The Astros overcame an early two-run deficit with three runs in the fifth and five more in the sixth off of Indians starter Mike Clevinger and a bad middle relief effort again as Cleveland fell, 8-2, to Houston in game one of a four-game set from Progressive Field.
The Indians were able to do some early damage against tough right-hander Charlie Morton, who brought a perfect 6-0 record to the table on Thursday and a win against the Indians last Friday, but the Tribe pitching was not able to make a pair of third inning runs hold up. Clevinger was good early, but a home run in the fifth gave Houston the lead and things imploded in a messy sixth inning that saw four different Cleveland pitchers take the mound.
Lance McCullers took a perfect game into the sixth inning and a pair of big extra base hits in the late innings powered the Houston Astros to a 3-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday night.
While the Indians avoided some of the more productive members of the dominant Astros starting rotation, McCullers reminded the Tribe that he is just as valuable a part of that pitching mix as the rest. Making his second career start against Cleveland, he was unhittable for much of the night and was locked in an entertaining pitchers’ duel with the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, one decided late on some big extra base hits for the ‘stros.
Tyler Naquin has spent much of the last month and a half trying to prove that he can be a valuable contributor on the Cleveland Indians roster, whether it be in a starting role in right field for the time being or coming off of the bench. With an increased opportunity for playing time, he has come through with a big home run earlier this week and he extended his hitting streak to a season-high eight games on Friday with another key hit in the clutch, but the latter one will cost him some playing time.
Performing at a high level with a perfect opportunity to make a case to help out the Indians throughout the season, Naquin was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Saturday morning with a left hamstring strain. He suffered the injury running the bases after his big two-run double in the Indians’ six-run fourth inning of Friday night’s 10-9 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Over the last two weeks, the Cleveland Indians have faced a harsh reminder of the significance that Andrew Miller has on the team’s success as the bullpen has floundered in his absence while he dealt with a left hamstring strain.
The relief staff can begin to settle back in to its old roles, or at least they can within a few more days, as the Indians activated their All-Star left-hander from the 10-day disabled list and placed fellow southpaw Tyler Olson on paternity leave.
Olson could be away from the club anywhere from one to three days as a result of his placement on the temporary list.
There have been games during the Indians’ current eleven-game homestand that they had no business winning and game one of Thursday’s doubleheader with the Toronto Blue Jays was one of them. Despite rallying back several times, Cleveland ended on the losing side of a 13-11 final to Toronto on a grand slam by Yangervis Solarte in the top of the eleventh.
On what was scheduled to be a busy day at Progressive Field for the Indians and Blue Jays Thursday, the long day was prolonged by a nearly two-hour long rain delay before the day’s festivities finally got under way. Instead of sticking to the script and playing a traditional nine-inning affair before jumping into game two, the two clubs decided that four hours and 47 minutes would be needed to determine a winner.
There was a time, around this point last season, in which many people thought All-Star left-handed reliever Andrew Miller may be the most indispensable player on the Cleveland Indians roster. Indeed, he is extremely important to the ball club and its fortunes. The 2016 MVP of the American League Championship Series remains one of game’s best bullpen arms and is probably the best hurler out of Tribe manager Terry Francona‘s very talented bullpen. However, with injuries to their star relief ace last year, the Indians learned that their season does not need to be derailed without the big southpaw they added at the 2016 traded deadline.
What the Tribe, instead, learned a season ago is that it has another very good left-handed relief option in Tyler Olson. Olson is not in the class of Miller, though few are. Olson, however, may be coming into his own as a Major League pitcher in his late 20s.
There was no fooling around this April Fool’s Day as offense was again the story from Safeco Field as Seattle and the Cleveland Indians combined for four home runs in a 5-4 slugfest that went in favor of the home Mariners.
While the long ball would tell the tale on Sunday afternoon, it was a two-out base knock that started the scoring on the day for the Indians against Mariners right-hander Mike Leake. After Edwin Encarnacion struck out looking to start the second inning, Lonnie Chisenhall singled to right and Roberto Perez worked a walk. A fly to left from Tyler Naquin left the inning in the balance, but Bradley Zimmer drove a sinker to left for an RBI-single to put the Indians on top, 1-0.
Edwin Encarnacion and Francisco Lindor each homered and the Cleveland relief corps handled the rest on Thursday as the Indians completed the three-game sweep in Anaheim of the Los Angeles Angels, 4-1.
It was a “bullpen day” kind of effort on the mound for the Indians (96-57), who used six different pitchers to wrap up the season series sweep of the Angels while remaining a game in back of the neighbor Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball. The win increased the Indians’ club record for consecutive road wins to 14 in a row while putting the Tribe at a 27-1 mark in its last 28 games. That feat has been accomplished just three times in Major League Baseball history.
Everyone knows about one left-handed reliever that the Cleveland Indians acquired last July. The trade for Andrew Miller proved to be an important one for the Tribe as the relief ace and 2016 American League Championship Series MVP helped lead the way in October all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
The magnificent Miller was not the only lefty the Indians added last July – he was the only one that made shock waves. However, Tyler Olson is now making some waves of his own. Before the blockbuster trade-deadline deal for Miller, Cleveland claimed Olson off waivers from the Kansas City Royals. The largely unheralded and barely mentioned move happened on July 9, 2016, a little more than three weeks before Miller traded in his Yankees pinstripes for Tribe red, white, and blue.
For several years, the Indians have thrown darts at the dart board and putty at a wall to simply see what sticks when it comes to left-handed relievers. Before Miller, the bullpen was a revolving door of left-handed specialists who failed to get much done in Cleveland. Managers like to have two southpaws that they can count out of the ‘pen. Tribe skipper Terry Francona has been lucky to have one such arm to turn to since coming to Cleveland in 2013.
Injuries have piled up rapidly for the Cleveland Indians and Wednesday’s disappointing collapse in San Francisco added another name to the list of walking wounded.
Boone Logan left the mound in what looked to be a great deal of pain after walking the Giants’ Brandon Belt in the eighth inning and headed straight to the clubhouse with what the team described at the time as a left latissimus dorsi strain. After undergoing an MRI on Thursday in Cleveland, the team announced on Friday that the left-handed reliever had been placed on the 10-day disabled list.
“At the minimum, he’s going to miss significant time,” shared manager Terry Francona prior to Friday’s contest with the Toronto Blue Jays. “There’s not really anything other than that right now. He tore that muscle. He’s going to be down for a while.”
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon that the guest list for Spring Training at their Goodyear, Arizona, complex beginning in February has grown by eight.
The Tribe will welcome minor league pitchers Josh Martin and Tyler Olson, infielders Nellie Rodriguez, Ronny Rodriguez, and Eric Stamets, outfielders Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer, and utility man Yandy Diaz to their spring camp on non-roster invites.
The eight will audition for jobs with the Indians while getting a good opportunity to warm up for the 2017 season against other Major League caliber competition.