Happy pitchers’ and catchers’ reporting day! Our countdown to Opening Day at Did the Tribe Win Last Night has reached 43 as baseball springs back to life for the Tribe from Goodyear, Arizona.
Countdown to Opening Day – 43 days
The number 43 was curiously absent from Jacobs Field/Progressive Field for the majority of its existence, that is until Josh Tomlin came along and debuted on July 27, 2010, throwing seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball in a win over the New York Yankees. For a starting pitcher, that’s how you start a Major League career.
The only other players to wear it during the new era of Tribe baseball were Chris Nabholz in the park’s inaugural season in 1994 and again in 1998, when a man with strong ties to old Cleveland Stadium, reliever Doug Jones, wore it during his return to the organization.
With some big questions looming over the Indians roster for the 2018 season, two of those were answered on Friday as Cleveland announced that team options on outfielder Michael Brantley and starting pitcher Josh Tomlin were picked up, giving the two long-time Tribe veterans at least one more season in town.
The decision on Tomlin’s option was much easier to make than Brantley’s, but both players were retained as Tomlin provided another consistent season for the Indians while Brantley lost a half season while dealing with significant injuries for a second straight year.
In the final game of the regular season, the Cleveland Indians did what they have done consistently over the last five weeks, winning a 3-1 decision over the Chicago White Sox in the final warm-up before the team heads into the postseason.
The game may have felt like a formality with nothing riding on this contest with the division clinched and home field advantage locked up against all playoff contenders with the exception of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite little at stake, the Indians got three early runs, some promising pitching performances, and, most importantly, escaped the day with no injuries.
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.
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.
The Cleveland Indians played spoilers once again as they defeated the Los Angeles Angels, 6-5, from Angel Stadium in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
The final score was a little closer than the Indians may have wanted, but the end result was the same as it had been in 26 of the team’s last 27 games. Another victory moved the Tribe to 95-57, but even more importantly, Cleveland is now one game behind the Angels’ California neighbor, the Los Angeles Dodgers (96-56), who dropped a 7-5 final in Philadelphia to the Phillies. The Indians maintained their lead over Houston (93-58) for the best record in the junior circuit, with the Astros victorious over the Chicago White Sox Wednesday.
The Angels (76-75) missed a chance to pick up a needed game in their own playoff pursuits, as the Minnesota Twins were shelled by the New York Yankees earlier in the evening. The Twins lead the Angels by a game and a half for the second AL Wild Card spot.
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.
Is there anything that this Cleveland Indians team cannot do?
Finding themselves down in the ninth inning for the first time in a 22-game span, the Indians rallied down to their final out to tie the game against Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera and won the game on a walk-off single the next inning down the right field line by Jay Bruce as the Tribe clinched a trip to the postseason for the second straight year in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over the Royals on Thursday night.
The Cleveland Indians sent a very loud message to the Kansas City Royals when the two clubs met six times over two series in August. The Tribe took two of three early in the month, outscoring KC 22-5, and then swept a later set in Cleveland, putting up three straight shutouts while tallying 20 runs of their own.
The Royals will try to change that trend during a four-game weekend series with the Indians in Cleveland, but will have the daunting task of trying to stop the Indians’ 21-game winning streak first.
The streak remained alive on Saturday afternoon as the Cleveland Indians overcame an early deficit with runs in three straight innings and added an insurance run late on the way to a 4-2 win.
The Indians (86-56) extended their franchise record for consecutive wins to 17 straight with the victory, as Cleveland guaranteed itself its fifth straight series win. Including ties, the Indians have not dropped a series since losing two games and having a third rained out on July 31 and August 1 in Boston against the Red Sox.
The Indians make their long awaited return home to Progressive Field on Friday night as the team hosts the Baltimore Orioles in the first series of three from downtown Cleveland over the next week and a half. As was the …