2020: Pandemic Pandemonium
Every game feels all the more important in a 60-game schedule, which means this week’s four-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins could have a significant effect on how the American League Central Division plays out in 2020.
The Indians (4-2) are off to a hot start, led by incredible starting pitching performances from six different starters. The team could very well be sitting at a 6-0 record, but a late loss in extra innings in the second game of the season against the Kansas City Royals and a tough defeat on Wednesday night when the Chicago White Sox tagged Brad Hand for four runs in the ninth have left the Indians a half game out of first place, trailing only the Twins.
The Chicago White Sox avoided a costly series sweep in Cleveland on Wednesday, rallying for four runs in the ninth inning against Indians closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber for a 4-0 win in an outcome contrary to the story through the first eight innings of the day.
The Cleveland Indians’ depth behind the plate will be tested this season as starting catcher Roberto Perez was placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with a right shoulder strain.
Perez had experienced discomfort with the shoulder since making an impressive play during the Indians’ season opening game against the Kansas City Royals, when he tracked down a third strike wild pitch, slipped, and completed the throw to first from the seat of his pants. Perez jammed his shoulder on the play and felt some tightness but tried to push through it in the days that followed. It continued to persist, leading the Indians to select the contract of backstop Beau Taylor from the team’s minor league camp in Eastlake on Tuesday, less than a day before placing Perez on the IL.
He will be shut down from throwing for a week before he is re-evaluated, but he will continue to work out with the other players on the 60-man roster at the team’s Alternate Training Site in Eastlake.
Early scoring and strong starting pitching provided the keys to the game again for the Cleveland Indians as they completed a doubleheader sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 5-3 win in the nightcap on Tuesday night.
Adam Plutko stepped in with a spot start for manager Terry Francona after Monday’s rainout and did everything that could have been asked of him. He limited the White Sox to just a pair of runs over six innings, while his offense provided a big jolt right out of the gate.
Francisco Lindor paced the Indians to an early lead in support of a quality start from Aaron Civale, and the Cleveland bullpen worked out of several jams to secure a 4-3 win in game one of Tuesday’s twinbill from Progressive Field.
Civale, beginning the season on the Indians roster for the first time in his career, worked around a one-out infield single by Yoan Moncada, striking out a pair in the first frame of his 2020 campaign. Facing another second-year right-hander in Dylan Cease, the Indians got to work quickly in the home half after a good at bat from Cesar Hernandez concluded with a single to right. Jose Ramirez worked Cease for seven pitches before flying to center for the first out. Lindor cut and missed on a low changeup for strike one of his at bat, then caught a four-seamer in his nitro zone, sending the pitch well over the wall in right for a two-run blast to put the Indians up early. Carlos Santana followed with an infield single to short before he was stranded there.
Well this is just cruel and unfair.
Three games into the 2020 season, when fans had just added baseball back into their TV viewing and radio listening routines, the Indians have suffered their first uncontrollable setback of the campaign. The series opener between Cleveland and the visiting Chicago White Sox was postponed by the rain that had affected the region for much of the afternoon.
Game one of the series has been rescheduled for 3:30 PM ET on Tuesday afternoon as part of a traditional doubleheader.
Baseball in Cleveland returned without a glitch over the weekend, as the Indians successfully hosted the Kansas City Royals and took two of three from the visiting club to continue a strong reign of dominance over their rebuilding divisional rival in contests from Progressive Field.
The task will be more difficult for the Tribe this week, as the rebuilt and more balanced Chicago White Sox will come to town for three evening affairs to close out the Indians’ season-opening six-game homestand.
It was great to see baseball back on TV, even if the whole experiment winds up being short-lived due to the nonstop life complications presented by the coronavirus.
Major League Baseball returned to the diamond on Thursday and carried on into the weekend as the 30 teams opened up their 2020 shortened schedules. Results were mixed – some teams saw poor pitching but great offensive work, while others struggled with the bat but pitched well. Errors and bad base running made their guest appearances, too. All were to be expected as teams kicked off four months of rust that was impossible to get rid of over a couple of weeks of Summer Camp.
With three games in the books, here’s a look back at some of the talking points of the first series of the season.
In his first start since May 30th of a year ago, Carlos Carrasco provided the Cleveland Indians with six quality innings on the mound while the Tribe bats came alive against the Royals bullpen in a 9-2 drubbing of Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.
The series finale between the Indians and Royals provided a lot of encouraging signs as Cleveland pitching continued its strong start to the season while the offense erupted for nine runs on 13 hits against eight different Royals relievers, as Kansas City skipper Mike Matheny had to go with a bullpen game with two of his starters shelved after battles with the coronavirus. The Indians had big days from several guys in the lineup, but no one bigger than Jose Ramirez.
Taking advantage of the runner-on-second rule implemented for the 2020 season’s shortened schedule, the Kansas City Royals used a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly against reliever James Karinchak in the top of the tenth, then got three straight strikeouts from Greg Holland in the bottom of the inning with the tying and winning runs on base to hold off the host Cleveland Indians, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon.
In a speedy two hour and 52 minute contest, there was little excitement for either club as both offenses were limited to brief scoring outbursts. The Indians had opportunities late in each of the last two innings, but were unable to come through in the clutch, stranding five men (three in scoring position) in those at bats.
Shane Bieber pitched like he was in midseason form, even though the July 24th contest between the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals marked the first game of the 2020 season. The Tribe bats scratched across a pair of runs to support Bieber’s 14 strikeouts over six scoreless four-hit innings as the Indians blanked the Royals by a 2-0 final from Progressive Field.
Bieber put together a historic effort in the annals of Indians history, surpassing the team’s previous mark for strikeouts in a season-opening performance established by Gary Bell on April 19, 1960, when he struck out a dozen Tigers in a 4-2 loss to Detroit in 15 innings. Bieber tallied his 14 Ks over six innings, while Bell worked ten and one-third innings in that record-setting outing.
With fans forced to take in the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day from home this year due to the coronavirus, here is a little Opening Day trivia to pass the time. The questions are broken down arbitrarily into categories, ranked accordingly (and with some perceived bias) by me.
Answers follow further down the page.