Posts By Bob Toth
No-hit for more than six innings by Pittsburgh, the Cleveland Indians made their handful of late hits count as they rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to steal a 4-3 win from the Pirates on Friday night.
The stunning comeback by the Indians (34-24) moved the club back into second place as their late season charge up the standings has altered the American League playoff picture significantly. Winning for the sixth straight time, the Indians used three runs in the ninth inning to capitalize against Pittsburgh after wasting a small village of free base runners that came courtesy of Pirates top prospect Mitch Keller as part of a stat line that was hard to believe.
Will these be the final three home games of the 2020 season for the Cleveland Indians?
The Indians (33-24) are playing their best baseball of the season and the timing could not be more perfect as the team prepares for a return to the postseason for the first time since 2018. The Indians have won five straight games and took a wrecking ball to the American League playoff bracket by sweeping four consecutive games from the Chicago White Sox during the week to knock them out of the top spot in the AL Central. The Indians will need some luck to claim the divisional crown as they would need to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend while relying on the Cincinnati Reds, playoff bound themselves, to take all three games against the Minnesota Twins. The Indians enter the day two games behind the Twins, which holds the tie breaker between the two teams, while the Tribe sits one game behind the White Sox for the second spot in the division.
The Cleveland Indians continued to wreak havoc on the American League playoff bracket on Thursday, using a four-run outburst in the seventh trailing three runs to complete a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox in a 5-4 final from Progressive Field.
Four-game sweeps are hard to pull off under any circumstance, but especially against a division rival which entered the weekday series sitting in the top spot in the American League Central. The Indians pulled off another victory with more late inning heroics, using a big rally Thursday on the heels of back-to-back walk-off wins in the middle games of the series to deal a significant blow to the White Sox’s pursuit of the division crown.
Shane Bieber’s meteoric rise from pitching prospect just a few years ago to a bona fide Cy Young and Pitching Triple Crown candidate this season has truly been something to watch.
Bursting on the scene with a solid 11-5 showing in 20 games during his rookie season in 2018, Bieber really started to catch some eyes last year. He had a stellar first half, named to his first American League All-Star team as a replacement, then struck out the side in a stunning effort in the exhibition contest at Progressive Field that July while taking home the game’s Most Valuable Player honors, the first by an Indians player since Sandy Alomar Jr. also did it in a home contest in 1997. Bieber finished the year with a 15-8 record in 34 games, posting a 3.28 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with 259 strikeouts in 214 1/3 innings of work. He led the league with 1.7 walks per nine innings and led all of baseball with three complete games and two shutouts.
Jason Giambi sends a pinch-hit, two-run, walk-off home run into the visitor’s bullpen in right in the bottom of the ninth as the Cleveland Indians come back to win a 5-4 final over the Chicago White Sox. It was, as announcer Tom Hamilton proclaimed, “Mardi Gras, in September, in Cleveland.”
Jordan Luplow played the hero on Wednesday, giving the Cleveland Indians their fourth consecutive win and their second straight walk-off victory in a 3-2 final over the Chicago White Sox.
With a history of mashing against the White Sox, Luplow stepped to the dish against Chicago left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, 2-2. After a grounder to short by pinch-hitter Delino DeShields, Gonzalez fell behind 3-0 to Luplow, who had struck out in each of his first three at bats on the night. The next offering to the Tribe outfielder was a meatball down the middle and Luplow mashed it onto the Home Run Porch with a no-doubt-about-it walk-off shot, giving the Indians the 3-2 win.
Seven of Luplow’s 17 homers with the Indians in the last two seasons have come against the White Sox. It was his first career walk-off homer.
In one of the most anticlimactic playoff pursuits in the 120-year history of the Cleveland Indians franchise, Jose Ramirez found a way to make it a little extra special on Tuesday night. Ramirez’s three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning capped a four-run frame and sent the Indians home a 5-3 walk-off winner on Tuesday night, reducing the team’s magic number for a postseason berth to zero in memorable fashion.
The Indians fell behind two runs in the top of the tenth inning as the White Sox knocked in a pair against reliever Phil Maton to break a 1-1 tie. Designated runner James McCann opened the inning at second and watched as Maton won an eight-pitch exchange with Luis Robert, punching out the young star for out number one. Adam Engel, better known for his defensive work than his bat, worked the count full before driving the seventh pitch of his at bat to the gap for an RBI-triple, putting the White Sox on top for the first time on the night, 2-1. Nick Madrigal singled through the pulled in infield to score Engel to make it 3-1 before Maton got out of the inning.
While the Indians would win their sixth straight game, an 8-3 victory in Cleveland over the Boston Red Sox to reach the 90-win plateau for just the second time in the 20-year history of the franchise, a future component of the team’s next two American League pennant winning clubs after this season is born in San Bernardino, California.
It was a nail-biting finish from the corner of Carnegie and Ontario on Monday night as the Cleveland Indians and closer Brad Hand held off the Chicago White Sox’s ninth inning threat to capture a 7-4 win in the series opener.
The Tribe’s All-Star closer came on as the fourth Tribe pitcher of the day looking to slam the door with a three-run lead. Rookie nine-hitter Nick Madrigal fought off several pitches to work the count back to even before dropping in a single to shallow center to lead off the inning. Tim Anderson launched a rocket deep to center; Delino DeShields raced back to the warning track and leapt, snagging the blast from the air at the top of the fence for the first out. Yoan Moncada grounded to Jose Ramirez’s left and off of his glove into left field for a fielder’s choice and error, bringing the tying run to the plate. James McCann, hitting for an injured Yasmani Grandal, fouled off several pitches before watching a high slider on the outside edge for a called third strike for out number two. Jose Abreu, the White Sox’s last hope and more than capable of tying the game up with one swing, left the bat on the shoulder for a called third strike on the outside corner to give the Tribe a big first win in the four-game set between the two clubs this week.
Seven games. Seven days. And just like that, the 2020 regular season will be over and the 2020 Major League Baseball playoff bracket madness will begin.
The Indians (29-24) have not punched their ticket to the postseason, but barring something horrific happening over the next week, it is almost a foregone conclusion. That said, it may seem highly unlikely given the way that the last few weeks have gone, but the Indians still could catch the White Sox (34-19) in the American League Central, although that has hardly been a topic of conversation over much of September given the inconsistent play of the Clevelanders. The Indians, after taking three of four from the Tigers in Detroit over the weekend, enter the four-game weekday set with the White Sox trailing by five games. While that task may be too steep a hill to climb in a week, the Indians could still catch up with the second place Minnesota Twins, which holds a three-game lead over the Tribe with five games left on its schedule.
The Indians come into the series with a magic number of two to ensure a playoff spot, with that number reduced at present by any combination of Cleveland victories and Seattle defeats.