All-Star vetoed the deal for future financial reasons.
Step up to the plate.
They have very quietly done just that.
Sometimes, a change of scenery can be a good thing, but for the Indians on Monday, it was a return to home sweet home that did the trick as Jason Kipnis sent the team home victorious in ten innings with his walk-off single to the gap in left-center to give Cleveland a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.
After the Twins put up 37 runs while taking three of four from the Indians at Progressive Field to open the month, the zero put up by Trevor Bauer and the Cleveland bullpen was a welcomed sight. The offense, however, continued to struggle as they put up one run or less for the seventh time in the last eight games. Twice in that span, the Indians have made that one run stand up.
Both teams had an abundance of base runners all game long, but through nine innings, not a one had crossed home plate successfully. In the bottom of the tenth, the Indians ended 19 half-innings of drought between the two clubs with a bunt, several failed bunts, a replay, and a game-winner.
While some of you were sleeping, the Cleveland Indians’ bats were doing the same as Danny Salazar was tagged early and Oakland poured it on in a 9-1 Athletics win on Tuesday night.
The Indians offense managed just one run for the second straight night, but the bigger storyline was Salazar and his inability to command his pitches and the strike zone. In his second start since returning from the disabled list, he looked…better…marginally…compared to the first start, as he lasted longer in the game while it looked like the Cleveland coaching staff was going to force him to figure out his problems on the mound. Meanwhile, the batting order struggled against Oakland’s rookie left-hander Sean Manaea.
Oakland scored in the first with three runs riding a long ball to right field. Coco Crisp grounded out before Jake Smolinski singled to center. Danny Valencia singled to right, setting the stage for Khris Davis’ 33rd homer of the season. He had struck out in each of his last six at bats, including four times in the A’s loss to Cleveland on Monday.
When Chris Gimenez was signed by the Indians and added to the roster in May, he was expected to be a backup catcher – the catcher who plays every so often, only needed to give the starter (in this case, Yan Gomes) an occasional rest. He only needed to be average at the plate and behind the dish, exactly like the guy he was replacing, Roberto Perez, who managed exactly eight at bats in April.
However, Gimenez soon became much more than that. He developed into Trevor Bauer’s personal catcher, suiting up every fifth day. And with Gomes’s April slump extending into May and June, he was penciled into the starting lineup more and more, but still at irregular intervals. By the time Perez hastily returned from injury due to an injury to Gomes, Gimenez had appeared in 34 of the Tribe’s 69 games (49%), with 23 of those times being starts (33%).
It seems to be a theme in Cleveland sports that a former player for the city comes back and enacts his revenge after departing. On Saturday, Mike Clevinger got to do that exact same thing to the Los Angeles Angels, the team that drafted him in 2011 and dealt him to the Indians in 2014, as the rookie right-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and earned his first win as he and four relievers combined on a one-hitter to defeat the Halos, 5-1.
It was a story that could not have been scripted much better for Clevinger, who has had a fairy tale season in 2016. He earned his first Major League win with his best start to date, limiting the Angels to one hit over five and two-thirds innings while enduring a strike zone that appeared to pinch him all night long.
His Tribe teammates supported him well, giving him an early three-run cushion to work with against a starter who had dominated the Indians in each of his first three career starts against them.
Josh Tomlin, usually a stopper for the Indians’ rotation, could not bring an end to the bad string of starting efforts from the pitching staff as he gave up seven runs and could not clear the fifth as the New York Yankees defeated Cleveland by a 13-7 final on Friday night.
The win for the Bronx Bombers (55-54) pushed the club back over the .500 mark and improved their mark this season against the Tribe to 4-1 after taking three of four from a series a month ago at Progressive Field. The Indians (61-46) have now dropped four of their last five games and fell to 30-26 on the road, still one of the best marks in the American League this season.
As expected, the Cleveland Indians announced on Monday afternoon that catcher Yan Gomes had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with what has been diagnosed as a right shoulder separation, an injury to the AC joint in the shoulder. He is expected to miss four to eight weeks while recovering, but no surgery appears needed.
Roberto Perez was brought back early from his rehab assignment and has joined the team in Kansas City prior to the start of the Indians’ three-game series with the Royals this week.
Gomes was injured in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game in Minnesota against the Twins. After hitting a ground ball to third base, first baseman Kennys Vargas had to swipe a tag at Gomes after the throw from third was off line. Gomes landed awkwardly on his swiped left leg, appearing to slightly hyperextend his left knee, before being thrown off balance and landing hard on his right shoulder. The Indians’ struggling starting catcher grabbed at his knee briefly before the focus of attention turned to his right shoulder. His arm was placed in a sling before he left the playing field on a cart.
Sometimes with the good, there comes some bad. The Cleveland Indians got a good start, good run support, and a good series win over the pesky Minnesota Twins in Sunday’s win, but they also lost starting catcher Yan Gomes with what appeared to be a significant shoulder injury following a close play at first base.
Despite his clear offensive struggles at the plate this season, few question Gomes’ abilities behind the plate in regards to his defensive work, pitch framing, and game calling. He has been the catcher of preference for the starting rotation and has been an uncredited reason for the staff’s continued success over the last few seasons.
Gomes was at the plate in the top of the fifth inning with one out against Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson in a 1-0 game. After doubling in his first at bat to end an 0-for-27 slide at the plate, Gomes grounded to third. Running hard, Gomes was tagged in the leg by first baseman Kennys Vargas on the wide throw from third. Gomes landed awkwardly on the bag, appearing to slightly hyperextend his left knee, before sprawling to the ground and landing hard on his right throwing shoulder. He laid on the ground holding the knee briefly before the training staff’s focus turned to the shoulder. He was placed in a sling and left the field on a cart for x-rays. He was returning to Cleveland immediately, not accompanying the team to Kansas City, and was expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday.
On a second long road trip and over the course of a 162- game season, every team will have a bad day. Sunday was that day for the Cleveland Indians as they were leveled by the Toronto Blue Jays, 17-1, to wrap up their ten-game road trip.
Corey Kluber started for the Tribe, but was unable to make it through four innings as the Blue Jays jumped out to five early runs to chase the Cleveland starter. With the game in the hands of the heavily used bullpen during the four-game set with Toronto, things grew ugly quickly while the Indians had no answer for the Jays starter, J.A. Happ.
Perez had only appeared in four games the entire first month of the season as built-in off days and rain outs gave Gomes ample time off and he did not need many nights of rest. That was about to change in May and the Tribe did not have anyone in the organization it truly felt capable of handling the secondary backstop duties.
Cleveland turned to old friend. With Perez headed to the 60-day disabled list, the Indians acquired Chris Gimenez from the Texas Rangers. Gimenez, a journeyman catcher in his seventh Major League season, was going to begin his third go-round with Cleveland.