2020: Pandemic Pandemonium
Shane Bieber’s march to the Cy Young Award is gaining some traction as Major League Baseball recognized the 25-year-old right-hander as the American League’s Pitcher of the Month of August.
After opening the year with a solid six shutout innings in the Home Opener on July 26 against the Kansas City Royals and winning a key matchup against Minnesota in a 13-strikeout, three-hit performance over eight shutout innings for his second win of 2020, Bieber has remained locked in even after the calendar flipped. He made six starts in August, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.63 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP, striking out 57 batters and walking 12 in 38 2/3 innings of work.
Zach Plesac pitched six quality innings in his return to the Cleveland rotation and Franmil Reyes recorded hits in all five of his at bats as the Indians routed the Kansas City Royals by a 10-1 final on Tuesday night.
One night after losing via eighth inning bullpen collapse, the Indians eliminated any doubt early by chasing Royals starter Matt Harvey after retiring just four batters. The Indians put up five runs in the first two innings, using three long balls to do that damage, then matched that production later in the contest on the way to posting 17 hits in an offensive onslaught.
James Karinchak walked a pair before giving up the game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth and Adam Cimber allowed the winning run to score as the Cleveland Indians dropped their opener against the Kansas City Royals by a 2-1 final on Monday night.
In a rare occurrence, the Indians lost a game started by Shane Bieber, and even more notably so as it came when the Tribe’s ace was pitching following a Cleveland loss. He did his part, but after a good inning of work from the bullpen, things fell apart in unpleasant fashion in the eighth.
It was a busy day for the Cleveland Indians front office ahead of a three-game weekend series with the Kansas City Royals from the western edge of Missouri.
The Indians (21-13) showed some really good things and some really discouraging things all in one trip to Busch Stadium over the weekend. After shelling the St. Louis Cardinals 14-2 in the series opener on Friday night, the club eked out a 2-1 win in their longest game of the season, a 12-inning marathon on Saturday. Sunday, they were dealt a 7-2 decision as Adam Wainwright went the distance for St. Louis.
The forecast in San Diego on Monday includes a little bit of Sunshine.
The Indians and Padres matched up for their third deadline deal in as many seasons on Monday as the two clubs swapped nine players, with Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger serving as the centerpiece of the deal.
Cleveland sends the right-handed starting pitcher, along with outfielder (and former San Diego State product) Greg Allen and a player to be named later, to San Diego for a haul of six players from the prospect-laden Padres, which is now cashing in on years of suffering for a big push to reach the new playoff format birthed out of the global pandemic. Coming to the Indians are Major League catcher Austin Hedges, outfielder Josh Naylor, and right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill, along with three of San Diego’s top minor league prospects – shortstop Gabriel Arias, pitcher Joey Cantillo, and shortstop Owen Miller.
The Cardinals scored seven unanswered runs to overcome an early two-run deficit and Adam Wainwright celebrated his 39th birthday in style, providing St. Louis a gift of his own with a 7-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday afternoon.
The soft-tossing curveball expert was just what the Cardinals needed to knock the Indians off balance after Cleveland claimed the first two games of the three-game weekend set. Looking to end a four-game losing skid, the Cardinals veteran right-hander limited the Indians to just two early runs and four hits in total while his St. Louis teammates jumped all over Cleveland starter Aaron Civale in a big second inning.
Both pitchers saw the minimum in the first inning. Wainwright retired the side in order, while Tommy Edman reached on a one-out grounder to first and moved to second on a groundout by Paul Goldschmidt before he was thrown out trying to steal third against Roberto Perez.
Tyler Naquin’s RBI-double in the 12th inning broke a 1-1 tie and Brad Hand benefited from a game-ending base running blunder as the Cleveland Indians won a 2-1 contest against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.
The middle game of three from Busch Stadium provided no clinic in baseball fundamentals as neither team was particularly sharp. From start to finish, there were missed opportunities on both sides. There were mistakes on the base paths and behind the plate. At the dish, the two clubs combined to ground into four double plays and left 19 men on base while contributing a 3-for-29 showing with runners in scoring position. Twelve pitchers combined for 23 strikeouts and eleven walks while needing 369 pitches over 12 long innings of work.
The Cleveland Indians jumped out to a six-run lead early and added on eight more runs in the middle innings to blow out the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, 14-2, on Friday night.
Home field was no advantage for the Cardinals in St. Louis as they were shelled for 14 runs on 20 hits, including seven extra base knocks, as the Indians started out their road trip on the right note. Rookie Triston McKenzie was backed with that big run support from the Tribe bats, which pounced on a tough Cardinals pitching staff and sent nine men to the plate in the first inning to stake out an early lead. The offense added two runs in each of the second, fifth, and seventh innings, and used a four-run sixth to erase any doubts of a rally from the host Red Birds.
It feels fitting that Major League Baseball honors one of the legends of the game on Friday given the current unrest plaguing the country.
Jackie Robinson Day, typically recognized on April 15 of each season, did not get its due this year as baseball was on the bench due to the coronavirus. Now with play well under way and half of the season already in the books, MLB will take pause to honor the first African American to reach the big league level back in 1947. As is done every year, the number 42 will come out of league-wide retirement as all players will don the digits on Friday.
Twins reliever Sergio Romo had an animated back-and-forth with the Indians dugout in Cleveland’s loss to Minnesota on Monday. Those same players made sure to have the last laugh on Wednesday before Romo left town as Cleveland broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the eighth with three big runs off of him and the Twins bullpen to secure a series win in a 6-3 final.
Games across the nation in multiple sports came to a pause on Wednesday as players, teams, and entire leagues took pause to use their respective platforms to stand up and voice their united displeasure with the ongoing racial divides, discrimination, hate-filled brutalities, and inequalities present in the United States, most recently and notably in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week.
The game went on for some. The Indians and Twins played their series finale from downtown Cleveland, while games in Milwaukee (against Cincinnati), San Diego (versus Seattle), and San Francisco (hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers) were postponed on the heels of the cancellations of the day’s NBA first round playoff series and WNBA action.
The Cleveland Indians put up three runs on the Minnesota bullpen in the bottom of the sixth to back another quality showing from Shane Bieber and defeat the Twins by a 4-2 count on Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Bieber was not quite as crisp as he had been through his first six starts of the season, needing a few innings to settle in and look more like his usual self. But being the pitcher that he has been throughout his brief big league career, Bieber minimized early damage and kept the game close long enough for the Indians bats to finally break through with a big inning in the sixth to provide the decisive runs of the contest.
The big bats of the Minnesota Twins delivered in their usual fashion as a pair of home runs off of Cleveland starter Aaron Civale proved to be the difference in a 3-2 final from Progressive Field on Monday night.
Home runs were the story for both clubs through the first two-thirds of the game as Civale and Kenta Maeda locked into a pitchers’ duel. Both pitchers were coming off of their best outings of the season – Civale allowed a run in a complete game win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Maeda carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.