There are many reasons why the Cleveland Indians’ season is over right now instead of the team playing in the ALCS (which was instead contested between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees). As we all know by now, the former knocked out the Tribe in a gut-wrenching five-game ALDS last week.
A major reason that Cleveland’s season fell short of great expectations was an offense that simply fell flat once the playoffs arrived. The Indians struggled to get much of anything going at the plate, especially in games 3-5. In those final three contests, all losses, the Indians score 0, 3, and 2 runs respectively. It’s hard to win when that happens.
The poster boys for the Tribe’s offensive woes seem to be Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. Both struggled at the dish during the five-game series with the Bronx Bombers. Ramirez had but two hits in 20 at-bats for an anemic .100 batting average. Lindor, who did provide a big-time grand slam in Cleveland’s Game 2 come-from-behind win, also had just a pair of hits in 18 at bats, hitting a mere .111.
Despite what you might have read or been told Monday morning, what Cleveland Indians fans witnessed Sunday night was an incredibly well-pitched and well-fought playoff game, and not the “latest chapter in a tortured history¹” of a Cleveland franchise “intimately connected with pain²”.
For Game 3 of the American League Division Series, Major League Baseball fans were actually treated to a pitchers’ duel (a rarity in the postseason thus far) as Masahiro Tanaka and Carlos Carrasco each took shutouts deep into the night. One mistake, hit over the short porch in right by New York’s Greg Bird off of Cleveland’s All-Star left-hander Andrew Miller, provided the game’s only run as the Yankees staved off eliminated with a 1-0 playoff classic win over the Indians.
Colder weather could not cool off the Cleveland bats on Friday night as the Indians opened the final series of the regular season with a 10-1 rout of the Chicago White Sox from Progressive Field.
Trevor Bauer took the mound for the Indians in his final start of the season as he prepared for the playoffs. Chasing down a personal statistical accomplishment, he would fall just short of that goal, but he added another win to his career-best totals while ending the Tribe’s Friday losing skid at two.
It’s hard to believe that earlier this week, northeast Ohio was dealing with 90 degree temperatures while leaves were beginning their descent back to earth. Now, the weather has fallen back to more fall-like levels, which seems much more fitting for the Indians’ season finale with the Chicago White Sox.
The Indians (100-59) have had to deal with losses a bit more in the last week, taking a loss last Friday in Seattle and another on Tuesday against Minnesota. It marked the first time the team had lost twice in the matter of a week since the final week of August, further recognition of the incredible run that the team has been on. The Indians offense has continued to contribute at high levels, while the pitching staff has fired on nearly every cylinder. If anything could strike as a concern, it might be the backend of the bullpen, which was on the mound and responsible for each of the team’s last two losses. Still, a 31-3 mark in their last 34 games is nothing to scoff at.
With a playoff spot already locked up, the Indians control their AL playoff destiny. With Houston playing Boston this weekend, the Astros have a much tougher road to pass the Indians to claim home field. Both teams have earned the opportunity to host their American League Division Series matchups, but any combination of Indians wins and Astros losses equaling two this weekend will grant Cleveland home field for the entire AL playoff bracket. The Tribe’s chances for the overall best record in baseball is much more difficult, as they will need the Dodgers to lose all three of their games this weekend while sweeping the White Sox at the same time.
Danny Salazar made his case for a role on the Indians’ postseason roster with four and two-thirds innings of strong starting pitching and the Cleveland bats provided just enough offense as the Tribe held on for a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night
The Indians (99-59) held off the Twins offense one night after it erupted for 17 hits against the Tribe pitching staff. With a chance to secure an on-the-field celebration of a trip to the 2017 playoffs, the Twins instead had to postpone their party for several hours until the Los Angeles Angels fell 6-4 in extra innings to the Chicago White Sox, punching Minnesota’s postseason ticket.
In a game that was not highlighted by the most quality pitching seen, the Minnesota Twins rallied back from a 6-4 deficit as Brian Dozier cleared the wall in right with a three-run shot in the top of the eighth off of Bryan Shaw and Minnesota held on to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 8-6, from Progressive Field on Tuesday night.
The Twins (83-74) reduced their magic number to clinch the American League’s second wild card spot down to one game. The Los Angeles Angels pulled out a victory over the Chicago White Sox, 9-3, to keep their hopes alive in the battle for the final playoff spot in the junior circuit, forcing the Twins to postpone any celebrations of their first trip to the playoffs since 2010 for at least one more day. They have now won five games in a row and improved to 6-1 while playing in Cleveland this season. They used 17 hits on the night to keep the bases clogged, giving them ample opportunity to mount a late comeback.
This week’s series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins from Progressive Field has a brand new meaning as the surprise Twins look to lock up the second American League Wild Card spot and a possible first round matchup with the Indians in the ALDS.
The Indians (98-58) will look to prevent the Twins (82-74) from celebrating on their home field, but it may all be just delaying the inevitable. Minnesota comes into play on Tuesday night with a five-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the final playoff spot still available on the junior circuit side of the Major League Baseball landscape. Minnesota is coming off of a sweep of the Detroit Tigers, dropping its magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two games.
Corey Kluber was on the mound for Cleveland on Sunday. That should answer any questions about whether the Tribe won its series from the Seattle Mariners or not in the club’s final road game of the regular season.
The Tribe right-hander strengthened his already strong Cy Young case with a quality start and his 18th win of the year. His offense stepped up after two fifth-inning Mariners runs briefly tied the game, helping to overcome the error that made the unearned runs possible.
The Indians took the lead on the first batter of the afternoon and never looked back on Saturday as Cleveland used four long balls to defeat the Seattle Mariners by an 11-4 final.
The game was a bit closer than the final score implied as it was still a two-run contest in the sixth when Carlos Carrasco exited one of his final starts of the regular season. With Seattle on the board for the first time in the sixth, the Indians responded by putting up eight runs over the final three innings to erase all doubt. Seattle did not help its cause throughout the contest, committing five errors and several other blunders that could have easily joined them on the stat sheet.
The Indians’ rookies and minor league call-ups enjoyed some friendly superhero themed hazing prior to their flight to Seattle on Thursday. The Tribe will look for more on-the-field heroics as the team will take on the Mariners in Cleveland’s final road series of the regular season.
The Indians (96-57) will continue their pursuit of the best record in the Majors after pulling within a game of the Los Angeles Dodgers (97-56) after an incredible run beginning in the last week of August. The team is 27-1 in its last 28 games and sits just four games short of 100 wins on the season, which would mark just the third time in franchise history that the Indians have reached the century mark in victories. They added three more wins to their season total during the week, completing a season series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels to guarantee at least a .500 road trip while extending their road winning streak to a franchise record 14 straight.
After a well deserved day off, the Cleveland Indians will get back to action across the country as the Los Angeles Angels host the top team in the American League from their home in Anaheim, California.
The Indians (93-57) remain in the driver’s seat in the race to the top record in the AL this season with the hopes of claiming home field advantage throughout the junior circuit half of the postseason. They head into the weekday series with a game and a half lead over the Houston Astros for the best record in the league. They took care of the Angels in three games back in July at Progressive Field, winning on a walk-off Edwin Encarnacion grand slam on July 25 before winning 10-4 and 2-1 decisions to close out the series.
Had the Cleveland Indians continued their record-breaking winning streak through the weekend, they would have gone for win number 25 in a row on Sunday, which just so happened to be the 25th birthday of one of the big reasons the club was able to be so victorious for so long. Unfortunately, that numerical coincidence was not meant to be.
Jose Ramirez was absent from the Indians starting lineup again on Sunday, getting a well deserved rest after appearing in 141 of the team’s 150 games so far this season. Minor aches and pains are common this time of year, and Ramirez rested while tending to a minor hamstring injury. With an off day on Monday, it was the perfect time to give the little extra base hit machine a bit of a breather from his every day hustle and bustle.