It doesn’t get much more exciting than a closeout game in the playoffs, but one thing is for certain – it does horrible work on the heart, the mind, and the stomach, especially if you’re a fan of the team that lost a 2-0 lead.
The Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees will play one final game on Wednesday night to declare a winner in their American League Division Series matchup, one that has teetered in favor of the home club throughout the first four games. To the benefit of the Indians, they have returned to their home at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland, hoping to defend their home turf and, more importantly, their title as the reigning champions of the American League while punching their ticket to an American League Championship Series meeting with the Houston Astros. The Tribe has not lost three consecutive games since the start of the second half of the season, when it lost four straight wrapped around the All-Star break.
Things have not gone the way that Yan Gomes would have wanted them to over the last couple of years. Signed to a big contract extension in 2014, he has struggled with his performance at the plate, dealt with several injuries, and watched as his playing time has dwindled into a time share with fellow backstop Roberto Perez. Late season injuries deprived him of a significant role for the Indians in their incredible run through the postseason in 2016, as he appeared solely in the World Series and was 0-for-4, grounding into a double play and striking out twice.
He made sure his first start of the 2017 playoffs was one that he and Indians fans everywhere will not soon forget. His 13th inning walk-off single down the left field line capped six unanswered runs by the Indians as they completed an improbable comeback win over the New York Yankees to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series Friday night.
In 2007, CC Sabathia was on the mound for Cleveland in the postseason at the tail end of a Cy Young Award winning year for the Indians as he became the second Tribe pitcher to ever bring home the top pitching award of a season. Seven years later, Corey Kluber joined him on that short list when he became the fourth Indians hurler to be recognized as the American League’s top pitcher.
On Friday night, the two will square off from opposite sides in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Danny Salazar made his case for a role on the Indians’ postseason roster with four and two-thirds innings of strong starting pitching and the Cleveland bats provided just enough offense as the Tribe held on for a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night
The Indians (99-59) held off the Twins offense one night after it erupted for 17 hits against the Tribe pitching staff. With a chance to secure an on-the-field celebration of a trip to the 2017 playoffs, the Twins instead had to postpone their party for several hours until the Los Angeles Angels fell 6-4 in extra innings to the Chicago White Sox, punching Minnesota’s postseason ticket.
The Indians took the lead on the first batter of the afternoon and never looked back on Saturday as Cleveland used four long balls to defeat the Seattle Mariners by an 11-4 final.
The game was a bit closer than the final score implied as it was still a two-run contest in the sixth when Carlos Carrasco exited one of his final starts of the regular season. With Seattle on the board for the first time in the sixth, the Indians responded by putting up eight runs over the final three innings to erase all doubt. Seattle did not help its cause throughout the contest, committing five errors and several other blunders that could have easily joined them on the stat sheet.
The Cleveland Indians sent a very loud message to the Kansas City Royals when the two clubs met six times over two series in August. The Tribe took two of three early in the month, outscoring KC 22-5, and then swept a later set in Cleveland, putting up three straight shutouts while tallying 20 runs of their own.
The Royals will try to change that trend during a four-game weekend series with the Indians in Cleveland, but will have the daunting task of trying to stop the Indians’ 21-game winning streak first.
The game may have started chaotic from Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday night, but things settled into a far more normal outcome as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox by a 9-4 final.
The Indians (82-56) extended their MLB-best winning streak to 13 straight games and moved to 9-0 on their current eleven-game road trip. The success on the road also moved the team to 46-27 on the year away from Progressive Field, giving the team its most road wins since the club went 46-26 in the strike-shortened 1995 season. Three championship contending clubs in franchise history remain on the all-time road wins list above them currently, including the 52-win 1954 squad, the 49-win 1948 team, and the 47-win first-time champions in 1920.
During their 13-game streak, Cleveland has outscored its competition, 93-25.
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.
A three-run first inning and a nine-run second provided more than enough support for Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, who combined with two relievers to complete the Indians’ third straight shutout of Kansas City over the weekend with a 12-0 rout of the Royals on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians improved to a season-best 17 games over the .500 mark at 73-56 with their fourth straight win. The Tribe’s shutout of the Royals was their sixth over Kansas City this season and increased their Major League lead in scoreless ball games to 15. The Royals dropped back below even on the season at 64-65 and now trail the Tribe by nine games in the American League Central Division.
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.
Home field advantage has not applied to Target Field for the Minnesota Twins when facing the Cleveland Indians this season. The Tribe improved to 9-0 in Minneapolis this season behind a 9-3 victory in game one of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday afternoon.
The game was a bit closer than the final score indicated, as the Indians tacked on six runs in the final two frames to blow open the contest. Carlos Carrasco worked around some early difficulties and five relievers had to combine to close out the game, temporarily making things close in the bottom of the seventh before the bats came to the rescue.
For 26 outs, the Cleveland Indians had just four hits to show against the Colorado Rockies and looked to be in severe jeopardy of wasting nine fantastic innings of one-run baseball by Corey Kluber. That 27th and final out would never come, as the Indians rallied for four runs, including a game-tying two-out bloop single by Austin Jackson and the game-winning three-run home run from Yan Gomes as Cleveland stunned Colorado and All-Star closer Greg Holland with the improbable comeback and a walk-off victory.
Trailing all night after a first inning, second pitch home run from center fielder Charlie Blackmon off of Kluber to start the game, the Indians headed to the ninth in an offensive funk after missing on the handful of opportunities that they had over the course of the evening. The odds looked stacked against them as the flat offense had to face Holland, who entered with a tiny 1.96 ERA on the season and plenty of previous experience against the Indians to call upon from his days as a Kansas City Royal.