There was good news and bad news on Monday night as the Cleveland Indians made their long-awaited return home to Progressive Field after an eleven-game road trip and won in an exciting 5-4 finish on a sacrifice bunt turned walk-off error.
The start of a key four-game series between the leaders of the American League East and American League Central Divisions had all of the excitement that the playoff preview was expected to have. The Red Sox built an early lead, lost that lead, got it back with the aid of replay review in the middle innings, then lost that lead and the ball game in the final two innings, ultimately on a walk-off throwing error in the bottom of the ninth. The Indians, while losing their early 3-2 lead but gaining a needed win on the team above them in the AL playoff picture, also lost slugger Carlos Santana and reliever Andrew Miller to injuries.
With Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies in 12 innings, the Cleveland Indians will not face another National League opponent this season unless the ultimate goal – a return trip to the World Series – is met.
Their performance in interleague play this season makes the early end of that portion of the schedule a very good thing – the Indians were just 6-14 this year against senior circuit opponents, a stark contrast to last season’s 13-7 record against them in advance of their battle with the Chicago Cubs in late October.
The last interleague game resembled many of the games that preceded it, as the Indians were left with disappointment after Cody Allen blew the save in the top of the ninth inning and Charlie Blackmon hit his second homer in as many days off of Tribe pitching to give the Rockies the lead for good in the 12th as Cleveland dropped to 60-51 on the year.
What made the loss even more disappointing was that it wasted a third straight strong start on the mound from Trevor Bauer.
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 mark of a good team is being able to find new ways to win. The Cleveland Indians did that on Saturday night as, after giving up an early four-run lead, Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth to score Carlos Santana with the go-ahead run in a 5-4 Tribe win.
The Indians (57-45) pushed their winning streak to nine straight games with the highly unusual ending to a Corey Kluber start from the southside of Chicago. Coupled with a late loss by Kansas City against the Boston Red Sox, the Indians’ lead over the Royals in the American League Central has grown to three games.
Eight impressive innings from Trevor Bauer and a late RBI-base knock by Francisco Lindor gave the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon as the Tribe won its seventh straight decision in a perfect homestand.
The end of July can be a stressful time for Major League Baseball players and that is true in Cleveland, where some have suggested that the Indians consider among their midseason upgrades an addition to their already-crowded starting rotation. But once again, another one of their existing starters stepped up in a big way to put even more pressure on the front office to look elsewhere for ways to improve the roster for the pennant push, while leaving plenty of questions about how manager Terry Francona and his staff will resolve the six-man rotation “problem”.
Eduardo Nunez singled through the pulled in Indians infield in the bottom of the tenth inning against Cleveland closer Cody Allen to give the San Francisco Giants a 2-1 walk-off win in extra innings from AT&T Park on Tuesday night.
The Indians’ inability to hit with runners in scoring position was once again an issue as they wasted a quality start from Mike Clevinger, who was stellar on the mound for the Tribe. The Indians blew an early one-run lead with a costly error in the fifth and were unable to mount any support for the pitching staff in the late innings as Giants starter Ty Blach and the San Francisco bullpen kept the Cleveland bats contained for much of the night.
The Cleveland Indians have entered into unfamiliar territory, and it was not just their once-a-year visit to one of the worst stadiums in use in Major League Baseball today in the Oakland Coliseum. The team’s losing streak hit four straight as Trevor Bauer was only able to retire two batters in a four-run first inning by the A’s as Oakland went on to complete the sweep over Cleveland with a 7-3 win.
The return of manager Terry Francona to the Indians dugout on Friday has not sparked new energy from the Tribe as they dropped their third straight to start the second half and fourth in a row overall in their longest losing skid since losing six straight from July 23-28, 2015.
Mike Clevinger and the Cleveland bullpen blanked the Detroit Tigers on four hits as the Indians completed their ninth shutout of the season with a 4-0 win on Saturday.
Fans at Progressive Field were treated to an old fashion pitchers’ duel for much of the game as Clevinger and Justin Verlander went toe-to-toe in a rematch of last Sunday’s game at Comerica Park. Verlander looked much more like his former Cy Young self than the pitcher that the Indians had seen in two of his first three outings against them this season, but Clevinger matched him pitch for pitch in another solid start against the Tigers by the young right-hander.
Both pitchers dealt with obstacles on the base paths, but both teams were able to work around potential big innings.
If Corey Kluber is on the mound for the Cleveland Indians, more often than not, the team should come away with a victory. That scenario is much harder to make a reality when the offense goes 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and strands seven men against the San Diego Padres, as was the case on Tuesday night as the Indians were blanked, 1-0, in front of a sold out crowd at Progressive Field.
Fans looking for early fireworks from the Tribe left disappointed as the offense could not find its way despite several opportunities across the night with interim manager Brad Mills once again calling the shots with manager Terry Francona down the street at the Cleveland Clinic as part of his continued evaluation for his recent physical ailments that have been bothering him.
For five innings, Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann resembled the pitcher that he was for years with the Washington Nationals. In the sixth inning, it all crumbled apart as Cleveland put up four runs to take the lead and Carlos Carrasco, Cody Allen, and Andrew Miller held that edge to the finish as the Indians took Saturday’s second game in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.
The Indians had little to show through the first half of the nightcap with the Tigers, as the offense had been relatively quiet all day long, outside of a big inning in their 7-4 loss earlier in the day. Zimmermann had moved easily through the first five innings, facing two over the minimum while allowing just three base runners total. He walked Lonnie Chisenhall in the second, allowed a one-out single to Michael Brantley in the fourth, and plunked Carlos Santana in the fifth in retaliation for a hit batter by Carrasco the previous half inning, before erasing him on a double play ball.
With manager Terry Francona back in the dugout after missing Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons due to health issues, the Indians supported their starter with some rare runs at home.
Bauer set the Rangers down in order to start the night before his teammates gave him a lead to work with against tough right-hander Yu Darvish. Jason Kipnis reached on an error, coming in for a rest at second base. Francisco Lindor drove him home with a single to right to put Cleveland on top, 1-0. The Indians would eventually get runners on second and third with one out in the frame after a fielder’s choice by Brantley and a double by Edwin Encarnacion, but Brantley was thrown out at home on a ball off of the bat of Jose Ramirez before Lonnie Chisenhall struck out swinging.
Rarely are games on back-to-back nights the same, which is what can make baseball fun. Things were not fun for the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night, however, as one night after plating 15 in an incredible comeback win, they mustered just one run and lost the game on a solo homer in the ninth inning off of one of the best relievers in their bullpen.
Acting manager Brad Mills went to the closer, Cody Allen, with the game tied in the ninth inning after using Bryan Shaw and Andrew Miller in the previous two innings to keep it the contest knotted at one.
After striking out Shin-Soo Choo looking on a 3-2 pitch and getting Elvis Andrus to line deep to center, the veteran slugger Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate and swung on a first pitch fastball up and in, depositing his 450th career home run into the bleachers in left to put the Rangers up, 2-1. It marked the second time in four days that an opposing club has broken a tie ball game late with a solo blast off of Allen.