There are some great pitchers from before 1959 who will never be able to be judged in history by the number of Cy Young Awards they have won. That is the year the now-prestigious award came into being.
From that season, on, pitching icons have been defined by, and doors to baseball’s Hall of Fame have been opened, by winning that piece of hardware. Those who have won the trophy multiple times have earned a special place in pitching lore. If a hurler can distinguish himself among his peers over multiple seasons, he must truly be great.
Roger Clemens won baseball’s top pitching prize a record seven times. He would be enshrined in Cooperstown if not for getting entangled in the steroid mess that has stained the careers of may players from the 1990s and early 2000s. Randy Johnson won the Cy five times, while Greg Maddux and Steve Carlton earned it four times each. All three players are in the Hall of Fame. Pedro Martinez, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer and Sandy Koufax won the trophy three times – ditto on the Hall.
For the second time in four seasons, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber has been selected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the American League’s Cy Young Award winner.
The second time might not have been quite as sweet for Kluber, but it came with far less drama than the first time that he won the award in a tight contest with Seattle’s Felix Hernandez in 2014, decided by ten points. Unfortunately for Kluber and his Tribe teammates, much like the season when the Cleveland ace won his first award, the Indians spent the bulk of October as spectators of baseball instead of playing for a championship.
While the Indians did not get to play as deep into October as fans may have hoped, the efforts of the Cleveland players have been recognized numerous times during the annual November award season in Major League Baseball.
Friday marked just such a night as free agent Carlos Santana was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year among all Major League first basemen.
This story serves more as a placeholder than anything, as 166 game stories have filled the space before it to recap the events that transpired. Since visitors to Did the Tribe Win Last Night want to read it just about as badly as I want to write it, it will be a condensed recap at best.
The Indians were eliminated in Game 5 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday night in a disappointing 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees. The Evil Empire advances to the American League Championship Series, where it will play the host Houston Astros for a shot at the American League pennant and a chance to appear in the World Series.
It doesn’t get much more exciting than a closeout game in the playoffs, but one thing is for certain – it does horrible work on the heart, the mind, and the stomach, especially if you’re a fan of the team that lost a 2-0 lead.
The Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees will play one final game on Wednesday night to declare a winner in their American League Division Series matchup, one that has teetered in favor of the home club throughout the first four games. To the benefit of the Indians, they have returned to their home at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland, hoping to defend their home turf and, more importantly, their title as the reigning champions of the American League while punching their ticket to an American League Championship Series meeting with the Houston Astros. The Tribe has not lost three consecutive games since the start of the second half of the season, when it lost four straight wrapped around the All-Star break.
Things have not gone the way that Yan Gomes would have wanted them to over the last couple of years. Signed to a big contract extension in 2014, he has struggled with his performance at the plate, dealt with several injuries, and watched as his playing time has dwindled into a time share with fellow backstop Roberto Perez. Late season injuries deprived him of a significant role for the Indians in their incredible run through the postseason in 2016, as he appeared solely in the World Series and was 0-for-4, grounding into a double play and striking out twice.
He made sure his first start of the 2017 playoffs was one that he and Indians fans everywhere will not soon forget. His 13th inning walk-off single down the left field line capped six unanswered runs by the Indians as they completed an improbable comeback win over the New York Yankees to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series Friday night.
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.
The wait has been excruciating, but that wait is now over. After a long three days off, the Cleveland Indians will return to the playing field on Thursday night as they host the American League Wild Card play-in game winners, the New York Yankees, in Game 1 of a best-of-five series in the American League Division Series.
The Indians (102-60) earned the right to play the home team, not only in the ALDS, but in the ALCS and in the World Series against all teams not named the Los Angeles Dodgers, after an incredible run through the final 100 games of the regular season schedule. Much is focused on the modern day record winning streak of 22 games that the team put together from the end of August into the middle of September, but the team went 71-29 in those final 100 games after a 31-31 start to the season. The Indians used impressive starting pitching, an offense that became more and more consistent and lethal as the season progressed, and a bullpen that found surprise contributions and survived several absences from one of its top arms, Andrew Miller.
The Indians won five of seven against the Yankees this season.
Tell me if you have heard this one before. On Monday afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that Corey Kluber had been named the Pitcher of the Month for his outstanding work on the mound.
Another strong effort on the mound from Kluber in September earned him his third award of the year (see also: June, August). The last player to win three Pitcher of the Month awards in one season was Houston’s Dallas Keuchel in 2015. He won his only career Cy Young Award that season.
Maybe, just maybe, the third time will be the charm for Kluber as well, in regards to his pursuits of a second career Cy Young nod.
The Cleveland bats went cold on Saturday night, just hours after the club received word that the Boston Red Sox had defeated the Houston Astros at Fenway Park, clinching home field advantage in the American League Championship Series for the Indians. The White Sox limited the Tribe to just three hits afterwards to earn a 2-1 victory.
The loss for the Indians (101-60) eliminated them from contention for the top record in Major League Baseball and a chance to claim home field in the World Series. As it stands, if the Tribe can reach the Fall Classic for a second consecutive season and for the seventh time in franchise history, the city would be host to any National League opponent with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It’s hard to believe that earlier this week, northeast Ohio was dealing with 90 degree temperatures while leaves were beginning their descent back to earth. Now, the weather has fallen back to more fall-like levels, which seems much more fitting for the Indians’ season finale with the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians (100-59) have had to deal with losses a bit more in the last week, taking a loss last Friday in Seattle and another on Tuesday against Minnesota. It marked the first time the team had lost twice in the matter of a week since the final week of August, further recognition of the incredible run that the team has been on. The Indians offense has continued to contribute at high levels, while the pitching staff has fired on nearly every cylinder. If anything could strike as a concern, it might be the backend of the bullpen, which was on the mound and responsible for each of the team’s last two losses. Still, a 31-3 mark in their last 34 games is nothing to scoff at.
With a playoff spot already locked up, the Indians control their AL playoff destiny. With Houston playing Boston this weekend, the Astros have a much tougher road to pass the Indians to claim home field. Both teams have earned the opportunity to host their American League Division Series matchups, but any combination of Indians wins and Astros losses equaling two this weekend will grant Cleveland home field for the entire AL playoff bracket. The Tribe’s chances for the overall best record in baseball is much more difficult, as they will need the Dodgers to lose all three of their games this weekend while sweeping the White Sox at the same time.