Join Did The Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to Opening Day!
Countdown to Opening Day – 58 days
The number 58 may be a bit of a bad omen for its wearers, at least in Cleveland Indians history. Many have worn it, but few have parlayed that time and opportunity into an extended stay, either in an Indians uniform or among the remaining Major League options from which to choose.
The most recent to sport 58 on the field for the Tribe was T.J. House, a soft-tossing left-hander who impressed with a surprise effort in his debut season in 2014.
The team that helped the Columbus Clippers claim the International League West Division crown will not be the same team that tries to advance to the Governors Cup later in the month. The September call-ups have deprived the Clippers of several weapons from their bullpen and several more regular contributors from their every day lineup.
With the division already locked up, the Clippers (80-61) have gone on a bit of a losing skid, dropping three straight, four of their last five, and six of their last eight. Despite the tough stretch with the roster in a state of flux, their lead over Indianapolis and Louisville sits at eleven games heading into action over the weekend. They will wrap up their season with one more at home against Toledo before heading to the northwest corner of the state for two more against the Mud Hens before the playoffs start on Wednesday. In addition to the Clippers, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the North Division have locked up playoffs spots, with the South Division completely up for grabs between four teams who will all finish with records below .500.
In other Clippers news and notes from the Ohio state capital:
The bullpen door for the Cleveland Indians went from under-used to over-used in a heartbeat. Now, it has become a revolving one as on Monday afternoon, the club announced that a pair of relievers, left-hander Tom Gorzelanny and right-hander Joba Chamberlain, had been designated for assignment.
In a related move, the Indians have recalled right-handed starter Mike Clevinger and left-handed reliever T.J. House from Triple-A Columbus. Both pitchers, who have extensive starting experience in their professional careers, are expected to work out of the bullpen.
If you have not paid attention to the results down in Columbus for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A farm club, the Clippers, you have missed out on an impressive stretch of baseball being played right now.
Since a four-game losing streak in the days following four postponements in a five-day span and a pair of early April doubleheaders, the Clippers have sailed away to an incredible start. Since ending their losing skid against Indianapolis on April 16, the club has gone 16-4.
They dropped just two more games in the second half of April, losing a series in Louisville against the Bats. The Clippers then ripped off eleven straight wins before losing the series opener and the rubber match in Charlotte against the Knights. They got back onto the winning path on Friday with a 9-2 victory in Toledo over the Mud Hens in a well-pitched game from Indians pitching prospect Mike Clevinger, who improved to 4-0 in six starts this season with a 3.03 ERA.
A year ago, Indians fans were busy discussing if the team had enough rotation depth to find their fourth and fifth starters. Heck, even their third man was up for debate. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco had strong 2014 seasons, but Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer remained question marks for the team. Carrasco hadn’t even had a full strong season, instead emerging in the second half of 2014 as a dominant starter after having spent time in the bullpen and AAA. Kluber was, arguably, the only starter in whom the team could place extreme confidence.
What a difference a year can make.
This past season, the Indians emerged as having one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar and Bauer cemented themselves as a dominant, fearful starting four. The big question now, however, pertains to the last spot in the rotation – the fifth man.
To talk about the Indians this season is to talk about spotty play and trying to figure out ways to make the current roster pop. You talk about inconsistent offense and, at times, horrible defense, and you talk about being strapped by huge contracts for players who aren’t really producing. You talk about a shaky bullpen.
You also talk about phenomenal starting pitching.
The Indians have what you can call the Big Four – four of the best starting pitchers in the game of baseball in Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar. Although their records don’t necessarily reflect it, these four pitchers are some of the best on the mound. They can compile strikes and hold opposing batters to minimal offense based on their skill alone, although the defense that is behind them can often try to paint a different picture. More often than not, the runs scored off these pitchers are the result of sloppy play in the field, and not their actual talent.
Cleveland announced Sunday that catcher Yan Gomes and pitcher T.J. House will join the Columbus Clippers to continue their rehab assignments on Monday. House is scheduled to start for the Clippers on Wednesday against Buffalo.
Gomes and House started their rehab assignments with Class-A Lake County, where both looked sharp. In two games with Lake County, Gomes went 2-4 at the plate and scored a run. House struck out five over three scoreless innings in a start against the Dayton Dragons on May 15. Gomes caught all three of House’s innings on the hill.
Lake County Captains fans were treated to a Major League duo Friday night in Eastlake, as catcher Yan Gomes and lefty T.J. House started their rehab assignments with the Indians’ Low-A minor league affiliate.
House has been on the DL with a sore left shoulder since May 1. Prior to his injury, House was 0-4 with a 13.15 ERA in four starts for the Indians. He threw three innings for the Captains on Friday at the same field where he spent his 2009 season, allowing no runs but giving up a ground-rule double in the top of the third inning. He struck out five batters in his three-innings of work.
Coming into the season, the Indians rotation was heralded as one of the strongest aspects of the team. At it’s strongest, it boasted the American League Cy Young award winner, a starter turned reliever turned starter who had one of the most impressive ends to a season, and a youngster on the brink of a breakout career. The names to fill in the back of the rotation were hardly names to scoff at, though fans and the team likely knew that there would be some back and forth in filling out the rotation before a solid,full group was chosen.
However, it was unlikely that fans – or the team – anticipated such a chaotic rotation situation.
Corey Kluber has not pitched as he did to close out last season, though his numbers mirror what they did last April. It’s not cause for much concern at all – he still leads the team with 36 strikeouts. Sure, he doesn’t have any wins yet this year, but that is not wholly his fault at all. It’s hard for a pitcher to rack up wins when he has no run support and flawed defensive help behind him.
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? Nope. Despite forcing Toronto starter Daniel Norris to throw 77 pitches in the first three innings, the paltry Indians offense was unable to score a run early. Meanwhile, T.J. House got nine ground ball outs in the first three frames and was quite pitch-efficient.
However, things changed fast in the top of the fourth inning when a walk and four straight hits to start the inning chased House from the game after allowing four runs. After a walk and a single by Edwin Encarnacion, Danny Valencia singled in a run and Russell Martin doubled in another and Kevin Pillar doubled in a pair to end House’s night at 4-0. Ryan Webb made his Indians debut before allowing another run to score and be charged to House.
Jeff Francis came on for Toronto and worked two and one-third innings, scattering three hits and allowing just one run to lead the Blue Jays to a 5-1 victory at Progressive Field. The win opens a four game series for Toronto and ends a very disappointing first month for the Indians. Cleveland had 11 hits on the evening, but couldn’t string them together to produce some runs.
WP: Francis (1-0) LP: House (0-4)
Key Inning: Bottom of the 2nd inning. The Indians had a chance to take an early lead against Norris and the Blue Jays. With one out, Ryan Raburn singled before Lonnie Chisenhall and Roberto Perez each walked to load the bases. With Norris having control problems, it looked like Cleveland had a great chance to put together a big inning. However, Michael Bourn popped out on the infield to second base and Jason Kipnis ended the inning with a line out to left field.
“We won a game yesterday. We win one today, that’s “two in a row”. We win one tomorrow, that’s called a “winning streak”. It has happened before…” – Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, probably. But actually, spoken by fictional Indians manager Lou Brown in the movie Major League II.
Maybe the Indians could use an unfamiliar face, as all of the usual suspects in April have been unfriendly. Cleveland will welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to town on Thursday for a four-game set, marking the first non-American League Central rival to grace the grass at Progressive Field this season and just the second non-divisional opponent to suit up against the Indians this season.
Did the Tribe Win Last Night? Nope. After the Indians tallied 13 runs on Friday night, Trevor Bauer ate something that made them just as contagious for him. After trying to give it a go, he had to be scratched prior to game time and T.J. House was a last minute replacement.
House struggled early, allowing a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning and another in the third. The soft-tossing, left-hander only survived three innings despite having not pitched since last Sunday. The Tribe’s bullpen only allowed one run over the final five innings, but Alfredo Simon shut the Indians’ offense down. After banging out 15 hits on Friday evening, Simon allowed just six over 6.2 innings and the Tigers snapped their four game losing streak, beating the Tribe 4-1.
WP: Simon (4-0) LP: House (0-3) SV: Soria (6)
Key Inning: Bottom of the first inning. With short notice and preparation, House took the mound against a Tigers lineup that knocked him around the park 13 days ago. He allowed two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but it could have been much worse.