The pressure of a long winning streak has not been too much for the Indians, as Cleveland pulled within one game of the American League record for consecutive wins on Monday night with its 19th straight victory, an 11-0 shutout of the Detroit Tigers from Progressive Field.
There seems to be little slowing down the Indians (88-56), who have made it loud and clear that they are the favorites to claim the American League pennant despite missing several big names from the lineup and appearing unfazed by injuries that have chipped away at the roster throughout the second half of the schedule. Despite missing three former All-Stars in Andrew Miller, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis and losing rookie Bradley Zimmer to what appears to be a season ending broken left hand, the Indians kept on rolling in the series opener with the Tigers and continued their dominance of Detroit since the beginning of July after dropping the first two series against them to start the season.
The Indians were challenged by rookie Myles Jaye on Monday night, as the young right-hander was making his third Major League appearance and first career start with the unenviable job of stopping Cleveland’s reign of terror on AL clubs. He would dodge a jam in the first, but that would be the last time he would slow down the Tribe.
After Carlos Carrasco stranded a pair in the first, the Indians did the same in the home half against Jaye. With two outs, Jose Ramirez was hit by a pitch and Edwin Encarnacion singled him over to second, but Jay Bruce lined out hard to right for the third out.
Carrasco allowed a leadoff single to James McCann to start the second before striking out the next three swinging. His offense then came to the plate and came through in a big way. Carlos Santana drew a five-pitch walk to lead off the frame and moved to second on a single to left by Yandy Diaz. Yan Gomes sent the next pitch into center to score Santana to give Cleveland the lead. Greg Allen loaded the bases with a bunt single and Francisco Lindor unloaded them with a triple to the gap in right-center, breaking the game open at 4-0. A grounder to short by Lonnie Chisenhall could not get the runner in from third, but Ramirez made it a moot point with a sacrifice fly to center, extending Cleveland’s lead to 5-0.
Carrasco had some traffic on the base paths all game, but he made the lead stand up. Ian Kinsler singled to start the third but was stranded. Jeimer Candelario singled to lead off the fourth and moved to second on a one-out single from Tyler Collins, but the pair was left in scoring position after a groundout by JaCoby Jones and a liner to left by Dixon Machado.
The Indians added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth with a big two-out contribution from a little power source. Lindor singled with one out and, after a strikeout by Chisenhall, Ramirez got revenge for his earlier hit by pitch by sending the first pitch he saw towards the foul pole in right. The ball stayed in fair territory for a two-run home run, his 26th of the season, while pushing the Cleveland lead to 7-0. Jaye would last two more batters before being lifted for Zac Reininger, who got the final out of the inning to strand two base runners.
Carrasco worked around a one-out single to left by Alex Presley in the fifth before the Tribe bats got back to work again. Diaz and Gomes each reached on singles before a fly out by Allen moved Diaz to third. Lindor delivered his fourth run of the night with a grounder to second, with Gomes forced but Diaz crossing the plate safely to make it an eight-run lead.
Carrasco returned for the sixth, giving up another single to Candelario to start the inning before retiring the last three hitters he would face on the night, striking out Collins and Jones to end his outing.
Warwick Saupold came on for the bottom of the sixth, but could not hold the lead as his command would get the better of him. Ramirez started the inning, but a foul tip off of his arm caused him to leave the game for precautionary measures. Erik Gonzalez replaced him and he lined to center before Saupold walked Encarnacion, Bruce, and Santana in three lengthy at bats to load the bases. Diaz grounded to second, where the Tigers recorded the second out of the inning, but pinch-runner Abraham Almonte scored to push the Indians’ lead to 9-0.
Danny Salazar got his first look from the bullpen since being removed from the starting rotation in the top of the seventh. He gave up a two-out single to Presley before getting Miguel Cabrera to fly out to end the inning. He pitched an easier eighth, striking out one, before the Indians enjoyed some more offense at the Tigers’ expense.
Jairo Labourt came on for Joe Jimenez and promptly loaded the bases. Gonzalez reached on an infield single, Almonte walked, and Tyler Naquin singled to fill the bags. A wild pitch allowed Gonzalez to score from third while advancing the other two base runners and Brandon Guyer drove in another with a sacrifice fly to left, making it an 11-0 game.
Zach McAllister pitched the ninth, striking out a pair around a one-out single by Jones.
The Indians reduced their magic number to six games while increasing their lead in the AL to a game and a half over the idle Houston Astros. The shutout was their Major League-leading 18th of the year.
Detroit dropped to 60-83 with the loss. The Tigers are just 28-45 away from home.
Carrasco (15-6) dealt with quite a bit of company on the bases, but did not allow the Tigers to scratch across any runs. He worked six innings of shutout baseball, allowing seven hits and walking one while striking out nine. He needed 92 pitches to get through the outing in his first start since throwing his first complete game of the season in Chicago last week.
Jaye (1-1) was dealt his first big league loss in an outing that might stick with him for a bit. Making his second career appearance against the Indians since being called up at the beginning of the month, he was charged with seven runs on seven hits in three and two-thirds innings. He struck out the first two batters of his MLB career, but walked two and hit a batter while throwing 85 pitches. He pitched from behind for much of the night, throwing first pitch strikes to just eleven of the 23 batters that he faced.
The Tigers had base runners in eight of the nine innings, but could do no damage. They stranded ten and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position on the night.
The Cleveland offense ran through the double play tandem of Lindor and Ramirez. Lindor had two hits, scored two runs, and drove in four in five trips to the plate. He is now hitting .365 during the 19-game win streak with eight homers and 18 runs batted in. Ramirez was hit by a pitch, hit a sacrifice fly, and added in his two-run home run before exiting the game early. He is hitting .383 during the same stretch with eight homers and eight doubles.
While the Indians dealt with the news of the likely loss of Zimmer for the season, the team did get encouraging news prior to the game as both Kipnis and Miller inched closer to returns to the roster. Miller threw a 30-pitch session during the afternoon and Kipnis stepped into the box against him for a stretch. The Tribe second baseman also shagged some fly balls in the outfield as he prepares to give center field a look when he returns to the lineup due to the quality play the Indians have received from Ramirez, Diaz, and Giovanny Urshela while manning the second and third base positions in Kipnis’ absence.
The Indians will send Corey Kluber (15-4, 2.56 ERA) to the mound on Tuesday night as the club looks to match the American League record for consecutive wins, established by the Oakland Athletics during the “Moneyball” 2002 season. Kluber has won three straight decisions and is 12-2 with a 1.89 ERA since returning from the disabled list on June 1. Detroit will counter with left-hander Matt Boyd (5-9, 5.93), who has made some of his best starts of the season against Cleveland. He is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP against the Indians this year in three starts and is coming off of a six-inning effort his last time out against Kansas City, when he allowed four runs on seven hits before departing.
First pitch from downtown Cleveland is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images
This Post Has One Comment
Your articles are the best, most informative and complete on the subject of Indians baseball available. Keep up the GREAT work! Win or lose I count on you guys to deliver the news and the excitement.