The Tampa Bay Rays won their Home Run Derby competition with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Tuesday night with a 6-4 victory to even the series at one game apiece.
While the 2019 All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby may still be several years away, Danny Salazar looked the part of the fan-driven exhibition’s pitcher in a strange outing for the Indians right-hander. He gave Cleveland five-plus innings of work on the mound, but four homers offset a nine-strikeout performance and proved to be too much to overcome, despite the Indians dealing Rays starter Jake Odorizzi his worst start since his first outing of the season.
A busy week of roster transactions continued on Tuesday as the Cleveland Indians made five roster moves prior to their game with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The biggest of the moves is the promotion of top prospect Bradley Zimmer to the big league club. The addition of the fourth-year pro, who can play both center and right field, became a necessity when Abraham Almonte was placed on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday with a right biceps strain.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Tuesday afternoon that outfielder Austin Jackson had been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left great toe hyperextension. Reliever Shawn Armstrong was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to fill his spot on the 25-man roster.
Jackson was hurt in Monday night’s 7-1 loss in Detroit in the ninth inning. On a slow roller in the infield, Jackson hustled down the line and landed awkwardly on first base and was removed from the game for pinch-runner Abraham Almonte.
After needing five pitchers (including utility man Michael Martinez) to finish the final seven and one-third innings of Thursday’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, the depleted Cleveland Indians bullpen will get a reinforcement in time for the weekend series with the Detroit Tigers. Reliever Nick Goody was recalled by the club on Friday from Triple-A Columbus and right-hander Shawn Armstrong was sent down to the Clippers after working a career-high two and one-third innings in the defeat.
A lot of years it seems as though the Cleveland Indians go into spring training with countless veteran and minor league pitchers looking to fill the void of several open bullpen spots.
This 2017 spring camp is not exactly like a lot of years.
As in past offseasons, the Tribe did invite a good number of veterans looking for work, as well as young hurlers, to Goodyear, Arizona, for spring training. Part of the infusion of a large number of arms was due to the recently ended World Baseball Classic and the need to fill the void left behind by players going off to represent their countries in the event that goes on every four years.
Unlike past Februaries and Marches in the Arizona sun, there is not much of a void for the Indians to fill in a loaded bullpen that rates among the best in the game. There are a lot pitchers in camp looking for a job, but that opportunity is very elusive.
Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 51
The number 51 has rarely been a sign of longevity for careers in a Cleveland Indians uniform. Just seven times since the number hit the field in 1929 has it been worn by the same player across multiple seasons on the shores of Lake Erie.
Right-hander Shawn Armstrong is the current 51 on the Indians roster, but his spot with the club for the coming 2017 season is hardly guaranteed. He spent the last two seasons shuttling back and forth between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus oftentimes in the final spot on the 25-man roster.
The 26-year-old will look to do his best to make an impact later this month as players report to Goodyear, Arizona. Manager Terry Francona’s bullpen is far from settled, but with the offseason acquisition of left-hander Boone Logan occupying one spot, there may only be a spot or two up for grabs for the remaining options coming to camp.
With overall positive marks on his stat sheet in his debut season in 2015, right-handed reliever Shawn Armstrong looked to be a potential option for the Indians bullpen for the next season. But while the Cleveland bullpen appeared at times to use a revolving door while players shuttled back and forth between Triple-A Columbus and the parent Indians roster, Armstrong did not get his first consistent taste of the Bigs again until the season’s final month.
In his fifth season in the Cleveland organization in 2015, Armstrong went 1-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 1.27 WHIP while working as a late inning option for the Clippers. He made a pair of appearances for the Indians in the first half of August that season and got a call-up for the final month when rosters expanded, finishing the season with eight games worked while failing to notch a decision for Cleveland.
While the focus right now may be on the Cleveland Indians’ Major League roster, things are going well throughout the Tribe’s farm system as well.
The importance on drafting strong and developing stronger is no more apparent than at the Major League level for the Indians. The current playoff roster is well-balanced between guys drafted/signed internationally and developed solely by the club (Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Cody Allen to name a few), others acquired via trades and developed on the farm (Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana, and other absentee names like Carlos Carrasco, Michael Brantley, and Yan Gomes), and other veterans still who were added via big trades or free agent moves (Andrew Miller, Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, and Coco Crisp).
The names that compose the roster now all worked their way up through the minor league system, whether in the Indians organization or elsewhere. The names of the future are doing the same and some standout performers were recognized this week when MILB.com announced its picks for Cleveland’s organizational All-Stars.
The Lake County Captains are playing out the string as they finish their 2016 regular season on the outside of the Midwest League’s playoff picture.
A tough series with the Bowling Green Hot Rods from August 22 to 25 effectively spelled the end of the run for the Captains (71-68), who dropped five in a row in the series. They bounced back with three straight wins against Lansing before dropping the finale with the Lugnuts and went on the road to Dayton, winning the first game of the series before dropping the final two contests. They have split a pair with Lansing in the final games of the season, with a 1:00 PM start on Monday marking the final game on the 2016 calendar for the Captains.
In other news and notes from the Captains’ log:
The Columbus Clippers punched their ticket to the postseason on Wednesday, clinching their third straight International League West Division crown. They still have to wait to see who they may see in the playoffs, as the other two divisions still need some time to be decided.
The Clippers (78-56) extended their winning streak to nine straight games during the week before dropping each game of a two-game set in Toledo with the Mud Hens on Thursday and Friday. They completed a sweep of Toledo in Columbus just last weekend before taking three straight in Indianapolis during the week to clinch their playoff berth. They will wrap up the month with two at home against Louisville before going to Durham for three straight. September will open with three home dates against the Mud Hens before the two teams return to Toledo for two more to close out the regular season.
In other Clippers news and notes from the Ohio state capital:
Ryan Merritt followed up a strong effort during his time with the parent Cleveland Indians by combining with two relievers on a four-hit shutout on Friday night in the Clippers’ 1-0 win over the Syracuse Chiefs. The only run on the night came courtesy of a solo home run by Erik Gonzalez in the sixth inning off of Washington pitching prospect Lucas Giolito as the Clippers would be held to just three hits themselves on the night.
Columbus (68-53) has gotten hot at the right time, starting the month of August with an 8-4 record to push their lead in the International League’s West Division to eight games over the rival Indianapolis Indians and nine games over the third place Louisville Bats. Their record is good for the third-best mark across the IL landscape, trailing only the marks of the North Division’s Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (75-44) and Lehigh Valley IronPigs (71-48).
The Clippers wrapped up their series with Louisville by taking the final two games to go 3-1 against them, then took two of three in Toledo against the Mud Hens. They will finish their three-game set this weekend against Syracuse before continuing their homestand with three against Durham and three more with Toledo.
In other news and Clipnotes regarding the Clippers pitching staff:
Two very different All-Star games took place on Wednesday with two very distinctly different results as the Double-A Eastern League and Triple-A International League participated in their own midsummer classics.
The Double-A All-Star Game pitted the Eastern and Western Division clubs against one another from Akron’s own Canal Park. The Triple-A contest featured the International League versus the Pacific Coast League from BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, North Carolina.