The attention of the baseball world returns to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland as the blazing hot Indians welcome the Detroit Tigers in for a short two-game set this week.
The Tigers (23-19) come to Cleveland a week and a half after dropping two of three against the Indians at Comerica Park. They relinquished their longest lead in the American League Central over the weekend to the Indians after losing their series against the Texas Rangers. They are 10-12 on the road this season and have a 17-18 record against all teams not named the Houston Astros.
The Indians (26-17) pushed their lead in the AL Central to two and a half games after sweeping the Seattle Mariners in a four-game series over the weekend. They have not lost a series since a sweep by Boston from April 16th to 18th. They have now won 18 of their last 22 games (since game two of the doubleheader in Kansas City) and are 21-8 since that sweep by Boston.
Monday afternoon’s game between the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners was reminiscent of a boxing match. Both sides took turns absorbing the other’s best shots, but would not stay down for the count.
Finally, in a back-and-forth affair, it was Yan Gomes who delivered the knockout punch. A 10th inning, three-run home run, erased an 8-7 deficit and gave the Tribe a 10-8 win. It was Gomes’ second longball of the day and fourth of the season. The comeback victory completed a four-game sweep over the Mariners and gave Cleveland its fifth straight win. At 26-17 the Indians are now two and a half games up in the AL Central Division over the Tigers, who visit Progressive Field on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A count of 19,390 fans witnessed the Indians’ third walk-off home run of the year and third walk-off victory during the four-game tilt with Seattle. Gomes’ blast was the sixth time on the day a team had a lead erased. Seattle had the lead to start both the ninth and tenth innings.
The Indians are in first place in May. We’ve heard this before.
This afternoon the Indians go for a four game sweep of the Seattle Mariners and their fifth straight win. Heading in to the game, the Indians have a two game lead on the Detroit Tigers, whose starting pitching is starting to become a question mark of their own. Instead, the Indians seem to be hitting on all cylinders as they are winners of 17 of their last 21 games. While Detroit seems to be stalling at the quarter mark, the Tribe seems to be hitting the gas and starting to speed ahead.
Tonight, the Indians proved they didn’t need to be wearing blue to win. White is alright, too.
Even better, they proved that Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound is not necessarily a bad thing.
The starting pitcher has been one of the most unsteady parts of the Indians rotation thus far. Nights when he’s on the mound often have fans doubting the team’s success before the game even starts. This time, Jimenez didn’t need to fear the wrath of disgruntled fans as another solid start and four solo home runs helped lead the Tribe to a 7-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
It seems like with each win, the Cleveland Indians have a new hero to celebrate.
Saturday’s win went to Scott Kazmir. He won his first game of the season and his first start since September 19th, 2010, with six impressive innings on the afternoon. After working out of a jam in the second inning, he faced just one over the minimum the rest of his day, allowing two hits and a run. He struck out four straight batters at one point and struck out seven on the day. He was able to settle in because his offense continued to do something it had struggled to do earlier in the season – consistently get runners on base and drive them in.
During the Indians’ winning streak, a new hero has emerged almost every night.
Ryan Raburn was brought to Cleveland to be a super utility player. The plan was to have him take the field, part-time, at up to four different positions. During the Indians’ four-game winning streak, he sure has looked comfortable as a regular in the lineup.
Due to injuries, Raburn has manned right field during each of the latter three games. All he has done in that time is have a pair of four-hit gems on Sunday at Kansas City and Wednesday against Philadelphia, to go with two-homer games on Sunday and Tuesday. He has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 at bats.
The kind of stretch Raburn is on has certainly been done by lesser players than him before. Hitters can get hot at any moment. However, with each passing game, the 32-year-old veteran is making it harder and harder on manager Terry Francona to remove him from the batting order.
On Wednesday night the Tribe’s rookie phenom showed he does have a bit of a ways to go before he is winning hardware. However, he was good enough to out-duel the lefty. The Indians got the better of their former ace, sweeping the two-game series with a 6-0 victory at Progressive Field.
If the Indians scored any more runs two at a time, they would have needed an ark on Tuesday night.
The Indians touched up Roy Halladay for three home runs and eight runs on their way to hanging seven home runs on the Phillies in a decidingly 14-2 victory at Progressive Field. Zach McAllister controlled the Phillies bats for seven strong innings, carding the Tribe’s third straight quality start.
Cleveland struck in the first inning for the third straight game. With one out in the inning, Jason Kipnis singled to center field and promptly stole second base. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out to first base, moving Kipnis to third before Carlos Santana hit a mammoth home run that just hooked around the right field foul pole. The two run blast was Santana’s fifth homer of the young season, making the score 2-0 Tribe.
Interleague play comes to Cleveland for the first time this season as the Philadelphia Phillies make a quick stop to Progressive Field for a pair of games against the Indians.
The Phillies come to town on a three game winning streak. They have played very streaky baseball so far this season – prior to their sweep of the Mets over the weekend, they dropped three of four against the Pittsburgh Pirates, split a series two games apiece with the St. Louis Cardinals, and were swept in three games by the Cincinnati Reds. They have won just three of their eight series on the season, winning two sets from the Mets and one from the Miami Marlins.
The Indians return home after a scheduled ten-game road trip that was shortened a day in Chicago due to inclement weather. Unusual heroes – Mike Aviles, Corey Kluber, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ryan Raburn – assisted Cleveland in coming home with a winning 5-4 record on their road trip.
Both managers (Terry Francona and Charlie Manuel) will face off against the organizations they began their managerial careers with. Francona managed in Philadelphia for four years starting in 1997. Manuel led Cleveland for two and a half seasons, starting in 2000.
Just when you think you know what to expect from Ubaldo Jimenez, he zigs when everyone expects a zag.
After nearly a month of early season struggles and inconsistencies Jimenez pitched one of his best games as a Cleveland Indian, flirting early with a perfect game before shutting out the Kansas City Royals for seven innings. Ryan Raburn and Michael Brantley helped provide all the necessary offense to give the Indians a dominating 9-0 victory to end their four game series.
Cleveland jumped on top early in the top of the first inning when Jason Kipnis hit a solo home run to center field to give the Tribe an early 1-0 lead. It was Kipnis’ first home run of the season.
It’s why games aren’t played on paper.
On paper, the Indians appeared to be a deficit heading into today’s game, struggling to score runs still and left-handed Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale on the mound against less-than-consistent Zach McAllister.
But games don’t always play out as they appear as McAllister outdueled Sale for a 9-4 Indians win on Saturday afternoon. Sale was not dominant and eventually lost his cool, while McAllister pitched through early struggles for a fine effort and Mark Reynolds had one of the better days of his career to provide all the offense the Indians would need.
“He’s a young pitcher that is gaining experience,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “I thought the command of his fastball today was tremendous. He started the game out with an error and we give up a couple runs, we got right back and he settled in throwing a lot of quality strikes. That’s a great way to pitch.”
By Christian Petrila
One of the busiest offseasons in Indians history is winding down, but the roster shuffling is far from over for Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti.
The Indians announced their Opening Day 25-man roster on Monday, but anyone could see that the roster the team announced would be far from final.
Kazmir was announced as the team’s fifth starter on Monday, but he still isn’t on either roster. However, he likely won’t be officially added to the roster until Apr. 6–the day of his first scheduled start.