For the third season in a row, there will be meaningful October baseball for the Cleveland Indians organization. The American League Division Series will kick off Friday afternoon from Minute Maid Park where the Houston Astros will play host in their quest for a second straight World Series title.
For the Indians (91-71), it was an underwhelming season in an easy division as the American League Central crown was nearly awarded them in spring training. While the cakewalk schedule may have led to mixed results throughout the season, the offense still wowed with the third-most runs scored in the game (818, trailing only Boston and New York) while the team put up a strong +170 run differential. The bats struck out the fewest times in baseball and on the base paths the team picked off 135 bases to lead the Majors. The Indians play with extra motivation, looking to make up for their disappointing first round exit after losing a 2-0 lead a season ago in the ALDS against the New York Yankees.
For the second straight night, the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox needed eleven innings to decide a winner. And for the second straight night, it was the Indians who came away victorious as Greg Allen delivered a bases loaded single with one out to give Cleveland a walk-off win in the final home game of the 2018 season.
The early innings provided a back-and-forth contest as the Indians fell behind early before a big three-run outburst in the fourth. The lead lasted for just a batter, and then both offenses went silent until the Cleveland lineup found the plate one final time.
The final homestand of the season continues for the Indians on Tuesday night as Cleveland hosts the Chicago White Sox in a three-game midweek set.
The Indians (83-66) continued their sleep walk through September, falling to 6-9 on the year after dropping two of three to Detroit over the weekend. While the team is winning at just a 40% clip in September, they still have managed to outscore the opposition by 12 runs. The Indians have lost or tied four of their five series in the month. They have defeated the White Sox ten times in 13 tries this season (outscoring them 73-34) with two series left in September.
It was another bad day for the Cleveland Indians bullpen on Wednesday, as they lost an All-Star reliever early in the afternoon before their all-time saves leader blew a 3-2 lead in the seventh inning of a 4-3 loss at Progressive Field to the Minnesota Twins.
The American League Central sleepwalk, coupled with a tough series with Boston earlier in the week, appear to have taken their toll on the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe dropped a season-high fourth straight game on Saturday, shelled by the Kansas City Royals, 7-1.
It was another tough start for Corey Kluber, who saw his four-game winning streak disappear in a rough outing against KC. The Royals fell behind early, but fought back and scored runs in five of their final six trips to the plate to bury the Indians with a big loss.
After fighting back with a two-run homer in the eighth, the Cleveland Indians were punched square in the mouth by the young Kansas City Royals in the ninth, as back-to-back homers from rookies Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier off of closer Cody Allen delivered a 5-4 home plate mobbing for the home team.
The on-going woes for Allen continued as he needed just four pitches to cough up the game, sending the Indians (73-55) to their third straight defeat. It marked the first time in Major League history that a pair of rookies hit consecutive homers in the ninth inning to tie and win the game.
For the first time since the end of April, the Red Sox have lost three straight games. This time, they have the Indians to blame for two of those defeats as Shane Bieber took a shutout into the seventh inning and the bottom of the Tribe lineup provided an extra punch in a 6-3 win by Cleveland in Boston.
The Red Sox, who entered the night with a 44-17 record at home, took a second straight loss to the Indians to make it three straight defeats for just the second time this season (the other occurred from April 21 to 24 in Oakland against the A’s and Toronto against the Blue Jays). Boston could get nothing going against the Tribe starter Bieber, finally tallying three runs in the seventh with Cleveland already up by five.
It wasn’t pretty at the end, but the Cleveland Indians took their fifth straight series win with a 9-7 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon from Guaranteed Rate Field.
Carlos Carrasco was dominant once again as he continued to torture opposing hitters on Sunday while moving into a tie with Corey Kluber for the team lead in wins with 14. He shut down the White Sox with seven innings of one-run baseball, striking out nine, walking none, and allowing just three hits in an effective 90-pitch effort. Since returning from the disabled list on July 6 against Oakland, the Cleveland starter has gone 6-1 in eight appearances. He has made five straight quality starts to start the second half of the season, going 3-1 in those outings with a 1.87 ERA, 43 strikeouts, and just four walks over the last 33 2/3 innings.
This past winter, the Cleveland Indians decided to move on from free agent and long-time player Carlos Santana. He was set to break the bank on a mega contract that Cleveland’s management did not think was worth shelling out to a first baseman who could put up decent power numbers, but has been very inconsistent over the course of his career.
Santana, 32 years old, inked a lucrative deal with the Philadelphia Phillies that guaranteed him three years and at least $60 million. It ended Santana’s eight-year (seven full seasons) run with the Tribe. His journey with Cleveland was a roller coaster ride, watching him go from catcher, to third base, to finally settling in as a first baseman.
It was also a roller coaster in the sense that he could not put back-to-back great seasons together. He followed a 27-homer 2011 campaign with seasons of 18 and 20 bombs. He mashed 27 again in 2014, but fell back to 19 again in 2015, and then hammered a career-high 34 jacks in Cleveland’s 2016 World Series season. He finished his Tribe tenure dropping back down to 23 taters last season, putting him all over the map. His .249 batting average did not scream franchise player either, so why pay Santana like a franchise player – especially in a smaller market like Cleveland.
Trevor Bauer provided six innings of shutout baseball and the offense erupted for a ten-spot in a 10-0 three-hit shutout of the Minnesota Twins on Monday night from Progressive Field.
Bauer entered the day just one strikeout short of matching his career best and five short of the 200-mark and he knocked out both accomplishments with ease in an eleven-strikeout performance as the Indians completed their 12th shutout of the year.
After a quick road trip through Detroit and Minneapolis, the Cleveland Indians return home this weekend for a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Indians (59-48) finally figured out the Minnesota Twins over the weekend, taking each of the final two games of the series to pull a little closer on the season series against their toughest division rival to date. The Tribe moved to 9-6 since the break after their 4-2 trip and continued their better play on the road in July, winning eight of their last ten away from home. They own a ten-game lead in the American League Central Division over the Twins as the division may have conceded with the pile of trade deadline moves that came from within throughout July.
The Indians will wrap up their six-game road trip this week with a three-day stay at Minnesota’s Target Field against the hometown Twins.
The Indians (57-47) have had a tough time since the All-Star break, going 5-4. Four of those wins have come in their six road contests in the second half. Cleveland will wrap up another month with a winning record, bringing in a 13-10 mark in the month of July into the series with two games left to play. They will have to overcome a Minnesota team that has taken six of the first nine meetings between the clubs this season, the only club in the American League Central to give the Tribe fits. The Indians enter the day with a nine game lead in the division.