Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 88 days
If you have a hard time remembering who Rene Gonzales was or when and where he played, don’t fret. His stay in Cleveland was short, but in his time on the shores of Lake Erie, he earned a special claim to fame by becoming the first Cleveland player to don the number 88 on his back in a Major League game.
As Did The Tribe Win Last Night helps fans count down the days until the Indians retake the field in an official Major League game, we look back at some of the players who wore the Cleveland jersey with pride.
Countdown to Opening Day – 88 days
If you have a hard time remembering who Rene Gonzales was or when and where he played, don’t fret. His stay in Cleveland was short, but his claim to fame was for being both the first Major League player and the first Cleveland player to don the 88 on his back in a game.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but even Texas couldn’t handle Lonnie Chisenhall on Monday night.
Chisenhall was 5-for-5, with three home runs, a double, a single and nine runs batted in, helping the Tribe rout the Texas Rangers 17-7. Chisenhall’s nine RBIs tie a team record, originally established by Chris James against the Oakland Athletics in 1991. The five hits added 20 points to Chisenhall’s batting average, leaving it at .385 at the end of the evening.
Cleveland needed more of Chisenhall’s offense than it would like to admit as both teams did not receive quality starts from their pitchers. Rookies T.J. House for the Indians and Nick Martinez for the Rangers both struggled to keep the opponent’s offense in control early. The Tribe’s bullpen was able to curtail the Rangers offense long enough for Chisenhall to do the necessary damage. The win gave the Indians a series victory in the four game set at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Every diamond needs a little polishing.
Lonnie Chisenhall and Trevor Bauer have been expected to emerge as leaders of the Tribe for some time now, but have struggled in opportunities. Neither struggled Saturday afternoon as they helped lead the Indians to a 7-6 win over the Colorado Rockies at Progressive Field. Chisenhall, who has bounced from Triple-A and the big leagues since June 2011, went 2-for-3 with a home run and three driven in on the afternoon.
Bauer, the big name in a three-team trade in December 2012, has been expected to become a front-of-the-rotation pitcher for Cleveland. He had his third quality start in four outings this year and outdueled lefty, Franklin Morales. Bauer’s command and control continue to thrive at the big league level in 2014, while Chisenhall’s offense has come alive after three seasons of sputter.
While the sky shined a beautifully overhead on a nice May afternoon, the Cleveland Indians’ season may have reached its darkest point.
Cleveland was embarrassed Sunday afternoon by the Oakland Athletics, 13-3, courtesy of 12 hits and nine walks. Ace Justin Masterson allowed seven runs in less than five innings and the defense allowed two more errors and a past ball. Journeyman Jesse Chavez pitched a decent five innings to earn the victory for Oakland and benefit from the offensive outburst. The dismal weekend leaves the Tribe just a half game better than Tampa Bay for the second worst record in the American League.
The Indians drew first blood for the second time in the series with a solo home run in the first inning. Michael Bourn started the bottom of the first frame with his first home run of the season, into the Indians bullpen. The homer staked the Tribe to a 1-0 lead over Chavez and the Athletics before the Indians registered an out.
It couldn’t have started much better for Zach McAllister and it couldn’t have turned worse much faster.
After striking out the side in the first inning on just 16 pitches, the Oakland Athletics hung eight runs on McAllister and the Tribe in the second inning. McAllister—the Indians best pitcher in April—could only record one more out in his final 38 pitches. Oakland was able to tally eight runs in the inning, courtesy of a grand slam and three-run home run. The Athletics cruised to an 11-1 victory in the opening game of the three game series Friday night.
Cleveland looked to be off to a good start in the first inning. After McAllister struck out the side in the top half of the inning, Nick Swisher hit a solo home run to stake the Indians to a 1-0 lead. Swisher’s third home run of the season was the most recent sign that the Tribe’s first baseman could be swinging his way out of his early season slump.
Tampa Bay starter Erik Bedard had seen his once-promising career take a turn for the worse over the past few years, but Saturday night brought back flashes of his former brilliance. Bedard battled both Zach McAllister and the Indians batters on Saturday, as the Rays throttled the Indians by a score of 7-1.
The Indians (17-20) had won four in a row and six of their previous eight while the Rays (16-21) had lost four games in a row coming into Saturday. For the evening, however, none of that mattered as the Indians collected only three hits for the entire evening. The Rays hitters had a much different story.
With all of the turnover in the Cleveland Indians bullpen, there were plenty of questions about how the relief corps would look as the team entered the 2014 season.
The concerns were clearly elevated after losing two-fifths of the successful 2013 starting rotation in the offseason free agency period. Looming questions about the potential growth of Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister post-finger injuries, the development of young flame thrower Danny Salazar, the unknown potential of Carlos Carrasco, and Justin Masterson in a contract year all spelled the need for a strong bullpen to complement the rotation arms.
Gone were a pair of mainstays from the “Bullpen Mafia” of years’ past. Closer Chris Perez struggled through injuries and off the field concerns throughout 2013 and ultimately lost his role as the ninth inning shutdown pitcher as the team was racing towards the postseason. He was let go by the Tribe in late October. Late inning righty Joe Smith exited via free agency after a 6-2 record with three saves and a 2.29 ERA in 70 games for Cleveland, his third straight season of 70 games or more.
When you’re struggling, you have to make the most out of small opportunities.
After another slow start, the Indians made the most of sparse offensive production and a mediocre start by Carlos Carrasco to survive into the middle innings. That survival allowed them to take advantage of Aaron Loup and sneak away with a 6-4 victory on Easter Sunday over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Michael Brantley provided all the Indians’ offense for the first five innings and after a strong three innings by Carrasco, the bullpen minimized damage when he struggled. It kept the Indians in the contest so that David Murphy’s three-run double put the Tribe up for good in the sixth inning. Despite just five hits on the afternoon, Cleveland made the most of them and the six walks gifted to them by the Blue Jays.
With the winds howling on Chicago’s South Side, pitching seemed like an optional part of the baseball game at US Cellular Field on Saturday, as the Indians (6-6) defeated the White Sox (6-6) by a score of 12-6. The Tribe got back to their winning ways against the ChiSox, as the Tribe had dropped the first two of this four game series after posting a remarkable 17-2 overall record against them in 2013.
The pitching matchup for the game featured the Indians Opening Day starter Justin Masterson (0-0, 5.87) against right-hander Felipe Paulino (0-1, 7.98). Neither starter was effective, nor qualified for a decision by the time the game had ended over 3.5 hours later. Facing Paulino marked the first time in the last five games that the Indians had faced a right handed pitcher.
The offense started early and scored often as the Tribe’s leadoff batter, Nyjer Morgan, scorched the fifth pitch of the ballgame up the middle for a single. He was picked off of first base by Paulino, but the call was overturned on a challenge by Manager Terry Francona. The bases eventually loaded on back to back walks by Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana and then Michael Brantley drove home the first two runs of the ballgame with a single into the right-centerfield gap. The Indians then plated a third run in the inning on a fielder’s choice RBI by Asdrubal Cabrera.
Sometimes the sizzle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
That was the case Thursday evening when Danny Salazar became the first player in the modern Major League era to strike out 10 hitters but not complete four innings on the mound. The Chicago White Sox made the young, flame-thrower work for his outs and eventually they took advantage, defeating Cleveland, 7-3. White Sox pitcher John Danks survived an early Indians rally to provide a quality, veteran effort while Cuban rookie Jose Abreu provided the offense.
In a game of young starters, looking to solidify themselves in a big league rotation, it was the younger of the two shining on a sunny, but frigid afternoon at Progressive Field.
The Minnesota Twins took advantage of 27-year old Carlos Carrasco, in his 41st big league start, in the first three innings to even the series with a 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Meanwhile, the Tribe could not get the timely hit against 26-year old Kyle Gibson, making just his 11th big league start. Both Carrasco and Gibson fought off contenders to earn spots as the fifth starter in the rotation out of spring training. The Indians bats did not come alive until the bottom of the ninth inning when they mounted a late rally.