An explosive first inning for both clubs provided all of the runs on the afternoon as the Cleveland Indians held off the Seattle Mariners, 4-3, on Saturday.
A game that looked like it had all the potential to be a high scoring slugfest completely changed course after the first and turned into more of a mound battle between Cleveland starter Danny Salazar and Seattle right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Salazar would get the better of the veteran M’s pitcher, who was making just his second career start against the Indians.
Ariel Miranda and a pair of relievers limited Cleveland to just four hits on the night and a pair of home runs provided all of the offense for Seattle as the Mariners knocked off the Indians, 3-1, on Friday night.
Miranda, the 28-year-old Cuban left-hander, got the start for Seattle and was making his 15th career start and 17th overall appearance while taking on the Indians for the first time. Previous issues on the road may have been a concern for the southpaw, who owned a 1-3 record with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP away from home, but he quieted those whispers quickly with a dominating effort against the Tribe. His production, coupled with the bullpen work of hard-throwing left-hander James Pazos and right-hander Edwin Diaz, spoiled another quality outing from Indians starter Carlos Carrasco.
The Cleveland Indians remembered this week how to win a series at home. They will look to make it two straight series this weekend as the Seattle Mariners make their way to Progressive Field for a three-game set.
The Indians …
Last season, Jose Ramirez took the baseball world by surprise. After struggling for a couple of years to get his footing at the Major League Baseball level, Ramirez enjoyed one of the game’s bigger breakout performances in 2016.
Some feel he may have been the MVP of last year’s Cleveland Indians – a club that won an American League Central Division championship, the AL pennant, and was one run away from a World Series crown.
Statistically, Ramirez had a breakout season a year ago. He put up career highs across the board with a .312 batting average, 11 home runs, 76 RBI, 22 stolen bases, and 152 games played. Not only did he do all that, but he picked things up where others the Tribe was counting on faltered.
Chances are slim that the candles on manager Terry Francona’s 58th birthday cake withstood the strong winds generated by three Indians home runs and plenty of swings and misses by the White Sox as Carlos Carrasco worked eight innings of three-hit shutout baseball and the Indians blanked the White Sox again, 7-0, on Saturday night.
Carrasco (2-1, 1.65 ERA) channeled his inner Corey Kluber and nearly replicated the pitching performance of the Tribe’s ace from one night earlier when he fired a complete game three-hit shutout. Carrasco worked a similar line on the night, exiting for the final frame with a zero on the scoreboard in the runs column while limiting the Sox to three hits and a walk while striking out eight. He was aggressive on the mound, throwing first pitch strikes to 19 of the 27 batters that he faced while hitting 73 of 106 pitches for strikes. Nineteen of those pitches were cut on and missed.
When the Indians and Chicago White Sox met a week and a half ago, Cleveland was reeling after a three-game sweep courtesy of the Arizona Diamondbacks. While the Tribe would claim a walk-off win over Chicago in the home opener, the White Sox took the next two games to start a tough 2-4 homestand for the Indians.
The Indians (8-7) turned things around quickly during their second road trip of the season, sweeping the Minnesota Twins in an abbreviated three-game sweep at Target Field during the week. Now, they will face a White Sox club that they scored just seven runs against during a rough offensive drought. The biggest issue for the club at the time may have been the lack of timely clutch hitting, as they were just 2-for-28 (.149) when hitting with runners on second or third base.
The bats were alive in Minnesota for the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night as they gave starter Josh Tomlin some room to work with and he returned the favor with a quality start in an 11-4 victory.
The early run support for Tomlin may have been just what the right-hander needed to relax on the mound. He had had a rough go in his first two outings, but he looked much more like the quality back end of the rotation arm that he was for the club last season.
The Indians were the recipient of a first inning gift from the Twins and built off of the extra out quickly and never looked back.
After a 2-4 homestand, it may just be time for the Cleveland Indians to hit the road and put their disappointing series against Chicago and Detroit behind them. They will start a four-game series in Minnesota with the Twins on Monday night to begin a seven-game roadtrip.
The Indians (5-7) will return to Target Field for the first of ten games there this season. A scuffling offense and a starting rotation unable to get the job done consistently have gotten the Tribe off to a poor record after a hot start in Texas, where they swept the first three games of the season before going just 2-6 since against Arizona, Chicago, and Detroit. The team has shown an ability to get runners on base with ease, but when it comes to the big hit, the Indians have been slow in the clutch department, hitting into too many double plays and failing to drive in runs in general.
There was nothing sweet about home this week and even an influx of Easter candy could not sweeten the Indians chances against the Tigers on Sunday as Detroit took the early season series in Cleveland with a 4-1 victory in the finale.
After erupting for a season-high 13 runs against Justin Verlander and the Tigers bullpen on Saturday evening, the Indians offense returned to its more frustrating ways and could not find home plate. While they put up eight hits on the day and had two more batters reach via walk, the club was just 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six on base. Three separate times they turned opportunities with men on base into double plays, further limiting the team’s ability to do damage to the runs column.
Left-hander Matt Boyd made his first career start and second appearance against the Tribe in the Sunday holiday game. He allowed plenty of ground traffic, yet kept pitching his way out of trouble.
Big things can come in smaller packages and Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez delivered repeatedly in the clutch for Cleveland on Saturday afternoon as the Tribe routed Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers by a 13-6 final.
It was the long-awaited return of offense to Progressive Field as the Indians rolled out a season-high 13 runs while riding four home runs balls against the Detroit pitching staff to even the series at one game apiece. Cleveland used 19 hits to put up multi-run innings in five different frames on the spring afternoon, doing the bulk of the damage against the Tigers ace Verlander.
The Cleveland Indians started the season with an impressive and dramatic three-game sweep in Texas. Since then, things have taken a turn for the worst as the club has dropped five of its last six and is struggling to score runs while limiting the damage.
They will look to turn around the early season woes and heat up the cold bats as they host the Detroit Tigers this weekend in a three-game set.
The Indians may have had their fill of Arizona for one season.
What was a 1-1 game heading into the bottom of the sixth inning ended up an 11-2 drubbing as the Arizona Diamondbacks lineup solved Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer the third time through the order, putting up four runs in the inning before erasing any doubt with six more in the eighth in the rout.
The Diamondbacks were already the highest scoring team in baseball coming in to the night and their efforts at the plate did nothing to hurt that status. It just took them more than five innings to figure it out.