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.
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 biggest news to come out of game 162 was that there were no further injuries to the Tribe’s roster, which may have been the most important thing circled on the day’s agenda for manager Terry Francona. He got in a balanced game from dual starters Carrasco and Bauer, who each gave solid and encouraging efforts in their final action of the regular season. Carrasco earned his 17th win of the season, one short of his career high established a season ago, and Bauer’s four innings of work gave him the first save of his professional career. Regulars in the lineup got a handful of at bats, with only left-handed hitting Yonder Alonso out of the starting lineup against lanky lefty Eric Skoglund.
The Cleveland Indians wrapped up a productive season against both Chicago teams with eight shutout innings on Wednesday in a 10-2 victory at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Allowing just a pair of runs in the ninth inning, the Indians successfully stomped the White Sox in their home finale to finish the season with a 14-5 record against their young and rebuilding divisional rival. Six dominant shutout innings from Shane Bieber took the White Sox right out of the game, and four straight innings of scoring in the middle of the game from the Tribe offense buried Chicago in a hole it could not come out of.
The Indians fended off the Red Sox until the top of the eighth, when Boston scored two runs off of Andrew Miller and Brad Hand to tie the game at four. The Indians had chances late, but it took a clutch hit in the eleventh from Brantley to send Tribe fans home a winner.
While the NFL’s Cleveland Browns were holding on for a 21-17 win down the street at FirstEnergy Stadium to end a 635-day winless drought, the MLB’s Indians dropped a 5-4 final to the Chicago White Sox in a game that …