For seven innings, the Cleveland Indians pitching staff performed just as they had over the last year and a half, riding strong starting pitching before turning the game over to the reliable arms in the bullpen.
Unfortunately for the Indians, this is 2018 and that reliable relief corps has been anything but. With six outs to go, the Houston Astros rallied back from a 2-0 deficit through seven innings with a four-run eighth and then tacked on seven more runs in the ninth to embarrass the Indians, 11-2, at Progressive Field on Friday night.
The wacky baseball schedulers are at it again this weekend, as one week after playing their first games against one another for the season, the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros will reunite Thursday through Sunday for the final four games of their regular season matchups.
The Indians (24-23) return home after another tough rough trip. With a pair of wins at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs, the team went 4-4 in the eight-game trip after starting off with a pair of 1-2 defeats against the Detroit Tigers and the Astros. Starting pitching has continued to carry the Tribe as far as it can go, but the offense has proven to be inconsistent and the bullpen has still allowed runs to sneak across the plate in the latter innings of contests. They come into the series with Houston with just a 9-11 mark in the month of May while holding a two-game lead in the AL Central.
After taking an early three-run lead and adding on a little insurance in the middle innings, Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians bullpen survived a home run barrage from the Houston Astros in a 5-4 win on Saturday afternoon from Minute Maid Park.
In a tough stretch of games for the Indians (22-22), they got a much-needed win to pull back to the .500 mark on the year. They rode some early offensive support and the strong right arm of Kluber, but had to cling to the edge of their seats in the final few innings.
If the playoffs were to start today (just past the quarter pole of the actual 2018 season schedule), the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros would be first round opponents in the American League Division Series.
Cleveland (21-21) kicked off a three-city, eight-game road trip in Detroit earlier in the week, taking a pair of bad losses before salvaging the finale behind a stellar start from Trevor Bauer on Wednesday. The bullpen was once again in the spotlight, unable to prevent runs from crossing in the series. Their series with the Astros will be a big test, as they will hope that their starting three for the game will be able to do what they have done for most of the season and pitch deep into the ball game to avoid facing relying on the unstable bullpen’s results. The Tribe comes into the weekend with a game and a half lead over Detroit (20-23) in the American League Central Division.
For the second time this season, Corey Kluber was given double-digit run support and big days throughout the lineup paced the Cleveland Indians to an easy 11-2 win on Mother’s Day over the Kansas City Royals.
Kluber has not always gotten the best run support on the mound, but of late, his teammates have swung the bat well in his defense. In five of his last six starts, the team has scored six runs or more in his starts. Not surprisingly, he has gone 5-1 in those outings while giving up a combined total of 13 earned runs. The Tribe’s ace, on the way to his league leading sixth win on Sunday, got the support early and was able to contain the Royals to just two unearned runs in the later innings.
Plenty could be written about the unpredictable and unusual schedule that the Cleveland Indians have this season. With that said, the Indians return home after a short five-game road trip for three games with the Kansas City Royals before jetting right back out of town for a much longer road trip than the recently completed one.
The Indians (18-18) salvaged an ugly road trip by taking the finale in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon after losing a close contest on Tuesday night. Cleveland began its brief five-game roadie with three straight losses to the New York Yankees. It continued a down May for the club, as they have gone just 3-6 after ending April three games up in the win column. Despite the downward trend in play, they have remained atop the American League Central Division, holding a game and a half lead over Minnesota. The Indians took two of three from Kansas City in a previous series at Progressive Field this year in a low-scoring set that saw the two clubs combine to score just ten runs in the three contests.
Each team hit a pair of home runs, but it would be a blast from an unlikely source for the Brewers off of Cleveland’s Corey Kluber that would prove to be the difference in a 3-2 Indians loss in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
The Indians’ road woes worsened in the first game of two in a quick series from Miller Park against the Brewers. Cleveland (17-18) dropped its fourth game of the trip and fourth in a row, a season-high losing skid to drop the team back below the .500 mark and just a half game ahead of the charging Minnesota Twins in the American League Central Division.
The Indians will return to their one-time home of Miller Park (three games in 2007) this week for a two-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. It will mark the first time the two clubs have met since 2015 and just the seventh time since the Brewers moved from the American League Central Division to the National League Central, turning the once-time rivalry into a sporadic interleague series.
The Indians (17-17) started their brief five-game road trip on the worst note, getting swept in the New York by the Yankees. To their credit, the Yankees have dismantled a handful of playoff caliber teams during their 14-1 tear through the American League in the last several weeks, as they have also beaten up on the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota Twins, and Toronto Blue Jays in that stretch. Cleveland found some ways to lose over the weekend, as their bullpen has been fully exploited for the world to see. The offense has contributed, in bunches, of late but could not create any lead big enough that the Yankees could not prevail, especially with a bullpen now ranked second-to-last in the AL in ERA (5.51) and strikeouts (96) and third-to-last in holds (10).
It was a happy Kluber Day in downtown Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon, but the highlight of the game was not Indians starter Corey Kluber, but instead was a steady fireworks display created by five home runs in a 12-4 rout of the Texas Rangers.
Edwin Encarnacion celebrated a beautiful day at Progressive Field with three home runs while driving in half of the Tribe’s run production for their ace, who needed far less support to take home his fifth straight win on the mound. Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor added shots of their own as the offense erupted for a dozen runs to take the series from the Rangers.
The Indians will look to get back on the right track with a different American League West opponent this week as the Texas Rangers come to Cleveland for their only appearance at Progressive Field this season (weather permitting, of course).
Things did not go well for the Indians (14-12) during their weekend set against the Seattle Mariners as they dropped three of four games to move to just 8-6 at home on the year and 2-4 on their current 11-game homestand. Seeing the struggling Rangers may be well timed for the Tribe, especially with warmer weather parking itself over Cleveland just in time for the series. Last season, the Indians went 6-1 against the Rangers, losing just one tough 2-1 outing on a ninth inning run off of Cody Allen at Progressive Field.
A debatable call on a 1-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth inning cost Corey Kluber a complete game, but after a little extra scoring from Seattle, Cody Allen closed out a 6-5 Indians win over the Mariners on Friday night from downtown Cleveland.
In a game dominated by Kluber and a power-packed offensive punch from start to nearly finish, the final score did not reflect what was largely an easy win for the Tribe. Instead, the one-run contest became the fifth straight game between the Indians and Mariners to be decided by a minute margin.
The Indians will continue their eleven-game homestand on Thursday as the Seattle Mariners make their lone visit to Cleveland for the 2018 season in a four-game weekend series. The contests will mark the final times the two clubs will play this year and all before the first full month of the regular season playing schedule concludes.
The Indians (13-9) split a pair of interleague games during the week with the Chicago Cubs in a rematch of sorts of the 2016 World Series to kick off their second homestand of the month. The Tribe have played well at home this season, posting a 7-3 mark this April, but they are just 2-4 so far this season against the American League West, with seven games against the division during their current eleven-games-in-ten-days homestand. The Indians enter the day with a three game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.