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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | July 31, 2021

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Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 7

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 7

| On 17, Jul 2020

One week from today, Major League Baseball returns to Cleveland as the Indians host the Kansas City Royals in game one of 60 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Follow along as Did The Tribe Win Last Night counts down the days to Opening Day. – BT

Countdown to Opening Day – 7 days

Last season, the Cleveland Indians used the number seven in the first and last months of the campaign, but both of those players left the organization as free agents following the season.

Rookie Eric Stamets got an opportunity to open the season with the Indians in 2019 with injuries to Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis putting both on the shelf to begin the year. The 27-year-old Dublin, Ohio, native made his debut on March 28. Starting for Lindor at short, Stamets worked well enough in the field but was unable to do anything at the plate, going hitless in his first 19 plate appearances before a third inning double against Toronto in his eighth big league game. He added a single two games later and his first two MLB RBI, but he went 0-for-15 in his final 18 plate appearances before he was optioned to Columbus with Kipnis returning from his injured list stint.

In his 15 games with the Tribe, Stamets hit just .049 with a .149 on-base percentage with two hits, five walks, and 24 strikeouts in 48 plate appearances. He played in 90 games for the Clippers, posting a .244/.312/.373 slash with ten doubles, five triples, six homers, and 38 RBI. At the trade deadline, the Indians designated him for assignment to open up spots on the 40-man roster and after the season he elected free agency, signing a week and a half later with the Colorado Rockies.

Veteran utility man Ryan Flaherty, who spent the bulk of the season with Stamets in Columbus, took over the number seven when he was added to the big league roster late in the campaign. Getting back to the Show for an eighth MLB season, Flaherty was a September call-up, joining the parent club on the first of the month. He made his way into 14 games, hitting .143 while providing the club with some relief at second and third bases down the stretch. He remains a free agent.

The number seven has appeared in some pretty big moments in Tribe history, including some playoff series on the backs of big contributors.

Prior to the pair of infielders to wear it in 2019, seven spent the previous two years on the back of catcher Yan Gomes. After wearing the number ten during his first four seasons with the club after coming over in a trade with the Blue Jays in the 2012 offseason, Gomes gave up his number to welcome his former Toronto teammate Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland when he signed with the club ahead of the 2017 season.

Gomes enjoyed his best numbers of his four years with the Indians in 2018, when he was recognized for the efforts with his first career All-Star nod. He hit .266 with a .313 on-base percentage and a .449 slugging mark with a career-high 26 doubles, 16 homers, and 48 RBI over 112 games.

Despite numbers reminiscent of his breakout seasons in 2013 and 2014, Gomes was expelled from the Cleveland roster in a surprise trade at the end of November. With nearly $30 million remaining on his contract over the following three years, the Indians dealt him to the Washington Nationals for pitcher Jefry Rodriguez and minor league prospects Daniel Johnson and Andruw Monasterio.

The trade of the fan favorite Gomes thinned out what was once an organizational position of strength and instead turned the backstop spot into a question mark around the returning Roberto Perez, who had struggled at the plate for stretches of his big league career (he made the trade worthwhile with a career year in 2019). It marked the second significant trade by the Indians of a catcher from their 40-man roster in a four-month span, on the heels of their deadline deal with San Diego in July of 2018 that sent top prospect Francisco Mejia to the Padres for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.

Lofton – Elsa/Getty Images

Before Gomes brought success back to the number, one of the beloved faces in franchise history spent ten years in it while helping lead the Indians to the promised lands of the postseason six different times.

Kenny Lofton’s best seasons in the Majors came with the Indians, the team that sought him out and gave him his first legitimate chance at the big league level. After a brief playing career at the University of Arizona, where his most significant sports contributions may have occurred on the hardwood as a guard on their basketball team, the Houston Astros drafted him in the 17th round of the 1988 draft. After a couple of seasons in the minors, he got a quick taste test of the Bigs with the Astros in 1991, but a crowded outfield made him expendable and he came to the Indians in a trade that winter.

The young center fielder immediately became one of the top speed threats in the game. He either led the American League or all of baseball in steals in five straight seasons from 1992 to 1996 and he was an All-Star in each of the latter three years while winning four straight Gold Glove awards. He was traded to the Atlanta Braves entering the final year of his contract in 1997, but returned to Cleveland for four more years from 1998 to 2001, making his final two All-Star trips in 1998 and 1999.

He left the Indians following the 2001 season as the team began to dismantle and rebuild, beginning a six year stretch of journeyman’s work for the 34-year-old. He split 2002 with the White Sox and Giants, 2003 with the Pirates and Cubs, and then spent full seasons with the Yankees in 2004, the Phillies in 2005, and the Dodgers in 2006. He started 2007 with the Rangers, but was re-acquired by the Indians late in the season for minor league catching prospect Max Ramirez, bringing his number seven back to the playoffs for the first time since 2001 with a Cleveland club that would come devastatingly close to a World Series appearance in what would prove to be the final games of his career.

Four decades before Lofton’s success, Al Rosen was tied to Indians’ World Series teams in 1948 and 1954. It was the latter series in which he actually saw significant time.

Rosen was signed by the Indians prior to the 1942 season, but the young man, like so many of his time, found himself immersed in the world’s war, serving in the Navy from 1943 to 1945. After briefly walking away from the game, he did burst onto the scene at the minor league level and was called up to the Indians for a handful of games during both the 1947 and 1948 seasons. The third baseman, however, saw his path to the Majors blocked by Ken Keltner (himself a veteran of the Navy), but Rosen did get one hitless at bat in the 1948 World Series.

It was more of the same in 1949, as Rosen excelled in the minors with the Indians’ San Diego Padres affiliate while seeing just 23 games of action for the parent club. But in 1950, Keltner was released in mid-April and Rosen took over as the team’s third baseman and proved himself more than ready, launching 37 homers and 23 doubles while driving in 116 runs, batting .287, and supplying a .405 on-base percentage after drawing 100 walks in what would be considered his rookie season. He hit 24 homers and drove in 102 the following season and was an All-Star for the first time in 1952, leading the American League with 105 RBI while adding 32 doubles and 28 homers.

Rosen – JTA Premium Photos

Rosen had one of the best seasons in Cleveland Indians history in 1953, when he was an All-Star for the second time. The Indians would finish eight and a half games in back of the Yankees with a 92-62 record, but their second place finish was due in large part to the contributions of Rosen, who slashed .336/.422/.613 with 27 doubles, a career-high 43 homers, and an MLB-leading 145 RBI, the most hit by a Tribe player since Hal Trosky (himself a fellow #7) drove in 162 in 1936. He narrowly missed the Triple Crown, but he took home the league’s MVP, the second Cleveland player to do so in a span of six years. His honor remains the last time an Indians player was tabbed as the best in the junior circuit.

Rosen hit an even .300 in 1954, appearing in 137 games while working all around the infield. He hit 20 doubles, added in 24 homers, and drove in 102 runs, his fifth straight season over the century mark. The Indians were swept in the World Series by the New York Giants; Rosen went 3-for-12 with three singles and a walk in three games.

His career would be on the downswing from there, as he would be an All-Star one final time in 1955 while hitting .244 with 21 homers and 81 RBI. He hung up his cleats following the 1956 season, ending his ten-year career entirely with the Indians organization after injuries and a difference of opinion on his future wages.

Rosen was away from the game for more than two decades before he entered the front office realm. He worked for a pair of years with George Steinbrenner’s Yankees in 1978 and 1979 and moved on to general manager’s work with the Astros from 1980 to 1985 and later with the Giants through 1992.

Rosen’s contributions to the Indians and the game of baseball were honored in 2015 after he passed away at the age of 91. The team wore his number seven patch on the right sleeve of their jerseys throughout the season.

Other notable 7s in Tribe history (52 in total): Charlie Jamieson (1929), Odell Hale (1931), John Romano (1964), Joe Azcue (1967), Brandon Phillips (2003-05), Matt LaPorta (2009-12), David Murphy (2014-15).

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)

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Miss out on our other Countdown pieces? Check out more Indians history below!

Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 99 (Daniel Robertson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 90 (Adam Cimber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 88 (Phil Maton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 77 (Jack Armstrong)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 76 (Tom Magrann)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 75 (Mike Walker)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 73 (Ricardo Rincon)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 72 (Jason Giambi)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 71 (Johnny Hodapp)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 70 (James Karinchak, George Kontos)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 69 (Luis Medina)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 68 (Jefry Rodriguez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 67 (Aaron Civale, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 66 (Yasiel Puig, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 65 (Zach Plesac, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 64 (Tom Kramer, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 63 (Josh Smith, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 62 (Nick Wittgren, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 61 (Dan Otero, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 60 (Jhonny Peralta, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 59 (Carlos Carrasco)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 58 (Neil Ramirez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 57 (Shane Bieber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 56 (Cody Anderson)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 55 (Roberto Perez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 54 (Hunter Wood)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 53 (Logan Allen)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 52 (Mike Clevinger)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 51 (numerous)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 50 (James Hoyt, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 49 (Tyler Olson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 48 (Emmanuel Clase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 47 (Trevor Bauer)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 46 (Jon Edwards, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 45 (Adam Plutko)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 44 (Nick Goody, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 43 (Josh Tomlin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 42 (Mike Jackson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 41 (Carlos Santana, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 40 (Bobby Bradley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 39 (Oliver Perez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 38 (Eric Haase, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 37 (Cody Allen, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 36 (Tyler Clippard, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 35 (Oscar Mercado, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 34 (A.J. Cole, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 33 (Brad Hand, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 32 (Franmil Reyes, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 31 (Danny Salazar, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 30 (Tyler Naquin, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 29 (Andre Thornton)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 28 (Corey Kluber)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 27 (Kevin Plawecki, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 26 (Max Moroff, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 25 (Jim Thome)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 24 (Carlos Gonzalez, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 23 (Michael Brantley, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 22 (Jason Kipnis)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 21 (Bob Lemon, Rocky Colavito, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 20 (Frank Robinson, others)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 19 (Bob Feller)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 18 (Mel Harder)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 17 (Brad Miller, others)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 16 (Mike Sarbaugh, others)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 15 (Sandy Alomar, Jr.)
Indians’ 2020 Opening Day Countdown Take Two – 14 (Larry Doby)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 13 (Hanley Ramirez, Omar Vizquel)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 12 (Francisco Lindor, Roberto Alomar)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 11 (Jose Ramirez)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 10 (Jake Bauers)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 9 (Carlos Baerga)
Countdown to Indians’ 2020 Opening Day – 8 (Jordan Luplow)

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