Roberto Perez’s three-run blast in a four-run sixth put the Cleveland Indians up for good as they defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-5, on Sunday afternoon.
In the biggest series of the season, the Indians salvaged their final regular season game against the Twins to claim the season series against Minnesota, 10-9. Needing a sweep over the weekend, Cleveland was only able to earn a win in the finale, coming back from a 4-2 deficit to hold off the top club in the American League Central.
Big days at the plate from Mike Freeman and Oscar Mercado and ten strikeouts from Mike Clevinger over five innings helped pace the Cleveland Indians to an 8-4 win on Sunday to split their four-game set with the New York Yankees.
The Indians got big numbers from some unusual contributors in Freeman and Mercado, who each went yard on three-hit days while driving in six of the eight Indians runs on the afternoon. Clevinger had some command issues throughout a short five-inning effort, pitching into full count scenarios frequently, but all in all, the Tribe spoiled the final regular season start against them by long-time friend of the feather and likely future Hall of Famer CC Sabathia.
Tribe closer Brad Hand gave up a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth to allow the Twins to tie the game at three, but Carlos Santana sent the Indians to a victory as he hit a grand slam in the top of the tenth to give Cleveland a 7-3 win over Minnesota on Sunday.
In the biggest series of the year for the Indians to date, the club showed up big in the Twin Cities and stole three wins in a four-game series to tie the Twins for the top spot in the American League Central for the second time in the last three days. They needed some late inning heroics, capped by a dynamite defensive play to avoid a dramatic loss in the bottom of the ninth before Santana crushed the backbreaker in the next half inning to send Cleveland home with an impressive series win from Minnesota.
Jordan Luplow’s cramp following his slide into third base in the seventh inning on Monday night was a little worse than hoped. The outfielder was placed on the ten-day injured list on Tuesday while Greg Allen was recalled from Triple-A Columbus.
Cleveland’s Shane Bieber took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and limited the Toronto Blue Jays to just one hit over nine innings in a complete game 4-0 shutout on Wednesday night.
Bieber could do almost no wrong in the series finale from Rogers Centre in Toronto as the Indians claimed a series win and pulled within two games of the first place Minnesota Twins, which dropped its series finale with the New York Yankees. The Indians (59-42) improved to 14-4 in the month of July and have scored twice as many runs (104) as they have allowed (52) through 18 games. The club has raced towards the top spot in the AL Central and holds a two-game lead over Oakland for the top Wild Card spot in the league.
The Indians bullpen has been a surprising strength for the club this season, but that was not the case on Tuesday from the Rogers Centre as Justin Smoak delivered a game-tying home run off of Brad Hand in the ninth before coming through with the walk-off single in the tenth to deal a 2-1 defeat to Cleveland.
It was a disappointing end to a tightly contested game and a well-pitched effort by Trevor Bauer, who lasted two outs into the eighth while pitching three-hit shutout baseball. Oliver Perez closed out the eighth with a strikeout, but Smoak’s late heroics (after going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Bauer) turned the table on Cleveland and gave Toronto a late inning celebration.
Adam Plutko allowed just one run while giving the Indians a quality start on Saturday, but he came away with a tough defeat as the Royals’ Jakob Junis pitched even better. The Kansas City right-hander worked with three relievers to secure a three-hit 1-0 shutout over Cleveland on a scorching hot day on the shores of Lake Erie.
One night after the two clubs combined to score 15 runs on 25 hits, offense was at an absolute premium as the Royals got back into the win column after their four-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night. In doing so, they stopped the Indians’ recent tear at six straight, ending one of the game’s longest active winning streaks coming into the day while spoiling things for the 31,958 in attendance on a night with first pitch temperatures in the 90s.
Cleveland’s Zach Plesac pitched well enough to win on Sunday afternoon, but so too did Chicago’s Lucas Giolito, as the White Sox starter moved to 8-1 on the season with seven and one-third dominant innings on the mound in a 2-0 six-hit shutout over the Indians.
Plesac earned himself another start with seven innings of one-run, four-hit baseball in his second Major League outing, but he was ousted by Giolito, who got one run of support early on the ninth home run of the season by Tim Anderson. The Indians had few opportunities to strike through against Giolito, who kept the bats befuddled with a devastating fastball/changeup mix that made some of the Cleveland hitters look foolish in a two and a half hour series finale from Guaranteed Rate Field.
The Indians and White Sox are now both 29-30 and tied for second place in the American League Central, light years away from the scorching hot Minnesota Twins, which held on for a 9-7 win in Tampa to maintain an 11.5 game lead in the division.
The Indians saved their best for last on Tuesday night, as Cleveland rallied for two runs in the eighth and five more in an improbable ninth to stun the Boston Red Sox in a 7-5 victory.
On a night with persistent rains and an early delay after steady precipitation in the first inning and a half, the Indians and Red Sox went five scoreless frames before Boston took what appeared to be a commanding 3-0 lead over Cleveland. The Indians cut the deficit to one and missed out on a huge opportunity for more in the eighth, only to see the bullpen give the runs right back. But in a fashion uncharacteristic of their performance this season, the Indians found some Fenway magic of their own in their final at bats, hitting a pair of clutch home runs before claiming the game for good.
Tampa Bay rocked three more home runs off of Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco as the Rays rolled to a 6-2 win on Saturday afternoon.
Both clubs had to endure a nearly three-hour long rain delay prior to first pitch on Saturday, but the Rays bats came out ready to play ball while the Indians offense remained unproductive to follow a season-long trend. The Rays got stellar pitching from Charlie Morton, who limited the Indians to just one run on three hits with ten strikeouts over six innings in his longest start (in terms of pitches thrown) this season. Carrasco was locked in at times, but the Rays found him three times with the long ball to change the outcome of the game.
The Indians will need another starting pitcher next week.
Cleveland announced on Saturday morning that pitcher Adam Plutko and catcher Eric Haase had been optioned to Triple-A Columbus. The Tribe made a pair of moves with the vacated roster spots, recalling outfielder Greg Allen from Columbus while also purchasing the contract of left-handed reliever Josh Smith from their top farm affiliate.