The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon that the team had agreed to send outfielder Michael Bourn and outfielder/first baseman/designated hitter Nick Swisher to the Atlanta Braves with cash for infielder Chris Johnson, drastically changing the team’s future.
It comes on the heels of the club creating a new and horrifyingly frustrating way to hit the loss column as they dropped an opportunity to come home from a seven-game road trip on the positive side of the ledger. Instead, one out away from achieving that goal, Cody Allen lost all control and the Indians dropped a heart-breaker to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday afternoon in an ever-present reminder that this season has fallen far short of the lofty expectations placed on it at the beginning of the year.
After splitting a pair in Oakland, the Indians (49-58) came into Anaheim with a big chance to play spoiler and maybe even gain some ground in the American League Wild Card chase, for those still grasping at straws despite the club being closer to the worst record in the AL than to the latter of the two Wild Card teams. They fell 5-4 on Monday but recovered with a gem of a performance from Carlos Carrasco on Tuesday, 2-0 in 12 innings. A three-hit effort from Danny Salazar over six innings on Wednesday afternoon was wasted by Allen’s supernova explosion of a meltdown as he allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth to cost the Indians their 50th victory of the season.
The Twins (54-54) have found themselves in a death spiral, heading in the wrong direction after remaining notably stagnant at the trade deadline. The club, in the thick of things in the Wild Card race, picked up reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Tampa Bay Rays and has proceeded to go 1-6, including a five-game losing streak they bring into Cleveland for the weekend series. The four-game sweep they suffered at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays came at the worst time, as it propelled the Jays past them in the playoff picture.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Pelfrey, a former first round pick in 2005, is coming off of arguably his best start of the season his last time out. Despite a no-decision, he went eight scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out three. He is 2-1 against the Indians in his career in a half-dozen starts. It will mark the first career start for Anderson against Minnesota. He is coming off of a better outing his last time out in Anaheim in a loss to the Los Angeles Angels, where he allowed four runs (three earned) in six and two-thirds innings, matching a career high with four strikeouts.
Santana, who threw the only no-hitter in the history of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 2011, is 0-3 in four starts at the park since with a 5.64 ERA. It will be his seventh start of the season after missing time while under suspension. He has lost each of his last two games. Bauer walked four and gave up four hits in a no-decision his last time out against Oakland. He is winless in five career starts against Minnesota, posting an 0-3 record with a 6.07 ERA. He has struck out 30 Twins in 29 2/3 innings while walking just five.
Hughes enters the game with a 5-2 mark against the Indians in nine career starts with a 3.41 ERA. He ended a six-game winning streak in his last start, allowing three runs on five hits in five and two-thirds innings in a 3-1 loss to Toronto. Kluber is your league leader in innings pitched and losses, one of many indications of the lack of run support the reigning Cy Young winner has received on the mound this year. He allowed five runs in five and two-thirds his last time out in a loss to the Angels.
As usual, all Indians broadcasts of the series will appear courtesy of Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network. Television and radio calls for the Twins will be provided by Fox Sports North, GO 96.3 FM, and the Treasure Island Baseball Network.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. GB WCGB STREAK
Kansas City 63-44 .589 – – L2
Minnesota 54-54 .500 9.5 3.0 L5
Detroit 53-55 .491 10.5 4.0 W2
Chicago 51-55 .481 11.5 5.0 W1
Cleveland 49-58 .458 14.0 7.5 L1
Cleveland and Minnesota have met 2,095 times in the history of the two clubs, although a large chunk of those games came while the Twins were actually the Washington Senators.
The Indians are 1,112-973 (.533) all-time against the organization, including a 612-432 mark at home in Cleveland. The two teams have not met since the second week of May in Cleveland, when the Twins took two of three from the Tribe. Minnesota has a 4-2 advantage over them on the year.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Michael Bourn (CF) – traded to the Atlanta Braves (August 7)
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2015 right elbow surgery
Deolis Guerra (RP) – claimed off of waivers from Pittsburgh (August 5)
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 8) – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
Chris Johnson (IF) – acquired from the Atlanta Braves in Bourn/Swisher/cash trade (August 7)
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 15-day disabled list (August 3) – right shoulder injury
Michael Roth (P) – designated for assignment (August 5)
Nick Swisher (DH) – traded to the Atlanta Braves (August 7)
Byron Buxton (CF) – 15-day disabled list (June 25) – left thumb sprain
Tyler Duffey (RP) – contract selected from Triple-A Rochester (August 3)
Tommy Milone (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 1) – mild left elbow strain
Ricky Nolasco (SP) – 60-day disabled list (July 7) – right ankle impingement
Ryan Pressly (RP) – 60-day disabled list (August 2) – right lat strain
BREAKING DOWN THE TRADE
Bourn was the Indians batting leader in the second half, as he appeared almost out of nowhere to be an option at the plate for the club. Prior to his trade to Atlanta, he was hitting .360 in the second half with 18 hits in 50 at bats. He was six for seven in stolen base attempts and had scored six runs in the 16 games played. He is owed $14 million next season with a 2017 vesting option of $12 million based on trips to the plate next season.
Swisher was wrapping up his minor league rehab assignments while attempting to get off of the disabled list for the second time this season with knee issues. He is owed $15 million next season with a vesting option of $14 million for 2017 based on plate appearances and a physical.
New Indian Johnson is in his seventh Major League season after debuting with the Houston Astros in 2009 as a third baseman. He was traded from Houston to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012 and was dealt to Atlanta prior to the 2013 season as part of the Justin Upton trade. He has played first and third during his time with the Braves and played some right field during the 2012 season for the Astros. He was hitting .235 at the time of the trade to Cleveland with two homers and eleven RBI in 56 games, but just 37 starts. The Indians will owe him $7.5 million for 2016 and $9 million for 2017. He has a $10 million team option for the 2018 season with a $1 million buyout.
It has been reported that the Indians will send in excess of $10 million to complete the trade.
BY THE NUMBERS
Michael Brantley is hitting .353 in the second half with a team-high eleven runs batted in. His three homers since the All-Star break have been matched by Francisco Lindor and Yan Gomes for the team lead. He is second on the team with a .303 batting average and leads the club with 57 RBI.
Lindor is hitting .304 and has scored a team-high ten runs since the break. He has improved his season batting line to .258 with seven doubles, five homers, and 19 RBI.
Aaron Hicks and Miguel Sano are the Minnesota batting average leaders at .277 this season. Hicks is hitting .296 since the break with three homers and ten RBI, but has slumped over his last seven games, hitting .143. Sano, the much heralded rookie third baseman for the Twins, is hitting .277 after debuting on July 2nd. He has five homers and 17 RBI in 94 at bats this year with a .405 on-base percentage.
Trevor Plouffe, whose walkoff homer gave the Twins a win earlier in the season off of Bryan Shaw, has four homers and 13 RBI since the break, despite hitting .222. He is hitting .258 in his career against the Indians and .282 at Progressive Field. In three games against the Tribe this season, he is hitting .385 with three doubles and the solo walkoff homer.
Monday will be an off-day for the Tribe before resuming play with a three-game series on Tuesday with the New York Yankees, their first series against the Bronx Bombers this season. The Twins will take Monday off as well before beginning a six-game homestand against Texas and then the Indians next weekend.
Photo: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill