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The Detroit Tigers team coming to Progressive Field for a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians this week is not the same team that the Tribe dismantled in Michigan a week and a half ago. If anything, the three-game sweep on the Tigers home field only seemed to angrily awaken a sleeping giant.
After being outscored 18-5 by the Indians, the Tigers (14-10) have responded with a ton of runs and have won six of seven games since the two clubs met to propel them back over the .500 mark and back to the top of the American League Central. In the two series since against Oakland and Minnesota, the Tigers put up 43 runs and allowed just 23, taking three of four at home from the A’s before sweeping the Twins at Target Field.
The Indians (10-12) have done the opposite since their impressive sweep of the Tigers, dropping six of seven and several in heart-breaking fashion. After narrowly avoiding a sweep in Minnesota, they took three straight losses to the “rebuilding” Philadelphia Phillies in an unpleasant interleague series. Each of the last six games and seven of nine on the road trip were one-run games. Both losses in Minnesota were by walk-off hits, as was the extra inning loss to open the series in Philadelphia. Cleveland is 4-7 this season in those close finishes.
Currently Bryan Shaw has a 9.64 ERA. This is quite an alarming fact for fans of the Tribe, worrying what is wrong with their important set up man. Combined with closer Cody Allen’s 6.97 ERA, many fans are wondering if the once solid back end of the bullpen is falling apart.
It is not.
Consider the fact that Shaw has only pitched in nine and one-third innings and Allen has pitched in ten and one-third. Both of their ERAs are inflated due to low innings because they are relievers early on in the season. Also consider that in only three of his eleven appearances, Shaw gave up a single run, and in five of Allen’s eleven appearances, he gave up a run. No reliever is perfect with a 0.00 ERA. All of the greats, including Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, blew quite a few saves in their careers. So perhaps it is better that Shaw and Allen are getting their mistakes in early rather than in September when the pressure is on.
Let’s take a closer look at Shaw, because his ERA is higher, and his struggles are easier to decipher.
Not every pitcher is going to have a blow-it-by-you fastball. We’ve seen in the past that having an electric fastball doesn’t always make you an outstanding pitcher. Sure, it helps out a ton, but you don’t need it. What every pitcher aims to achieve is to have control and sustainability. I introduce to you right-handed pitcher Adam Plutko, otherwise known as Josh Tomlin 2.0.
Plutko, 24, was drafted by the Tribe in the eleventh round of the 2013 draft. The UCLA product has been one of the most reliable arms in the Indians farm system since arriving. He made his debut with the club in 2014 at Low-A where he started in ten games and posted a record of 3-1 and an ERA of 3.93. In 52 2/3 innings, he racked up 66 strikeouts to 12 walks. Again, control is his game through and through.
In a rare feat in Major League Baseball, Cleveland outfielder Alex Cole steals five bases in one game. His efforts are for naught, however, as the Indians fall to the California Angels by a 6-3 final at Cleveland Stadium.
The International League announced on Monday that Columbus Clippers third baseman Giovanny Urshela was selected as its Batter of the Week and Indianapolis Indians pitcher Tyler Glasnow was picked as its Pitcher of the Week for the week of April 25 through May 1.
Urshela is the first Clippers player to be honored since Audy Ciriaco won the award at the end of August of last season.
Sunday marked the 125th anniversary of the first game at Cleveland’s League Park. Cy Young was the starting pitcher for the National League’s Cleveland Spiders against the Cincinnati Reds in front of a sellout crowd at the 9,000 seat wooden facility in the city’s Hough neighborhood.
As it was described in the following day’s edition of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland (spelling is correct):
“At eight minutes past 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon Denton Young, ex-rail splitter, put a double reef in his trousers, wet a brand new Spalding base ball with his fingers, smiled grimly and then propelled his arm through space, releasing the ball as he did it.
“It sailed gently toward a rubber plate firmly fastened in the ground some feet in front of him and passed directly over the center of that plate.
“Standing on one side of that piece of rubber was a young man dressed in a baggy blue flannel uniform with a great big bat in his hand. This man was “Biddy” McPhee. He made not a move when that ball passed over the plate and Umpire Phil Powers gently murmured “one strike”. The base ball season of 1891 was open in Cleveland and the heart of the lover of the game was glad.”
April could have gone much better for the Cleveland Indians. Recent history also proves that it could have gone much worse.
So…the Indians survived April, one lacking an All-Star left fielder and one that saw the number 1A pitcher on the staff succumb to injury. They fell a game short of reaching what most fans and pundits would have deemed an acceptable return by finishing the month with a 10-11 record, victimized by a horrifying five-game stretch of tough-luck one-run games, four times ending in the loss column and three of which ended with walk-off victories for the opposition.
Here’s a look back at some of the high points, the low points, and some of the stops in between on the roller coaster ride that was the month of April for the Cleveland Indians and their fans.
The Cleveland Indians concluded a bizarre and disappointing nine-game road trip by dropping the series finale in Philadelphia with a 2-1 loss to the Phillies.
Cleveland could find few runs in the series, despite limiting Philadelphia to just ten runs in the three-game set. The Indians scored three runs in each of the first two games before a ninth inning run on Sunday got them on the scoreboard late. The final score marked six straight games of one-run decisions for the Indians, who were on the losing end of five of those contests and three of which came in walk-off fashion.
The Indians (10-12) fell two games below the .500 mark and are now 7-7 on the road. After starting their road trip 3-0, they finished their three-city trip at 4-5. The Phillies (15-10), meanwhile, completed their second straight three-game sweep and improved to 8-5 at home at Citizens Bank Park.
Prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cleveland Indians placed backup catcher Roberto Perez on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb injury.
The extent of the injury was not fully known, although there were reports that Perez may have fractured the thumb during Saturday night’s game. At the time of this post, the Indians would only confirm that it was a right thumb injury.
In a corresponding roster move, the Indians purchased the contract of veteran catcher Adam Moore from Triple-A Columbus.