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.
Despite having four finalists in the hunt, the Cleveland Indians were denied a winner in the annual Rawlings Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday night.
Four of the American League’s 27 nominees for the 2017 awards came from the Indians roster, but as has been the case for much of the last decade, the Tribe did not have a player selected as the best at his position.
While Major League Baseball is down to its final games of the 2017 season, the Cleveland Indians are, unfortunately, working through the decisions facing the club as the Tribe prepares for the 2018 campaign.
While most players are resting up from what was an exciting, but ultimately disappointing season, a handful of minor leaguers are working their way through fall and winter league activities. Most notably in the mix are two of the club’s top two prospects, Francisco Mejia and Bobby Bradley, who are among eight players participating for the Indians in the Arizona Fall League. Mejia has put up a .400/.405/.571 slash through eight games while working to add third base to his list of defensive skills. He has hit a pair of homers and driven in five. Bradley has provided a little more in the power department, hitting two doubles, two homers, and a triple while driving in six, but the strikeouts have been plentiful for the big slugger, who has gone down on strikes 18 times in 44 at bats in eleven games.
The Indians have been well represented by their prospects in Arizona. Mejia will represent the Tribe and the Glendale Desert Dogs on the AFL West Fall Stars roster and will be joined by reliever Argenis Angulo (High-A Lynchburg) on the team. Bradley is part of the Final 2 vote for the team, as he will need to pull in more votes than Royals shortstop prospect Nicky Lopez and Rangers minor league outfielder Yanio Perez in order to participate in the All-Star Game.
There are many reasons why the Cleveland Indians’ season is over right now instead of the team playing in the ALCS (which was instead contested between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees). As we all know by now, the former knocked out the Tribe in a gut-wrenching five-game ALDS last week.
A major reason that Cleveland’s season fell short of great expectations was an offense that simply fell flat once the playoffs arrived. The Indians struggled to get much of anything going at the plate, especially in games 3-5. In those final three contests, all losses, the Indians score 0, 3, and 2 runs respectively. It’s hard to win when that happens.
The poster boys for the Tribe’s offensive woes seem to be Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. Both struggled at the dish during the five-game series with the Bronx Bombers. Ramirez had but two hits in 20 at-bats for an anemic .100 batting average. Lindor, who did provide a big-time grand slam in Cleveland’s Game 2 come-from-behind win, also had just a pair of hits in 18 at bats, hitting a mere .111.
Despite what you might have read or been told Monday morning, what Cleveland Indians fans witnessed Sunday night was an incredibly well-pitched and well-fought playoff game, and not the “latest chapter in a tortured history¹” of a Cleveland franchise “intimately connected with pain²”.
For Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Major League Baseball fans were actually treated to a pitchers’ duel (a rarity in the postseason thus far) as Masahiro Tanaka and Carlos Carrasco each took shutouts deep into the night. One mistake, hit over the short porch in right by New York’s Greg Bird off of Cleveland’s All-Star left-hander Andrew Miller, provided the game’s only run as the Yankees staved off eliminated with a 1-0 playoff classic win over the Indians.
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.
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.
Danny Salazar made his case for a role on the Indians’ postseason roster with four and two-thirds innings of strong starting pitching and the Cleveland bats provided just enough offense as the Tribe held on for a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night
The Indians (99-59) held off the Twins offense one night after it erupted for 17 hits against the Tribe pitching staff. With a chance to secure an on-the-field celebration of a trip to the 2017 playoffs, the Twins instead had to postpone their party for several hours until the Los Angeles Angels fell 6-4 in extra innings to the Chicago White Sox, punching Minnesota’s postseason ticket.
The Indians took the lead on the first batter of the afternoon and never looked back on Saturday as Cleveland used four long balls to defeat the Seattle Mariners by an 11-4 final.
The game was a bit closer than the final score implied as it was still a two-run contest in the sixth when Carlos Carrasco exited one of his final starts of the regular season. With Seattle on the board for the first time in the sixth, the Indians responded by putting up eight runs over the final three innings to erase all doubt. Seattle did not help its cause throughout the contest, committing five errors and several other blunders that could have easily joined them on the stat sheet.
The Indians’ rookies and minor league call-ups enjoyed some friendly superhero themed hazing prior to their flight to Seattle on Thursday. The Tribe will look for more on-the-field heroics as the team will take on the Mariners in Cleveland’s final road series of the regular season.
The Indians (96-57) will continue their pursuit of the best record in the Majors after pulling within a game of the Los Angeles Dodgers (97-56) after an incredible run beginning in the last week of August. The team is 27-1 in its last 28 games and sits just four games short of 100 wins on the season, which would mark just the third time in franchise history that the Indians have reached the century mark in victories. They added three more wins to their season total during the week, completing a season series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels to guarantee at least a .500 road trip while extending their road winning streak to a franchise record 14 straight.