Series Preview #32: Kansas City Royals (59-38) at Cleveland Indians (45-52)... July 27, 2015 | Bob Toth
Mr. Clutch: Jerry Sands Quietly Putting Up Big Numbers... July 27, 2015 | Ryan Hohman
Indians Front Office and Clubhouse Spinning Two Different Messages... July 27, 2015 | Mike Brandyberry
Righting a Wrong and Honoring a Legend in Doby... July 26, 2015 | Bob Toth
Throughout the 2015 season, Did the Tribe Win Last Night will take a look back at the 1995 Cleveland Indians for the 20th anniversary of their fourth pennant winning season. Included will be historic game recaps, headlining stories and a ranking of the team’s most influential players that truly made 1995 The Greatest Summer Ever. Today we catch up with former catcher Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Some baseball players have a special connection with a city because of their outstanding talent. Some players have a special connection because of their outstanding personalities.
Former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar had both.
Still a fan favorite 15 years after he played for the Cleveland Indians, Alomar currently serves on the Major League coaching staff as the Indians continue to challenge for the American League Central Division crown. A 20-year veteran with seven different teams, Alomar lived out his childhood dreams and followed in the footsteps of his father, former Major League infielder Sandy Sr., while playing more than half of his career with Cleveland.
Tonight, Progressive Field gets what it has been long missing – a statue and commemoration to one of the team’s most noteworthy players, and an American League pioneer. Larry Doby will join the figures of Bob Feller and Jim Thome at the ballpark, greeting fans as they enter for the game.
That Doby has not yet been rewarded with a statue has been a travesty for many fans, as the American League’s first African American player is an accomplishment that many felt should have been awarded before the club’s home run leader, Jim Thome, was recognized.
Picture Robert Stack in a dark overcoat meandering toward camera through a foggy alley. Over the opening chords of that tinkly theme song he speaks the following words in a low, gravelly voice that makes you think he’s passing along state secrets:
It’s a typical Tuesday night, and everybody’s settling in to watch the Indians’ latest textbook example of how not to score runs.
Just after the game begins (and the Indians strand their first runner in scoring position), venerable MLB.com reporter Jordan Bastian posts an intriguing little story. To coincide with that evening’s much-anticipated “Major League Night” at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Bastian chatted with Tribe manager Terry Francona about an enigmatic comment he made before the game.
Two teams with high hopes at the beginning of the season wrap up their weeks on the wrong sides of the .500 mark as the Cleveland Indians return home to Progressive Field to host the Chicago White Sox in a four-game series with the trade deadline looming closer and closer.
The Indians (45-48) followed their usual protocol, dropping the first game of their series against the Milwaukee Brewers during the week. Three early runs would prove plenty in the first game, as the Cleveland offense extended Monday’s day off into Tuesday in an 8-1 loss. They returned with a vengeance on Wednesday, as two home runs powered the Tribe to a 7-5 come-from-behind victory. The series split sent the Indians back home on the positive end of a 3-2 road trip to start the second half of the season.
During his recent rehab stint with the Lake County Captains, Nick Swisher said that, more than anything, he enjoyed being part of a team again.
“Even if it’s not my team, it’s still part of a team,” Swisher said Monday night after his first appearance with the Captains. “When you’re banged up and going through this rehab process, you don’t really feel like part of anything. You kind of just feel like you’re in the way. It’s a big step in the right direction for me.”
Despite sharing only two games with the Low-A squad, Swisher worked with his new teammates more than just on the field. He treated them to a post-game dinner more worthy of the big leagues, giving them – literally – a taste of what it could be like to be in his shoes one day.
“What goes around comes around,” Swisher said of the spread to be served to the team. “You’ve got to repay them.”
Of all the fears, worries and unknowns the Cleveland Indians had in spring training and the start of this baseball season, the back end of the bullpen was not one of them. Setup man Bryan Shaw and closer Cody Allen had made for a pretty formidable one-two punch at the end of ball games in 2013 and 2014 and there was little reason to expect anything different of the Tribe’s ace relievers as the 2015 campaign began.
Then April hit. By the end of the season’s first month the back portion of the pen had become as worrisome as consistency from the offense, finding a number 5 starter and the albatross contracts of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn.
The number 38 seems to associate itself with High-A Lynchburg Hillcats left fielder Mike Papi. He and his best friend always had this number, as an inside thing, since his sophomore year of high school. He continued to wear it during his college playing days at the University of Virginia, and he was the 38th overall pick in the supplemental first round in 2014. He has kept the number 38 as he has played professionally, first for Rookie level Mahoning Valley, then the Low-A Lake County Captains and now the Hillcats.
Drafted by the Angels organization out of high school, he chose to attend the University of Virginia where he constructed a strong baseball resume. He captured the Atlantic Coast Conference batting title as a sophomore with a .381 average, and tied for the ACC lead in homeruns with 11 in his junior year, prior to being drafted.
July 22, 1923, was the city of Cleveland’s 127th birthday. A reporter for the Plain Dealer rode the street car down Euclid Avenue and asked people how – or if – they were celebrating.
But the real milestone was at East 66th Street and Lexington Avenue, where Walter Johnson was pitching for the Senators in the finale of a five-game series. It had been a hard-luck series for Washington, manager Donie Bush said, with injuries taking such a toll on his infield that he was forced to play again (he would appear in 10 games that season, his final as a player).
Johnson, too, was on the downslope of his career. He had made his mark as a power pitcher, and held the career strikeout mark, obliterating the record of 2,297 set by Christy Mathewson, but as his velocity – estimated at more than 90 mph in 1917 – started to fade, he augmented it with a certain craftiness, which the Plain Dealer said was on full display that day at League Park.
There are occasionally some bizarre games scheduled into the regular season, as this week’s series between the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers is one of them. The Tribe will swing through “Cream City” for an evening game Tuesday night followed by a Wednesday getaway day afternoon start, leaving little time for the players to soak in the perks of being in the largest city in the state of Wisconsin.
As the trade deadline inches closer and closer, the Indians (44-47) have a decision to make on several players on the roster who may be valuable to other teams around the league while opening up playing time opportunities for some of the young players sitting in Triple-A Columbus waiting for their time to shine on the big stage. In the mean time, they continued to tread some water, keeping pace with the Royals at the top of the division and the leaders in the Wild Card race, remaining eleven games back in the division and five and a half out in the Wild Card chase.
Before heading west, the Indians headed south to Cincinnati to wrap up their season series with the in-state “rival” Reds. The Indians dropped their third straight and yet another series opener on Friday night in a 6-1 loss. They rebounded on Saturday, backing Corey Kluber with oodles of run support and three home run balls in a 9-4 win. They walked their way to victory on Sunday afternoon in extras, as the club drew an almost unheard of four bases loaded walks, including the go-ahead walk and a sacrifice fly in the eleventh of a 5-3 win.
With the All Star break over and gone, the Akron RubberDucks are looking forward to September. While this team may not have looked exciting on paper, they’ve managed to put together a solid season thus far through 2015. Through the first half of 2015, the RubberDucks stood at a record of 47-43 and as of July 20, they’re sitting in third place of the Eastern League Western division with a record of 50-44. Going into the second half, and beyond, they’re sporting a higher than .500 record, and have real chances of seeing playing time once September rolls around.
Looking back at the first half, the RubberDucks have a lot they should be proud of, but there are definite parts of their game that need to be improved on.