The Cleveland Indians announced on Sunday morning that the contract of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has been purchased from Triple-A Columbus.
In corresponding moves to get Gonzalez on the 25- and 40-man rosters, Saturday’s starting pitcher Jefry Rodriguez was optioned to Triple-A, while injured starter Mike Clevinger was transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.
Corey Kluber allowed one earned run in six innings and was backed by four home runs (and an unofficial Little League homer) as the Indians opened a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers with an 8-2 win.
The Indians entered the day with just four home runs on the year, but they rode the long ball starting with the very first batter of the game, jumping out to an early lead to back Kluber, who was looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic performance in his last start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. Kluber gave the Indians a quality start and left with a healthy lead after six as manager Terry Francona looked to get his rested bullpen some extra work early in the season.
Suddenly, a strength of the Cleveland Indians’ roster has been exposed as the team announced on Monday that starting pitcher Mike Clevinger has been placed on the 10-day injured list with a “right upper back/Teres major muscle strain” suffered during the fifth inning of his start on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the meantime, the club has recalled reliever Nick Wittgren from Triple-A Columbus to fill the open spot on the 25-man roster.
Only a bout with upper back tightness could prevent Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger from replicating his season debut numbers on the mound, as the right-hander worked five scoreless one-hit innings and the Indians bullpen did the rest to complete a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in a 3-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Clevinger struck out ten Jays hitters and scattered a hit and a walk in five easy innings of work. He experienced the back tightness on the second pitch of the fifth inning, but after talking it over with the Cleveland coaching and training staff after the inning, he was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons.
The schedule makers are at it again with the curious decision to send the Toronto Blue Jays to Cleveland during the first week of April to play their only four road games of the season against the Indians beginning Thursday night from Progressive Field.
The Indians (2-3) and their anemic offense struggled again with their two-game set against the Chicago White Sox. They were gifted several runs by the bad Sox bullpen in the Home Opener on Monday, and mustered two garbage time runs in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 8-3 blowout. Cleveland’s offense has put up MLB worsts across the triple slash board, hitting .160 with a .237 on-base percentage and a .231 slugging mark with just seven total extra base hits on the year.
The Cleveland bullpen allowed three runs after seven shutout innings of one-hit baseball from Mike Clevinger, but a similar disastrous effort from the Chicago White Sox allowed the Indians to rally with four runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 5-3 win in Monday’s Home Opener from Progressive Field.
Three different Tribe relievers combined for two extra base hits, a walk, a costly error, and three poorly timed runs in the top of the eighth as the dormant White Sox lineup woke up to claim a 3-1 lead. Chicago manager Rick Renteria responded with a trip to his own bullpen after seven one-run innings from Ivan Nova, but it proved to be costly.
The concerns surrounding the Cleveland Indians and their lackluster offseason were brought to the forefront over the weekend, when the offense was limited to just five runs and amassed 39 strikeouts in a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (1-2) scuffled during the opening weekend of the 2019 regular season against their number one rival in the American League Central, the Twins. While the starting pitching put together a pair of good outings and the bullpen proved serviceable in small doses, the offense was dead on arrival, mustering just two runs in a win on Saturday and three runs in garbage time on Sunday after trailing eight runs. The Indians will look to some home cooking to right the early season woes of an otherwise unpleasant experience at Target Field, as the offense looked as bad as many feared it did on paper.
After a long winter of cost-cutting and public relations nightmares in Cleveland, there is finally some baseball to talk about as the Indians meet up with their chief division rivals, the Minnesota Twins, in their first official games without their Chief Wahoo on their caps and sleeves.
The latter would not be such an issue if Tribe players took the Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn approach to pitching, but players still wear caps and sleeves at this level, son.
Major League Baseball will kick off the 2019 season with its earliest start ever (excluding international openers) as all 30 teams will take the field on March 28. Follow along with Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down the days until Opening Day 2019. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 52 days
The emergence of Tribe right-hander Mike Clevinger, the current wearer of the number 52 in Cleveland, as a solid middle of the rotation arm and a sleeper Cy Young pick for the coming season was one of many reasons why the Indians were comfortable listening to offers for front end starters like Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer during the offseason.
While the team (thus far) has elected to move forward with the present starting rotation intact, that is not necessarily a bad thing. The starting staff has been one of the stronger parts of the club and if the team did not feel that an offer on the table for one of its primo pitchers was good enough to help supplement a weakened offense (due to free agency and significant salary cuts that led to offseason trades of Yonder Alonso, Edwin Encarnacion, and Yan Gomes, among others) and a thinned out bullpen (which waved goodbye to closer Cody Allen and two-time All-Star Andrew Miller), it was best for now to keep that portion of the team full of necessary depth.
A three-run seventh gave the Houston Astros their first lead of the day and a six-run eighth buried Chief Wahoo as the Cleveland Indians were swept out of the American League Division Series in an embarrassing 11-3 shellacking on Monday afternoon from Progressive Field.
A packed house in downtown Cleveland was the site of one of the more disappointing losses in the playoff history of the Indians, who put up a pitiful last stand at their remodeled gem at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. A 2-1 lead afforded to starter Mike Clevinger was lost in the seventh as several throwing errors and the lethal bat of Indian killer Marwin Gonzalez put the Astros on top for good. The next two innings just threw more dirt on the grave of the 2018 season.
The tables have turned dramatically on the Cleveland Indians while playing in their third consecutive American League Division Series. After sweeping the Boston Red Sox in 2016 and winning the first two games of the set last season against the New York Yankees, the Indians find themselves in an 0-2 hole against the reigning champions, the Houston Astros. Cleveland will host Game 3 on Monday, and if the Indians can pull out a victory, Game 4 will take place from Progressive Field on Tuesday.
The series has not gone well for the Indians thus far. Key hitters have slumped and the team as a whole has managed just six hits through the first two contests against a notably tough Astros pitching staff. Four different batters have gone hitless in the series. The starters have given up six walks in ten innings of work, and the bullpen has surrendered four runs in six innings.
First, the bad news: the Cleveland Indians are in a 0-2 hole in their best-of-five ALDS with the Houston Astros. They face a win-or-go-home game on Monday afternoon.
As for the good news? Well, other than the biggest game of their season being at home, it may well be that the guy on the mound could be just the guy that the Indians need to kick-start what they hope will be three straight must-win games.