2020: Pandemic Pandemonium
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.
Finally, after four months of pandemic delays, the 2020 Major League Baseball season is under way. The New York Yankees defeated the Washington Nationals in a rain-shortened 4-1 victory in the first game of the season on Thursday, while the host Los Angeles Dodgers rolled the San Francisco Giants in an 8-1 final in the day’s night cap.
The Cleveland Indians open their first three of ten games with the Kansas City Royals on Friday, July 24, as the Tribe kicks off 17 straight games to begin the season. The 60-game schedule will see the Indians play ten games each with its rivals in the American League Central, as well as six games with the Pittsburgh Pirates, four games each against the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, and three games with the Milwaukee Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals in localized, regional play.
The Indians fell short of the playoffs in 2019, finishing in second place in the American League Central with a 93-69 record. It marked the fifth time in the Terry Francona era that the Indians had topped the 90-win mark in a season, but the first time the team was left outside of the postseason in such a campaign.
It is tough to know how rosters will be handled during this bizarre 2020 season, and the Indians is already in flux.
Prior to the team’s season opener on Friday night against the Kansas City Royals, the Cleveland Indians announced that outfielder Daniel Johnson was being recalled from the team’s Alternate Training Site in Eastlake. A corresponding roster move was not needed to create a roster spot, as fifth starter Zach Plesac has not formally been added to the 30-man roster.
The Indians will have to make a move on Tuesday to add Plesac to the club’s roster prior to his start against the Chicago White Sox.