There was good news and bad news on Monday night as the Cleveland Indians made their long-awaited return home to Progressive Field after an eleven-game road trip and won in an exciting 5-4 finish on a sacrifice bunt turned walk-off error.
The start of a key four-game series between the leaders of the American League East and American League Central Divisions had all of the excitement that the playoff preview was expected to have. The Red Sox built an early lead, lost that lead, got it back with the aid of replay review in the middle innings, then lost that lead and the ball game in the final two innings, ultimately on a walk-off throwing error in the bottom of the ninth. The Indians, while losing their early 3-2 lead but gaining a needed win on the team above them in the AL playoff picture, also lost slugger Carlos Santana and reliever Andrew Miller to injuries.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Year after year, the Tampa Bay Rays seem to find themselves with a light payroll, a young and overproducing roster, and a fight for a playoff berth. This season is no different, as despite a heavily contested battle atop the American League East, the Rays are lurking in the shadows of the American League’s Wild Card picture.
The Indians (60-51) will head to the Trop in St. Pete to take on the perennial playoff challenger, one who stood in the way for Cleveland in 2013, for a four-game series beginning Thursday night. The Tribe’s offense has stumbled in the last few games and the team found itself in a bit of a predicament at the plate, but, despite the woes, they were able to pick off a game during their two-game series split with the Colorado Rockies during the week to wrap up a 3-3 homestand. They split a four-game set with the New York Yankees last weekend.
Every now and then, the baseball gods look down upon a team and take pity on it. Unless, that is, you are the Padres. They’ve had some extended bad luck.
After going on a nine-game tear, the Cleveland Indians (57-48) have given a few of those wins right back, dropping three in a row and both games of their series in Boston this week. A third game was postponed, forcing the loss of an off day in a week and a half when the team will have to return to Fenway Park for one final game. While the players could have benefited from returning to the diamond to get the sour taste of a painful loss on Tuesday out of their collective mouths, the rest will be needed as the schedule has just two more off days in the rest of August.
The Indians saw the old version of Doug Fister that they have faced numerous times over the years and not the player who had struggled to find a consistent spot in the Majors as the veteran right-hander returned to the Red Sox rotation and shut down the Cleveland offense over seven and two-thirds innings before a late Tribe homer in a 6-2 win by Boston on Monday night.
Fister was in prime form in the series opener from Fenway Park as the Indians’ struggles in the oldest ball park in the Majors continued. Mike Clevinger had a tough time on the mound for the Indians for a second straight start and did so in his first game against the Red Sox in his career.
While both the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox could have been big buyers at Monday afternoon’s trade deadline, each club made just minor tweaks to its roster as the league prepares for the final two months of the regular season schedule. Both very much in contention, the two teams will play each other this week for the first time since the Indians swept the Red Sox in the American League Division Series last October.
The Indians (57-46) have turned around what looked like a frightening start to the second half of their season after opening 1-5 against two of the worst teams in baseball in the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants on a west coast road trip. Since then, they rattled off nine straight wins, including sweeping a perfect seven-game homestand, before they were finally slowed down by the Chicago White Sox, 3-1, on a walk-off homer on Sunday afternoon.
The Cleveland Indians hit three home runs, including a pair of grand slams, but needed eleven innings to defeat the Los Angeles Angels, 11-7, on Tuesday night after surrendering a seven-run second inning lead.
The game certainly served as a bit of an emotional roller coaster. The Indians provided quite the high by putting up seven early runs, powered by the second inning grand slam by Bradley Zimmer, only to turn around and steadily give every run back over the course of the next few innings.
The ride ended, however, with fireworks and a celebration for the ages at home plate as Edwin Encarnacion blasted the team’s second slam of the night in the bottom of the eleventh to send the Indians (53-45) home with a fifth straight win.
After a disappointing road trip to start the second half, the Indians have flipped their season script and opted to play better at home and did so at the perfect time. A sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays and a win on Monday over Cincinnati extended the club’s winning streak to four straight. With a winning homestand already secured, the Tribe will look to add a few more tallies to the win column in the middle of the week as the Los Angeles Angels come to town for their only visit of 2017.
The Indians (52-45) were victorious for a fourth straight day in knocking off the Reds on Monday night, 6-2, behind a strong pitching performance from Josh Tomlin and two homers from Carlos Santana. The Indians’ starting pitching staff is on a tear of late (maybe rumors of the team’s potential interest in another starting pitcher has lit a fire under some of the underperforming members of the staff?). Since the start of their series with the San Francisco Giants last Monday, Cleveland starters have combined to go 4-0 in seven games with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. They have averaged more than six innings per start with 10.4 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine innings.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Mike Clevinger has minor league options, while fellow starters Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer do not. Bauer and Tomlin are playoff-tested veterans (more so Tomlin), Clevinger is not. Clevinger, though, has an ERA of 3.00 for the season and under 2.00 over his last six starts, while Bauer and Tomlin have not seen ERAs that low since they took the mound for each of their respective first starts of the season.
It is that third sentence that Indians management will hopefully pay closest attention to when it comes time to making some tough decisions in the near future. Danny Salazar made his return to the Major League pitching rotation Saturday, giving the Tribe six healthy starters. Eventually that number is going to have to be pared back down to five. Someone will need to be jettisoned from the rotation. It is also possible, in the next week, the Indians could make a trade-deadline deal for a starting pitcher, meaning someone else will need to be removed from the starting five.
Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are going nowhere. They are the Indians’ unquestioned top two pitchers and dual aces. The other starter that should remain in tact, whether one or two pitchers need to go from the rotation in the coming weeks, is Clevinger.