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If you haven’t noticed (as there have been a few exciting things going on in the city of Cleveland over the last month as the NBA Finals came to its conclusion over the weekend), the Cleveland Indians have been playing some very good baseball.
The Indians (41-30) bounced back from a three-game sweep against the Royals in Kansas City with a resounding six straight wins during their last homestand of June. The team went 11-0 at home for the month and 15-6 so far in June, backed by two separate six-game winning streaks. They will have to play better on the road, where they are 18-18 for the season and 4-6 in June after a tough three-city, ten-day trip earlier in the month through Seattle, Anaheim, and KC. They continue to lead the American League Central Division by three games.
The Midwest League held its All-Star Game on Tuesday, and like their fellow minor league mates from High-A Lynchburg, the Class-A Lake County Captains played big roles in the Eastern Division’s 11-10 victory over the Western Division.
The Captains had four members of their team on the Eastern Division squad, including starters in catcher Francisco Mejia and second baseman Tyler Krieger. Willi Castro was a bench option for the team and Tom Pannone was ready in the bullpen awaiting his turn on the diamond.
The Western Division jumped out to a big 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before the Eastern Division scored their first run in the second inning. It was a Captain who set the stage.
After their losing skid hit 12 straight games last Thursday, the Akron RubberDucks got back into the win column with a three-game sweep of New Hampshire over the weekend. They took the first game of a road series in Reading before dropping a pair to lose the series on Wednesday and Thursday.
Akron remains in first place in the Eastern League’s Western Division with a 42-31 record. They are 23-12 at home, but 19-19 on the road. Despite the even mark on the road, only four teams in the 12-team Eastern League have performed better away from home this year.
The RubberDucks return home to host the Trenton Thunder this weekend, with four games scheduled in the next three days. They will close out the month of June with three games at Richmond before starting a four-game series in Erie against the SeaWolves next Thursday.
In other RubberDucks news and notes…
After a great start to the 2016 season, the Lynchburg Hillcats had six different players selected for spots on the Carolina League All-Star team. Each of the six men made contributions in the All-Star game on Tuesday from Lake Elsinore, California, as the Carolina League defeated the California League by a 6-4 score.
The Carolina League team was the visiting team and got a run in the first manufactured heavily by the Hillcats own (and southern California native) Greg Allen. Playing center field in the game and batting leadoff, he drew a walk against Chris Huffman and proceeded to steal both second and third bases before scoring two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Mauricio Dubon of Salem.
Trevor Bauer continued the all day celebration in downtown Cleveland as he threw a complete game gem to sweep the series from the Tampa Bay Rays with a 6-1 victory on Wednesday night.
Bauer, following in the footsteps of Corey Kluber the night before, reeled off a three-hitter. It was the second consecutive three-hitter by the Cleveland staff and the second complete game tossed by Bauer in his career. It seemed the fitting finale of the Indians home schedule for the month and a proper end to a day full of celebrations, jubilation, sun, and fun on the shores of Lake Erie, where estimates of over one million people jammed into the town beginning in the wee hours of the morning to partake in the parade and ceremony honoring the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Indians (41-30), lost some in the shuffle of excitement this month, not only swept their series with the Rays, but swept their six-game homestand and all games in the month of June at Progressive Field. The Indians have won six straight games and eleventh straight on their home field to improve to a season-high eleven games above the .500 mark. Another loss by Kansas City on Wednesday increased Cleveland’s lead in the American League Central Division to three games.
On the third day of May, Nick Pasquale was assigned to the High-A Lynchburg Hillcats. That day would be the first of three games cancelled over the next week as heavy rains swept through the Central Virginia area. This forced a doubleheader against the Carolina Mudcats and the loss of an off day in order to make up a game against division rival Potomac.
More importantly, it would produce an opportunity for Pasquale to move out of the bullpen and get an opportunity as a starting pitcher.
Seventy years ago Wednesday, baseball innovator and mogul Bill Veeck and a small handful of other investors officially purchased the Cleveland Indians organization, setting the stage less than two years later for one of the most exciting pennant chases the game of baseball had ever seen and one of a handful of sports moments forever celebrated in the city of Cleveland.
Veeck, then 32 years old, had spent his life involved in the game of baseball.
Pity the Golden State Warriors.
They were a win away from immortality in the pantheon of all-time great teams when the Cavaliers completed a historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to beat the Warriors for the first sports title in Cleveland since before the days of color television.
The Warriors won a record 73 games in the regular season, and with Sunday’s Game 7 loss to the Cavs, became the first team in NBA history to lose as many playoff games (9) as regular season game. It’s the type of crushing defeat that Cleveland fans are used to, only in baseball – and from the other side.