The Kansas City Royals got to Danny Salazar for a career-worst 12 hits as the Cleveland Indians dropped the final game of their four-city, 11-game road trip, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon.
It was not the usual suspects in the Royals lineup who provided the bulk of the damage but instead, the bottom portion of the starting nine as Kansas City put up 15 hits in total and ended a long scoreless streak at the plate. Salazar struggled with his command, despite walking just one, but he allowed the dozen hits and a half-dozen runs in just four and two-thirds innings.
Before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, a good number of Cleveland Indians fans were clamoring for their favorite baseball team to trade for starting pitching.
For much of the season’s first three months, the Indians were mostly a two-man rotation. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco were throwing like the two-headed aces that they are. However, the rest of the starting five was not holding up its end and Cleveland’s starting pitching was largely a disappointment.
In mid-July, the question of just who the third starter would be if the Indians could get back to the playoffs for a second straight year was unsettled. Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin were struggling. Danny Salazar was similarly struggling and injured. Mike Clevinger was looking much better in his second big-league season, but leaning and depending on a guy who struggled as a rookie in 2016 and really only had pitched well in a handful of Major League games seemed like a stretch.
A lengthy eleven-game road trip has proven to be little problem for the Cleveland Indians as they return to Kauffman Stadium for a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals this weekend.
It will be a clash of the top two clubs in the American League Central, as the Royals (61-59) have slipped a half-game in front of the Minnesota Twins for the second spot in the division. After ignoring any urges to sell at the deadline, the Royals instead attempted to bulk up the roster, adding to the outfield, bullpen, and starting rotation. They have hung around the Wild Card race, trailing the second spot by a half game going into action on Friday, and have kept close enough in the AL Central to keep that divisional battle alive and well. A big weekend for the club could cut the gap significantly.
The Indians (66-53) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end on Thursday night, but the club is still riding a wave of strong performances on the road. After dropping the first game of their long roadie in Tampa, they won three straight from the Rays, took a one-game makeup date in Boston with the Red Sox, and defeated the Twins in the opener on Tuesday and in game one of a doubleheader on Thursday. The Indians will now look to expand on their divisional lead, currently sitting at five and a half games over the Royals.
The Indians hit their targets repeatedly at Target Field on Tuesday night as five home runs provided plenty of support for starter Danny Salazar in an 8-1 Home Run Derby rout of the Minnesota Twins.
In arguably its biggest road trip and most important series to date this season, Cleveland continued its dominance off of the shores of the Mississippi River as the Tribe bats were alive and well, guiding the Indians to a fifth straight victory in game number six of an eleven-game road trip. The demoralizing way in which they defeated the Twins in the series opener involved an effective balance of power hitting and power pitching as the Indians extended their lead in the American League Central Division to six games over the second place Twins.
The Indians have made Target Field their home away from home in 2017, as the club is now a perfect 8-0 in Minnesota this season.
Target Field will be the site of one of the biggest American League Central matchups of the season to date as the first place Cleveland Indians take on the second place Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (64-52) won their fourth straight game on their current eleven-game, four-city road trip with a 7-3 victory on Monday behind a quality start from Trevor Bauer and a pair of two-run homers from Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians’ starting rotation has been at the heart of the club’s second half success – the group of starters has won 50 games (first in the AL; tied for second in baseball), is third in the league in ERA at 4.01, and has struck out more batters (773) than any other Major League rotation.
Hitless in his last 21 at bats, a big slump did not stop Tampa Bays’ Corey Dickerson as his three-run eighth inning blast to straightaway center field was the difference on Thursday night as the Rays defeated the Cleveland Indians by a 4-1 final.
The Indians and Rays were tied at one heading into the final frames of the night when Tampa mounted its game-winning rally against Cleveland reliever Nick Goody. On in relief of Bryan Shaw after one and two-thirds innings of one-hit relief work, Goody struck out Brad Miller to start the inning before a single by Adeiny Hechavarria dropped in front of Abraham Almonte in left for a one-out hit. With Mallex Smith at the plate, Hechavarria stole second and moved up to third as the throw from Yan Gomes sailed off of the glove of shortstop Francisco Lindor, putting the go-ahead run at third base. Smith would twice pop up the ball in foul territory on bunt attempts, including a two-strike offering that recorded the second out of the inning. Jesus Sucre was plunked on the left arm by a pitch to put runners on the corners for Dickerson, who sent his first offering just over the glove of a leaping Bradley Zimmer in center field for the decisive three-run shot.
Year after year, the Tampa Bay Rays seem to find themselves with a light payroll, a young and overproducing roster, and a fight for a playoff berth. This season is no different, as despite a heavily contested battle atop the American League East, the Rays are lurking in the shadows of the American League’s Wild Card picture.
The Indians (60-51) will head to the Trop in St. Pete to take on the perennial playoff challenger, one who stood in the way for Cleveland in 2013, for a four-game series beginning Thursday night. The Tribe’s offense has stumbled in the last few games and the team found itself in a bit of a predicament at the plate, but, despite the woes, they were able to pick off a game during their two-game series split with the Colorado Rockies during the week to wrap up a 3-3 homestand. They split a four-game set with the New York Yankees last weekend.
Defense played a big role in the New York Yankees dropping each of the first two games of their series in Cleveland against the Indians. That same defense would come through in clutch time for the Yankees on Saturday night as several big plays in the ninth inning helped preserve a 2-1 victory over the Indians.
In a tight game that was well pitched on both sides of the ledger, the Yankees (58-51) would edge out a win to end their four-game losing streak. It also brought an end to a nine-game home winning streak by the Indians (59-49), who were dealt their first home loss of the second half.
Danny Salazar provided a second straight strong quality start for the Indians and the offense, led by three RBI and four runs in a four-hit game from Jose Ramirez, backed him up with plenty of support as Cleveland defeated the Chicago White Sox by a 9-3 final from Guaranteed Rate Field.
With contending teams desperately scouring the trade market for pricey upgrades to their starting rotations, the Indians may have found one sitting on the disabled list as Salazar once again contained an opposing offense in his second straight start since returned from a right shoulder strain. His teammates were able to do something that they had never done effectively with left-hander Derek Holland on the mound – run up the score.
It is amazing just how much things can change in a week. After opening the second half of the season with a bad west coast trip against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Indians returned to Cleveland with a 1-5 record after the All-Star break and questions swirled about what was wrong with the Tribe.
A 7-0 homestand quieted those concerns quickly as the Indians got back into the win column and finally played well and consistently at Progressive Field.
Toronto’s Marcus Stroman was good. Cleveland’s Danny Salazar was even better. Francisco Lindor? He got the party “rock ‘n'” as his solo blast deep to right through heavy raindrops gave the Indians a 2-1 walk-off victory on Saturday night from Progressive Field.
With fans anxious for a Tribe win and a sold out crowd present despite rain, heat, and humidity on the lake shore, Lindor gave a quick preview of the annual Rock ‘n’ Blast fireworks display scheduled for the evening as he stepped to the plate in the tenth against Blue Jays right-hander Danny Barnes. On the seventh pitch of the at bat and after fouling off four pitches, Lindor gave the Indians their first walk-off victory since the home opener against the Chicago White Sox with his first career game-ending shot.
The Cleveland Indians are stuck in their worst stretch of baseball in quite some time and have seen their lead shrink back down to a half-game in the American League Central Division. They will need to figure out how to get the offense going and will have to do so at Progressive Field this weekend, the same home that has been the site of struggles for the club all season long.
The Indians (48-45) come home to host the Toronto Blue Jays after a disappointing 1-5 west coast trip to start the second half of the regular season schedule. Losers of two straight and six of their last seven, the Tribe will need to put to bed their dismal 21-24 record at home. They are one of just two teams in all of baseball to post a record above the .500 mark for the year while having a sub-.500 mark on their home turf.