The Indians waited and waited and waited some more, but finally on Tuesday afternoon, they could wait no longer for Bradley Zimmer‘s injuries to heal up.
The Tribe officially placed their starting center fielder on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday, retroactive to May 12, with a left rib contusion. The injury was the end result of a collision with the wall at Yankee Stadium two Saturdays ago. He had missed six games and had two off days since the ill-fated wall encounter, but has still experienced discomfort while swinging. After missing the finale of the series with the Yankees, he played in the second of two games in Milwaukee against the Brewers, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout on May 9. After Thursday’s off day, he missed the entire series against the Kansas City Royals and the opener of the current series with the Detroit Tigers on Monday.
The Indians placed the ball in the hands of rookie left-handed hurler Ryan Merritt, who channeled his inner Gene Bearden while making just his fifth Major League appearance, in blanking the Toronto Blue Jays for four and one-third innings as Cleveland clinched the American League pennant with a 3-0 shutout at Rogers Centre.
Ryan Merritt made his second consecutive strong spot start and the Cleveland bats came alive as the Indians completed the rare three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium with a 9-4 win over the New York Yankees in game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
The Indians (76-56) will take a well deserved Thursday off, holding a voluntary practice session in Detroit prior to their four-game series against the Tigers this weekend that includes another doubleheader on Friday night. They moved to 19-9 in the month of August and have a seven-game lead in the American League Central at day’s end as Minnesota defeated the Chicago White Sox for the second consecutive night with an 11-1 victory to improve to 19-10 in the month.
Rains in New York on Tuesday forced the cancellation of the 7:05 PM ET game between the Yankees and the visiting Cleveland Indians.
The middle game of the three-game set between two of the top teams in the American League will be rescheduled for Wednesday afternoon as part of a traditional twin bill from Yankee Stadium.
Tuesday’s originally scheduled probables, right-hander Trevor Bauer (13-8, 4.59 ERA) and left-hander Jaime Garcia (5-8, 4.52), will get the call in the first game of Wednesday’s double dip at 1:05 PM ET.
Earlier in the month, the Indians brought 12-year veteran reliever Craig Breslow back to the organization on a minor league contract. On Saturday, the club officially added him to the 25- and 40-man rosters to help the relief staff with the loss of Andrew Miller.
In order to get Breslow on the active roster, the Indians needed to make a pair of roster moves. Left-hander Ryan Merritt, one day after a stellar start against the Kansas City Royals, was optioned to Triple-A Columbus. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, recently acquired right-hander Diego Moreno was designated for assignment. Moreno had been pitching with the Columbus team after being acquired from Tampa Bay at the end of July.
The circumstances were not too much for Merritt, who was certainly not shaking in his boots on Friday, as he gave the Indians a career-high six and two-thirds scoreless innings on the mound as Cleveland defeated Kansas City behind a 4-0 shutout.
Merritt had big shoes to fill but did the job admirably in front of a packed house at Progressive Field, holding a veteran Royals lineup to seven scattered hits. Three other relievers followed him to the mound and completed the eight-hit shutout as the Indians (71-56) kept a five and a half game lead in the AL Central over the Minnesota Twins while pushing the Royals (64-63) another game back in the standings, where they now trail the Tribe by seven games.
There has not been a lot of variety to the schedules of the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals over the course of the last week. After the Indians took two of three in Kansas City last weekend, the two teams got a brief reprieve, but now the Royals come to town this weekend for a three-game series at Progressive Field.
The Indians (70-56) have endured a tough stretch of the schedule and a steady growth of players on the disabled list. Despite that, they have played well and split the first four games of their homestand during the week with the Boston Red Sox. Cleveland sits at 33-29 at home with a run differential of +70 at Progressive Field this season. With two more wins over the last six games of the month, the Indians can match their month-high of 15 wins, done in each of the last two months of the schedule. They will need to keep on winning to hold off the second place Minnesota Twins, who sit just five and a half in back of the Tribe.
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.
Series in mid-June can rarely be deemed must-win series, but this weekend’s matchup between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins had the potential to be a statement set for either of the two clubs. Through the first two games, the Indians can claim to have made the loudest noise as Jose Ramirez and Bradley Zimmer each drove in four runs as Cleveland took game one of Saturday’s doubleheader with Minnesota, 9-3, from Target Field.
Having to rely on a pair of arms from the minor leagues to complete the day’s double dip, the Indians started the first half of a long day of baseball the right way as the Cleveland offense paced second-year left-hander Ryan Merritt to an early lead and expanded that advantage in the middle frames for a big win.
While things have not gone as planned for the Cleveland Indians this season, the opposite might be said for the American League Central’s top club, the Minnesota Twins (34-29). The Twin Cities representative remains atop the division, holding a two-game lead over the Indians despite being outscored by their opposition this season. Injuries have knocked out several veteran pitchers from the starting rotation, and yet with a patchwork staff, the Twins have continued to chug along. They have held at least a share of the number one spot in the Central since the second week of May.
The Indians (32-31) will need to take advantage of the series’ location this weekend as the two teams meet for a four-game series, with Saturday serving as a doubleheader day for the two clubs to make up a previous rainout. The Twins have not had a ton of success against the Indians, as they have dropped four of the six games played between the two clubs this season. The Indians will need to take advantage of the Twins’ struggles at Target Field this season, as Minnesota is just 14-20 at home, compared to 20-9 on the road.
A quality start by left-hander Shawn Morimando sent the Columbus Clippers to an 8-1 victory over rival Indianapolis on Friday night.
With less than a month to go until the All-Star break, the Clippers have climbed back within two games of the .500 mark at 29-31 on the season. Their surge towards a winning record has been made possible by a 6-2 record in June. The bats in general have come to life for the Clippers over the course of the last three weeks, as since the final week of May, they have put up six runs or more in eight of the 15 games played.
The home woes continued for the Columbus Clippers this week as their roster is light several of its steady contributors in recent seasons.
At 16-19, the Clippers are just a game and a half behind the first place Toledo Mud Hens and a game in back of the second place Indianapolis Indians in the International League’s West Division, despite a shaky start. They have played the second-fewest home games in the IL this season, with just a dozen contests at Huntington Park this season, but that could be a good thing as they have gone 3-9 when playing hosts.