It is rarely a good sign when the opposing team has more homers than you have total hits, and that was the case for the Indians on Friday afternoon as the Houston Astros hit four long balls on the way to a 7-2 victory over Cleveland in Game 1 of the American League Division Series from Minute Maid Park.
The Indians offense just could not get going in a tough matchup with a familiar foe, Justin Verlander, who looked to help lead the Astros back to the World Series for the second straight season. He got the club off to a good start by starting the game with five no-hit innings and the Tribe mustered just three base hits throughout the day against Verlander and three pitchers out of the Houston ‘pen to fall behind a game in the best-of-5 series.
For the third season in a row, there will be meaningful October baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization. The American League Division Series will kick off Friday afternoon from Minute Maid Park where the Houston Astros will play host in their quest for a second straight World Series title.
For the Indians (91-71), it was an underwhelming season in an easy division as the American League Central crown was nearly awarded them in spring training. While the cakewalk schedule may have led to mixed results throughout the season, the offense still wowed with the third-most runs scored in the game (818, trailing only Boston and New York) while the team put up a strong +170 run differential. The bats struck out the fewest times in baseball and on the base paths the team picked off 135 bases to lead the Majors. The Indians play with extra motivation, looking to make up for their disappointing first round exit after losing a 2-0 lead a season ago in the ALDS against the New York Yankees.
The Cleveland Indians lost an inconsequential game on Saturday night, but could have lost much more after an injury to Yan Gomes led to several stitches. As for the game results, Andrew Miller allowed a three-run home run in a four-run sixth and Cody Allen gave up two more the next frame as the Indians dropped a 9-4 decision in Kansas City with the Royals.
While manager Terry Francona looked to get his players prepped for postseason work next Friday against the Houston Astros, things did not go as planned. Corey Kluber exited early as planned after allowing three runs in five innings, but the bullpen struggled with six runs allowed from two of their workhorses in the latter innings. Far more concerning, however, was the injury to All-Star catcher Gomes, who left the game in the third after hitting his throwing hand on the bat of Alex Gordon.
A long regular season will come to its conclusion this weekend as the Kansas City Royals host the Cleveland Indians in a four-game set from Kauffman Stadium.
The Indians (89-69) will look to get some players some rest and others a little bit of extra work as the team makes decisions on the makeup of the postseason roster while looking to head into the playoffs on a hot streak. A tough September has seen the Indians post just a 12-12 record as the team wrapped up the division early and has coasted through much of the season without a threat from the other four teams in the American League Central Division. With the exception of a 1-1 record in March, the Indians have played no worse than two games over .500 in any month of the season.
Corey Kluber pitched seven innings of shutout, four-hit baseball, and the offense used four late runs to back their starter to his 20th win of the season and the team’s 17th shutout of the campaign in a 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
The reigning Cy Young winner pitched nearly stress-free baseball from the southside of Chicago in the series opener with the White Sox, despite slow moving run support. Kluber worked seven shutout frames, striking out eleven batters and walking just one to go with the four hits that he surrendered to win 20 games for the first time in his career while becoming the first Indians pitcher to do so since Cliff Lee won 22 in 2008. The offense awoke with a pair of homers late and used three runs in the ninth inning to pad what was at the time a one-run advantage. In a flashback to better bullpen days, both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen worked perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts to wrap up the evening with 17 straight White Sox batters retired by the Tribe pitching staff.
The Cleveland Indians head back to the Windy City for the fourth time this season as they conclude their third road set in Chicago against the fourth place White Sox.
The Indians (87-68) have had a tough time in September, but they stepped up big against the Boston Red Sox over the weekend in a potential preview of the ALCS. The Indians needed extra inning heroics to win two out of three in the series, using eleventh inning hits by Michael Brantley and Greg Allen to claim victories. Cleveland has played well, as expected, against Chicago this season, taking 12 of the first 16 matchups while doubling up the Sox in the runs department, 86-43. The last time the clubs met a week ago, the Indians pulled out two more wins in the three games.
Monday starts the final week of regular season baseball. For the Indians, it will be the final week in which the games have no importance, record-wise.
With a third straight American League Central Division title sewn up more than a week ago, the only thing that the Indians have had left to play for is pride and getting themselves set up for what they hope will be a long playoff run. That latter part has been big. The team, over the last week and over this coming week, will be looking to get players rested, get other players healthy, and get everyone geared up and ready to go for October baseball.
Eight strong innings from Corey Kluber and a three-run fifth powered the Cleveland Indians to a 5-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night from Progressive Field.
Pitcher wins have been devalued some in recent years, but that takes little away from Kluber’s effort on Tuesday, which secured him a career-best 19th victory on the year. He struck out eleven batters, his highest single-game K mark since April 9 (when he struck out 13 Tigers in his third start of the year). He ran into a brief bump in the road in the sixth inning, when the White Sox hit a pair of homers, but he otherwise contained the young and aggressive White Sox in his longest start since his August 4 shutout of the Los Angeles Angels.
The final homestand of the season continues for the Indians on Tuesday night as Cleveland hosts the Chicago White Sox in a three-game midweek set.
The Indians (83-66) continued their sleep walk through September, falling to 6-9 on the year after dropping two of three to Detroit over the weekend. While the team is winning at just a 40% clip in September, they still have managed to outscore the opposition by 12 runs. The Indians have lost or tied four of their five series in the month. They have defeated the White Sox ten times in 13 tries this season (outscoring them 73-34) with two series left in September.
With a runner at second base and two down in a one-run game against Neil Ramirez in the seventh, Ji-Man Choi blasted a 3-2 two-seamer deep to right, but hooked it foul before dropping the bat at the plate in frustration. He lofted the next pitch to center to end the inning.
He got to drop the bat again in the bottom of the ninth, but after carrying it nearly all the way to first base before beginning a slow and animated trot around the bases as his two-out, two-run home run off of Indians closer Brad Hand gave the Tampa Bay Rays a shocking 6-5 walk-off win from St. Petersburg.