Rain in northeast Ohio on Friday delayed the return of Francisco Lindor to the Cleveland Indians’ 25-man roster, while also giving the club a little more time to determine which player would be removed from the squad to make room for the three-time All-Star’s return from the 10-day injured list.
The Indians announced their decision on Saturday morning, as the team has elected to designate 35-year-old designated hitter Hanley Ramirez for assignment.
Even the addition of yearly interleague play has not substantially increased the number of trips taken to Cleveland by the Atlanta Braves, which visit the north coast this weekend for an abbreviated three-day trip.
The Indians (11-7) return home after salvaging a road trip that had taken a rough turn when the team was swept last weekend in Kansas City by the Royals. Instead of crumbling, the team responded by taking all three from the scorching hot Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park during the week. The sweep was the team’s second of the season, following a four-game defeat of the Toronto Blue Jays earlier in the month. The 5-4 mark on the road trip moved the club to even at 6-6 away from home this season. During the Indians’ brief upcoming homestand, they will look to improve upon a 5-1 record at Progressive Field so far in April.
For the most part, the Cleveland Indians have survived Cactus League play with a minimal number of injuries. But there have been a few that have changed manager Terry Francona‘s roster construction for next Thursday when the team opens play in Minnesota against the Twins.
The most notable of the bunch was the biggest loss as the Indians settled in to Goodyear, Arizona, for their month and a half stay in the desert in mid-February. The moderate right calf injury suffered by three-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor before arriving to camp left many wondering if the 25-year-old would be ready within the seven- to nine-week time table expected for his injury. While there were plenty on the social media landscape calling for Lindor to take it slowly and ease into the season, the young superstar returned to action in minor league camp but has yet to play in an official Cactus League game for Cleveland.
Baseball fans around the globe can rejoice – there are less than two weeks to go until the start of the 2019 Major League Baseball regular season schedule. Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we continue our countdown to Opening Day – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 12 days
Before players could even comfortably settle into their Arizona homes for the spring, the Cleveland Indians received some unpleasant news at their Goodyear camp when it was announced that a right calf strain would sideline three-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor for a seven- to nine-week period, putting his status for Opening Day up in the air.
Getting Lindor back in time for the start of the season, after he injured the calf preparing for the coming year, is far less important than making sure that he is in good health at the end of the campaign for the club’s presumed fourth straight postseason under manager Terry Francona. So while the team has used caution with one of the more significant players on the roster, Lindor is champing at the bit to return to the field, working his way back slowly this week through inclusion in some activities on the minor league side of camp (where he hit a home run in a game against the Cincinnati Reds).
Well, at least the Padres’ pursuit of Corey Kluber makes a little more sense now.
The Indians’ ace would have been a great addition to the Dodgers pitching staff. In a way, the Reds kind of made sense too. But the Padres? They were baseball Siberia. No playoff appearances since 2006, and no winning record since 2010. They were the team Bruce Bochy (who announced earlier this week that this would be his last season as Giants manager) left before establishing his Hall of Fame bona fides in San Francisco.
As is the case with so many instances in my life, the news last week of Francisco Lindor’s injury reminded me of a moment of the Simpsons.
This one, to be precise:
The Cleveland Indians returned to routine offseason work following the announcement of the Yan Gomes trade with Washington on Friday, avoiding arbitration with four members of its 40-man roster while tendering contract offers to All-Stars Trevor Bauer and Francisco Lindor, as well as rehabbing pitcher Cody Anderson.
The Indians came to terms on Major League contracts for the 2019 season with relievers Nick Goody and Neil Ramirez, pitcher Danny Salazar, and infielder Eric Stamets. Reliever James Hoyt, who was acquired from the Houston Astros during the first week of July, was the only player eligible who was non-tendered, making him a free agent.
A three-run seventh gave the Houston Astros their first lead of the day and a six-run eighth buried Chief Wahoo as the Cleveland Indians were swept out of the American League Division Series in an embarrassing 11-3 shellacking on Monday afternoon from Progressive Field.
A packed house in downtown Cleveland was the site of one of the more disappointing losses in the playoff history of the Indians, who put up a pitiful last stand at their remodeled gem at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. A 2-1 lead afforded to starter Mike Clevinger was lost in the seventh as several throwing errors and the lethal bat of Indian killer Marwin Gonzalez put the Astros on top for good. The next two innings just threw more dirt on the grave of the 2018 season.
The tables have turned dramatically on the Cleveland Indians while playing in their third consecutive American League Division Series. After sweeping the Boston Red Sox in 2016 and winning the first two games of the set last season against the New York Yankees, the Indians find themselves in an 0-2 hole against the reigning champions, the Houston Astros. Cleveland will host Game 3 on Monday, and if the Indians can pull out a victory, Game 4 will take place from Progressive Field on Tuesday.
The series has not gone well for the Indians thus far. Key hitters have slumped and the team as a whole has managed just six hits through the first two contests against a notably tough Astros pitching staff. Four different batters have gone hitless in the series. The starters have given up six walks in ten innings of work, and the bullpen has surrendered four runs in six innings.
On Friday, the story was the Astros hitting more homers alone than the Indians had total hits. That lack of offense again reared its head for the Tribe as Cleveland was held to just three hits and lost a one-run lead in the sixth inning as Houston took a commanding 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series with a 3-1 win on Saturday.
The flat showing from an Indians roster relatively untested all season long proved discouraging again as the only runner to reach second base for Cleveland was Francisco Lindor during his third inning trot around the bases for the team’s only run of the day. The remaining four players to reach advanced no further than first base. Carlos Carrasco pitched well in his second career playoff game, but the bullpen behind him was unable to get out of a jam and a bad defensive play in right field led to a game-changing inning for the Astros in the bottom of the sixth.
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.