There will be at least two more games at Progressive Field this season, as the Indians, using a pair of three-run innings in the sixth and seventh, rallied back to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the season finale from downtown Cleveland on Sunday.
Combined with the White Sox’s 10-8 loss against the crosstown Chicago Cubs (despite a large late rally that brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth), the Indians have clinched the fourth spot in the American League playoff bracket and will host the New York Yankees in the best-of-three AL Wild Card round beginning Tuesday.
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.
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.
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.
The final score was hardly indicative of the game, as Carlos Carrasco allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings of work and Jose Ramirez went yard twice as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Detroit Tigers, 7-4, on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians (29-24) used a stellar performance from Carrasco and a rare offensive outburst to take care of the Tigers (22-30) for the seventh time in ten chances in 2020. The Tribe bullpen blew the shutout in the eighth inning as the Tigers made things a little more interesting than they should have been, but the relief corps ultimately closed the door on Detroit for the season with an overall lopsided result while reducing the team’s magic number for a playoff berth down to three.
Zach Plesac got back on track on Friday night, shutting down Detroit for seven and two-thirds innings while making some baseball history, and the Cleveland bullpen secured the final four outs with a couple of scares along the way as the Indians blanked the Tigers in a 1-0 contest.
Plesac’s case for the number two starter in the Tribe’s potential playoff rotation was strengthened with an impressive effort all around in the second of four games from Detroit’s Comerica Park this weekend. He made a season-high 112 pitches, throwing 76 for strikes with 21 swings and misses throughout the evening. That helped him to amass eleven strikeouts of Tigers hitters, matching his career-best established in his first start of the season against the Chicago White Sox on July 29. He walked one batter and allowed just five hits while keeping the Tigers in check all night. It marked Plesac’s seventh straight start this season of six innings or more and his fifth start overall allowing one run or less in a day’s work.
The Cleveland Indians tagged Kansas City’s Brad Keller for a season-high five runs and held off the struggling Royals in a 5-2 contest on Labor Day to move back into a first place tie with the idle Chicago White Sox.
Following the lead of Zach Plesac in his second start back in the rotation, the Indians scored a couple of runs early, added on in the middle innings, and tacked on some insurance late to knock off Kansas City in game one of four from Progressive Field this week. Plesac went seven innings, giving the Indians a solid quality start for the fifth straight outing to open his 2020 season.
Some late insurance runs and a good job by the bullpen picking up Shane Bieber in his shortest outing of the year paced the Cleveland Indians to a 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon.
It was a tale of two starts for Bieber, who breezed through the first three innings before running into some trouble in the fourth and fifth frames in his shortest start of the season. Despite the mixed results, he limited the Brewers to just a run in five innings of work while striking out ten. The bullpen took care of things the rest of the way, while the offense scored two big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to give the pitching staff some wiggle room.
Cesar Hernandez tied the game in the middle innings and came through once again in the clutch as he delivered the game-winning hit through five infielders to give the Cleveland Indians a walk-off victory against closer Josh Hader and the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-3, on Saturday night.
Hader’s hitless streak of 12 straight games to open the 2020 season came to a close as Cleveland got to him twice in the bottom of the ninth to send the Indians to a big victory over the Brewers in a rare clunker for the Milwaukee closer. It all transpired in the blink of an eye and a five-pitch span as Oscar Mercado laced a hustle double off of the wall in left to start Hader’s night. A wild pitch moved the speedster to third base and with five players standing around the infield looking to cut Mercado down at the plate, Hernandez split the third baseman and shortstop with a screamer through the left side to give the Tribe its first walk-off win of the year.
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.
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.