A nine-run second inning was more than plenty for the Washington Nationals on Saturday as they secured home field advantage in Tuesday’s National League Wild Card Game with a 10-7 blowout of the Cleveland Indians.
With meaningful games done for the Indians after being eliminated from 2019 playoff consideration on Friday night, a lineup filled primarily with bench bats put up a bit of a fight on Saturday, but only after Adam Plutko and the Cleveland bullpen were destroyed in a nine-run frame by the Nationals as they rolled to victory. The only blemish for Washington was a subpar performance from Patrick Corbin, their big offseason signing, who was tagged for six runs and was unable to finish five innings in his final regular season start of the year.
Needing to win every game down the home stretch to improve its playoff odds, Cleveland was dealt a defeat as former Indians hurler Ross Detwiler scattered three runs on five hits over five innings while the Tribe bullpen let the game get out of hand late in an 8-3 loss.
The White Sox claimed the season series over the Indians, winning for the tenth time in 18 matchups this year. That could prove to be the difference for the Tribe, which fared well overall against the other three teams in the American League Central, going 18-1 against Detroit, 12-7 against Kansas City, and 10-9 against first place Minnesota. The White Sox used some early offense, capitalizing on a defensive miscue by the Tribe, and put the game away late with a key three-run long ball.
The loss for the Indians (93-65), coupled with a win by Minnesota in Detroit, officially eliminated the Tribe in the American League Central race, with the Twins taking the crown from Cleveland after a three-year run atop the division. Tampa was victorious prior to Cleveland’s loss and now leads the Indians by a game and a half for the second AL Wild Card spot.
The Indians got a quality start from Mike Clevinger and plenty of run support from the middle of the Cleveland lineup on Thursday in their sixth shutout of the season over the Detroit Tigers, 7-0.
For the 12th time this season, the Indians plated a half dozen runs or more against the Tigers in an unbelievable stretch of dominance over the cellar dwellers in the American League Central. Cleveland tallied an 18-1 record in their season series with Detroit, including wins in each of the last 17 games between the two clubs. The Indians (90-63) kept pace with the victorious Minnesota Twins to remain four games back in the division with nine to play, but more importantly, they pulled into a tie with the idle Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
Oscar Mercado had a day at the plate, but it was his work with the glove in desperate times in the ninth inning that the Indians may talk about for the rest of the season. The rookie center fielder’s diving catch with the bases loaded and one out in a two-run game in the ninth saved the game for Cleveland and may have very well have saved its playoff chances as the Tribe held off the Chicago White Sox, 8-6.
Shane Bieber was backed with runs in six of eight innings by his offensive teammates, but the bullpen faltered late for a second straight night and let the White Sox back into the game. Mercado’s catch saved several runs, but Nick Wittgren still had to slam the door for one final out to secure a desperately needed win for the Indians.
Carlos Carrasco’s return to a Cleveland mound was spoiled by the Chicago White Sox as they popped a pair of home runs off of the right-hander in a four-run eighth inning to stun the Indians in a 6-5 final on Tuesday night.
The unfortunate turn of events spoiled a strong start from Mike Clevinger, who left after seven innings of work in line to win his tenth consecutive decision for the Tribe. It was a tightly pitched game on both sides for much of the night, with the Indians finally striking through in the bottom of the seventh against White Sox starter Dylan Cease before Chicago responded in a big way against Carrasco the next half inning.
A little home cooking may have done the Indians some good. Back from a six-game road trip through Detroit and Tampa, the Cleveland lineup put up eleven runs in an 11-3 rout of the Chicago White Sox to start a four-game set from Progressive Field on Monday night.
The Indians backed starter Aaron Civale with runs in six of eight innings at the plate, including a three-run first and three more in the seventh to put the game away for good. It was hardly a well-pitched game for either club, as the two sides combined to throw 383 pitches while walking more batters (18) than they struck out (14) in a contest that ran four hours and seven minutes. Three errors between the two clubs added to the sloppy day on the field, as did rains in the early innings.
The Indians backed starter Adam Plutko with a three-run first and tacked on six runs in the seventh as Cleveland routed the Detroit Tigers by a 10-1 count on Tuesday night.
Cleveland got a career-high nine strikeouts from Plutko, who allowed just a run on three hits with two walks over five and two-thirds innings. The bullpen did the rest of the job to silence the Tigers, while the Tribe bats took advantage of some timely two-out hitting all night long.
For the second night in a row, the Cleveland Indians used a four-run inning to defeat the Kansas City Royals, this time by a 4-2 final on Saturday night. But there was little room for celebration for the club, which awaited word on the severity of a right wrist injury suffered by the resurgent Jose Ramirez during a first inning at bat.
The team’s former two-time All-Star and top three Most Valuable Player finisher in each of the last two seasons swung awkwardly on a 2-0 pitch with Francisco Lindor on second and Yasiel Puig on first and two outs in his first at bat against the Royals’ Glenn Sparkman. He left the game after meeting with the team trainer and manager Terry Francona. The wrist has been a lingering issue for him, but after the game, Francona shared that Ramirez’s injury on Saturday was felt in a different area of the wrist. Ramirez had an MRI performed to exam the injury and more should be known ahead of Sunday’s series finale with Kansas City.
The Indians rallied back from a 6-1 deficit, but fell in extras as the Red Sox’s Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the go-ahead run with a solo homer in the top of the tenth inning against Cleveland’s Nick Wittgren as Boston pulled out a 7-6 victory.
It was a tough way for things to end for the Tribe after crawling all the way back out of a five-run hole felt more than midway through the contest in a matchup against the struggling Chris Sale. He was backed by some early run support against Mike Clevinger, who was unable to make it through five innings.
Shane Bieber pitched another gem for the Indians in a playoff atmosphere and the Cleveland bats beat up on Minnesota starting pitching again as the Tribe rolled to a 6-2 win on Friday night.
A big needed victory for the Indians moved the club to 70-46, matching the Twins for the top record in the American League Central for the first time since April 26. In doing so, they officially trimmed the deficit in the division that once sat at 11.5 games all the way to zero, with two games remaining in the four-game set from Target Field this weekend. The Indians have won four in a row and seven of their last eight games, while the Twins have dropped four straight. The Tribe is now 40-16 since sitting at the .500 mark on June 4, when they started their first home series of the season against the Twins.
On Monday afternoon, Trevor Bauer was on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Ohio, conducting his Wiffleball camp with dozens of youngsters less than 24 hours after catching the public eye after hurling a baseball from behind the Kauffman Stadium pitching mound to the center field batter’s eye.
On Tuesday, he said goodbye to his Cleveland teammates of the last six years as he was dealt across the state to Cincinnati in a reported three-team trade with the Reds and the San Diego Padres.