After an 8-3 road trip and with the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox in town for a key four-game series this week, the Indians should be greeted to a raucous playoff-like atmosphere at Progressive Field in the team’s return to Cleveland.
The Indians (68-54) won four straight series and finished their road trip strong, taking three of four from Tampa Bay, one from Boston in a makeup game, and two of three against both Minnesota and Kansas City. In a notably difficult stretch of the schedule, the Indians have stepped up their game and look to be in top form, despite still being limited by injuries. The offense has been providing in bulk and at clutch moments, the bullpen has been consistent, and the starting rotation has been lights out. During their road trip, they outscored the opposition, 58-26, putting up an average of 5.3 runs per game. The starters combined for a 2.32 ERA in that stretch and the team hit .290 with runners in scoring position.
The Indians got six and one-third innings of scoreless baseball from Trevor Bauer and the bullpen tandem of Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen retired the final eight outs without a hit as Cleveland blanked the Kansas City Royals, 5-0, on Saturday night.
Bauer got a little help from his friends, who provided some early runs and some good work in the field behind him as the Tribe starter won his 12th game of the season, joining Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco to form the Majors’ only pitching staff with three different dozen-game winners. Bauer has now won each of his last five decisions, the longest streak of his career, and has not taken a loss in over a month.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona tried to loosen up the Indians clubhouse a little bit heading into a key weekend series in Kansas City with the Royals. The results appeared evident on the field, as the Indians routed the Royals by a 10-1 final, but had a scare in the sixth inning when starting pitcher Corey Kluber had to exit the ball game early with an injury.
In a game that had plenty of positives to draw upon, Indians’ players, brass, and fans were all collectively holding their breath in the sixth when Kluber broke from the mound and appeared hobbled as he attempted to cover first base on an infield single. He was able to talk his way back onto the mound in what was then a 6-1 contest and pitched to another batter, but after the base hit, Francona and the team trainer were back out to the mound to escort Kluber from the game.
It was announced late in the game that Kluber left with a right ankle sprain.
A lengthy eleven-game road trip has proven to be little problem for the Cleveland Indians as they return to Kauffman Stadium for a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals this weekend.
It will be a clash of the top two clubs in the American League Central, as the Royals (61-59) have slipped a half-game in front of the Minnesota Twins for the second spot in the division. After ignoring any urges to sell at the deadline, the Royals instead attempted to bulk up the roster, adding to the outfield, bullpen, and starting rotation. They have hung around the Wild Card race, trailing the second spot by a half game going into action on Friday, and have kept close enough in the AL Central to keep that divisional battle alive and well. A big weekend for the club could cut the gap significantly.
The Indians (66-53) saw their six-game winning streak come to an end on Thursday night, but the club is still riding a wave of strong performances on the road. After dropping the first game of their long roadie in Tampa, they won three straight from the Rays, took a one-game makeup date in Boston with the Red Sox, and defeated the Twins in the opener on Tuesday and in game one of a doubleheader on Thursday. The Indians will now look to expand on their divisional lead, currently sitting at five and a half games over the Royals.
A battle of minor league starters went in favor of the Twins on Thursday night, as Minnesota and rookie Aaron Slegers avoided a sweep with a 4-2 win in game two of the day’s doubleheader.
The 6’10” right-hander Slegers got the call for the Twins as the club’s 26th man for the second game of the day’s double dip and stood tall, both in effort and in stature, in his Major League debut at Target Field. He carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning and after Max Kepler‘s lost footing cost the Twins the lead, the outfielder put Minnesota back on top for good with an eighth inning blast off of Mike Clevinger.
Home field advantage has not applied to Target Field for the Minnesota Twins when facing the Cleveland Indians this season. The Tribe improved to 9-0 in Minneapolis this season behind a 9-3 victory in game one of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.
The game was a bit closer than the final score indicated, as the Indians tacked on six runs in the final two frames to blow open the contest. Carlos Carrasco worked around some early difficulties and five relievers had to combine to close out the game, temporarily making things close in the bottom of the seventh before the bats came to the rescue.
Target Field will be the site of one of the biggest American League Central matchups of the season to date as the first place Cleveland Indians take on the second place Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (64-52) won their fourth straight game on their current eleven-game, four-city road trip with a 7-3 victory on Monday behind a quality start from Trevor Bauer and a pair of two-run homers from Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians’ starting rotation has been at the heart of the club’s second half success – the group of starters has won 50 games (first in the AL; tied for second in baseball), is third in the league in ERA at 4.01, and has struck out more batters (773) than any other Major League rotation.
It was not Kluber’s best start of the season, but he did what an ace was supposed to do, keeping his club in the game long enough to find a way to win.
For a lot of Major League players, they seem to get amped up and find a way to pay back teams who may have given up on them or traded them away. For former Tribe farmhand Chris Archer, that has not been the case as he took a seventh straight loss in as many starts against Cleveland as he was outpitched by right-hander Mike Clevinger in a 3-0 Indians win on Saturday night.
Archer has yet to find the magic potion for stopping the Indians. The team that drafted and developed him, before shipping him off in a trade with the Chicago Cubs in December of 2008 for Mark DeRosa, knocked off the two-time All-Star right-hander for the second time this season and the seventh time in his career. The Indians remain the only team in the American League that he has not defeated in his six-year big league career.
Just over two years ago, Carlos Carrasco came within an out of throwing the first no-hitter for the Cleveland Indians since 1981 in his victory in St. Petersburg over the Tampa Bay Rays. On Friday night, he flirted with a no-no again as he came seven outs from history, ultimately settling for a combined three-hitter over those same Rays, 5-0.
Backed by a big fifth inning by his teammates against rookie right-hander Jacob Faria, Carrasco contained the Rays in his home away from home, as the Florida resident and road warrior allowed just two hits and two walks in eight scoreless innings to earn his eleventh win of the season, a team-high. He needed just 106 pitches to clear those eight innings, striking out ten and getting 22 swings and misses over the course of the night.
After what was a notably quiet non-waivers trade deadline period for the club, the Cleveland Indians added some pop to the lineup late Wednesday night, acquiring left-handed hitting slugger Jay Bruce from the New York Mets.
Bruce was on the market throughout the month of July for the disappointing Mets, but the team did not find any takers for the 30-year-old right fielder at the time. He passed unclaimed through revocable waivers at the end of last week, opening the door for New York to continue to negotiate with all teams for his services. His value increased for the Indians when the team lost left fielder Michael Brantley with a right ankle sprain that will keep him sidelined for an undetermined time frame.