When the Cleveland Indians and Texas Rangers last met, the two clubs opened the 2017 season. Hopes were high for both teams, as each was coming off of a trip to the 2016 postseason after strong campaigns and both were expected to be contenders once again. While both clubs remain contenders in their own right, their respective seasons may not be going as many had expected.
The Indians (39-35) have yet to find the magic recipe to sustained success. The starting rotation has had some struggles with injuries and varying results. The bullpen has been steady, statistically one of the best in the game, but has had its edge-of-the-seat moments. The offense has been a head scratcher at times, producing runs in bulk in stretches before series like this past weekend, when the club mustered just two runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins on the heels of an offensive eruption during a 7-1 road trip. Even worse, home has not been a sweet home for the Indians, as they are one of just two American League clubs (see: Twins) to post a losing record at home (15-20). In the Tribe’s favor this week in their matchup with Texas is an impressive 13-3- start against the AL West this season.
It was a night of few opportunities for the Indians, who were facing the second-year left-hander Mejia for the second time in a week. The chances that Cleveland had were squandered away as the bats could do little against Minnesota pitching.
The Cleveland Indians may have broken the spirit of the Minnesota Twins last weekend, when the Tribe swept the young club and knocked them out of first place. The Twins will look to return the favor and gain some ground back in the American League Central Division beginning Friday night, when Minnesota and Cleveland begin their three-game series from Progressive Field.
The Indians (39-32) have gotten hot and stayed hot, beginning with their four-game sweep of the Twins (36-34) during the successful start to their eight-game road trip. They won seven games on the road to pull two and a half games in front of the Twins in the division. Including their victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final game of their homestand two Thursdays ago, the Indians have outscored their opponents, 68-23, in their last nine games. The hot stretch includes a season-high tying six game winning streak.
The Cleveland Indians completed a very emphatic display this weekend as strong pitching from Trevor Bauer and a pair of home runs from Edwin Encarnacion helped the Indians complete a four-game sweep in Minnesota over the Twins with a 5-2 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The fifth straight victory for the Indians (36-31) moved the club’s record to a season-high five games above the .500 mark. Trailing the Twins (34-33) by a pair of games at the outset of the series, the Tribe gained four games with the four wins and now hold a two-game lead over the young Twins team.
A strong performance from Bauer helped pace the Indians as he moved to the winning side of the season ledger with another victory over the Twins this season. Making his third start against Minnesota after winning each of his first two, he did not allow a run until his final inning of work and retired 15 straight batters at one stretch.
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.
Cody Bellinger hit a pair of home runs and Los Angeles held off a late rally as the Dodgers defeated the Indians in a rare trip to Cleveland, 7-5, on Tuesday night.
Playing just the tenth regular season matchup in the long history of the two historic franchises, the Dodgers got the usual dominant performance from left-hander Clayton Kershaw. He would not go unscathed on the night but held on just long enough to earn his ninth win of the season.
A better weekend from the Cleveland Indians against the Chicago White Sox kept them above the .500 mark and still within striking distance of the first place Minnesota Twins. Their next opponent, however, is one of the best in the National League and unfamiliar opposition if ever there was such a thing.
The Indians (31-29) will host the Los Angeles Dodgers (39-25) this week for just the second time in the regular season. The series will be the fourth between the two clubs; the Indians have won four of the previous matchups while the Dodgers have claimed five. The two teams last met in 2014 in Los Angeles, where the Indians won two of the three matchups. They previously played in LA in 2008, and the first regular season series between the two clubs occurred in 2003, when the Indians were swept on their home field by the visiting club.
These games, of course, do not include the Indians’ win in the 1920 World Series against the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games in the best-of-nine championship bout.
The Rockies finished off the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday afternoon behind a strong start from left-hander Kyle Freeland and another offensive explosion from the Rockies bats in an 8-1 victory.
Freeland earned his seventh win of the year behind six and one-third quality innings on the mound. He needed 100 pitches to hold the Indians to a run on six hits with five strikeouts. The lone damage against him came on the second-to-last batter that he faced as Jose Ramirez took him deep in the seventh for the Indians’ only run on the afternoon.
The Indians’ interleague tour of the National League West continues this week as Cleveland travels a mile high to Denver for a brief two-game set with the Colorado Rockies this week.
The Indians (29-26) could benefit from a trip out of the division. Their recently completed series with the Kansas City Royals highlighted an issue this season – too much time playing in the AL Central. The Indians fell to 4-5 against the Royals by dropping two of three over the weekend, which lowered their record in the division to 13-14. Interleague play has been a similar story for the club, as they have lost series to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cincinnati Reds thus far this season to post a 1-5 record against National League opponents.
Things would be much different for the Cleveland Indians if they could just play the American League West all season. With a series win in four games over the Oakland Athletics during the week, the team improved to 13-3 against the westernmost division in the AL. The club departed Cleveland and headed west after its series with the A’s to take on Kansas City for three games for the second consecutive weekend of play against the Royals.
The Indians (28-24) did not start their homestand on a good note as they lost one game to rain and three straight to the Cincinnati Reds and the Royals. The Kansas City club put 6-4 and 5-2 victories on the Indians in the first two games of their series to drop the Indians to a game above the .500 mark, but the Tribe recovered with a resounding 10-1 victory in the finale of that series. They followed it up with much better results against the second-worst team in the league, the A’s, by outscoring them 23-10 in taking three of four.
Throughout his career, Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer has shown glimpses of what made him the third overall selection in the 2011 draft. Tuesday night was one such night as he struck out a career-high and American League season-high 14 Oakland hitters and the Indians used a seven-run outburst in the middle innings to defeat the A’s, 9-4.
The Indians (27-23) pushed their winning streak to three straight and continued their dominance of the American League West Division. The club has now won seven straight against the AL West and improved to 12-2 overall against the division after posting a 3-0 mark against Texas, a 2-1 record against Seattle, and a 5-1 advantage over Houston.
While Bauer was cutting up the Oakland lineup, it did not come without some complications as the A’s held a 3-0 lead before Cleveland would tally its first run. After getting some help from his friends, Bauer made sure his new found lead would stand up.
The loudest ovation to come from Progressive Field on Monday afternoon when the Indians host the A’s may very well come for one of the visitors.
And that is absolutely okay and appropriate.