Baseball has a problem staring it in the face and no more obvious is that dilemma apparent than at the downtown Cleveland offices of the franchise soon-to-be remembered as the Indians.
Plenty of uncertainty loomed over the state of the Major League Baseball landscape with the persistent public squabbles that put the 2020 season in jeopardy due to the safety and logistical concerns created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic plaguing the country beginning ten months ago. While owners and players were ultimately able to get in 60 unattended regular season games at a financial loss, the ramifications of the lost revenues cast a gray cloud over the game as teams have had to adapt and adjust to the changed marketplace. The disjointed relationships between owners and players and the fiscal damages sustained, plus the wrecking ball smashed into the minor league system, all spell some unpleasant feelings about how negotiations may transpire as time ticks away on baseball’s most recent collective bargaining agreement, set to expire on December 1 of this year.
As for the Cleveland baseball club, the efforts of the front office this offseason seem to spell out both doom and gloom as the perennial playoff contending roster has been systematically dismantled for cheaper alternatives while once again putting the organization in a negative spotlight. Most recently in the news for its decision to rebrand for 2022 in the sake of political correctness, now the Dolan-led front office group is being criticized for having an active team salary base that is less than individual one-year commitments that teams have made to several dozens of the game’s brightest stars. Thursday’s trade of future big earner Francisco Lindor and moderate investment Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets further highlighted the Indians’ extensive cost-cutting efforts.
If the team was looking to roll out “Pennypinchers”, “Scrooges”, or “Misers” as its new moniker moving forward, it has hit the ground running in embracing the name.
Cleveland fans were warned in March of 2019 to “enjoy him”, but the long anticipated move finally happened on Thursday as the Indians announced the trade of four-time All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets.
Joining Lindor in relocating to Queens was starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco, the longest tenured representative of the franchise and a fan favorite after his public battle with leukemia two seasons ago. His name was floated about some during the Winter Meetings, but with several years of control at what was perceived as a reasonable cost, his inclusion frees up significant finances over the next few years from a position of strength in the Indians organization. The Indians have previously over the last several years dealt from the starting rotation, removing Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Corey Kluber for packages of prospects or just general salary relief.
Burn on, big river, burn on.
In what will likely be his final inning in an Indians uniform, Brad Hand blew his first save of the season and handed the Yankees a pair of runs in the top of the ninth as New York rallied in a messy, ugly, crazy game to defeat Cleveland, 10-9.
The city of Cleveland got 75 minutes of October baseball and was dealt a devastating first round exit for the third time in four years as the Indians could not hold off the pesky New York baseball team, which got healthy just in time to spoil any hopes for the Indians to end a 72-year championship drought in the realm of Major League Baseball.
The Cleveland Indians make their return to the postseason this week as the fourth seed in the eight-team format specially implemented for this pandemic-shortened season. The Indians will host the series in Cleveland for the only time allowed in the bracket system, with the rival New York Yankees coming to town for a battle to two wins in the three-game American League Wild Card Series.
The Indians (35-25) used some home field magic over the course of the last week of the regular season, jumping from the seventh seed to the fourth seed on the final day of play with a big come-from-behind victory on Sunday to take two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the heels of a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox. The better results down the stretch earned the team the right to host the first round Wild Card Series from Progressive Field, as opposed to having to travel for road matchups in Chicago, Minnesota, or Oakland that may not have been as favorable for the Tribe.
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 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.
This is a big weekend for the Cleveland Indians. With a chance to face a team that they have had good luck with over the last couple of years, it may be just what the doctor ordered to cure all that ails the team’s struggles and depressed disposition.
The Indians (26-23), as you likely know by now, have lost eight straight contests during series with the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, and Chicago Cubs. Losses against a young Royals team was a bad look and the team missed some big opportunities to gain some ground in what once was a tightly contested American League Central during their series with the Twins. The Indians lost both games to the Cubs in walk-off fashion while showing some glimmers of hope that they would emerge from this losing skid before the end of the season. Those losses dropped them six games in back of the first place Chicago White Sox.
When things are going bad, teams have a tendency of finding new ways to lose. That was exactly the case on Tuesday night in Chicago, where the visiting Clevelanders lost on a bases loaded hit by pitch in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cubs a 6-5 walk-off victory.
Trailing by a 5-3 count in the top of the ninth, the Indians pulled off a rally that felt improbable given the club’s play of late. Facing closer Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Naylor walked on five pitches. Delino DeShields, with three hits to his credit already on the night, grounded slowly to third to move the runner into scoring position. Jeffress fell behind Francisco Lindor 2-0 before the Tribe shortstop caught a sinker thigh-high and out over the plate. He lofted a fly ball the opposite way and just over the left field wall to tie the game at five. Mike Freeman followed with a walk before Jose Ramirez grounded into a double play.
The pressure is on the Cleveland Indians to figure out all that plagues them presently and they will be tasked with doing so against a World Series contender in the Chicago Cubs in a pair of games at Wrigley Field this week.
The Indians (26-21) find themselves in a bad place at the moment. Despite the offense picking up some on Sunday, the team blew a decent early lead to drop a sixth straight ball game when they were swept by the Minnesota Twins. Coupled with a Chicago White Sox win on Monday over those same Twins, the Indians are five games out of first place in the American League Central and three games in back of Minnesota with 13 games to play in the 2020 slate.
“Why does everyone talk about the past? All that counts is tomorrow’s game.” – Roberto Clemente
Extra outs given to the Kansas City Royals, defensive miscues for a second straight night by the usually staunch Cleveland defense, and a missing Indians offense added up to a 3-0 Tribe loss on Wednesday night.
On a day that Major League Baseball honored the life and legacy of legendary Pittsburgh Pirate Roberto Clemente, the Indians forgot how to do offense and defense, two particular pieces of the game of baseball that the beloved outfielder is well remembered for. On a day that the Milwaukee Brewers ran up 19 runs on the Detroit Tigers and the Atlanta Braves plated eleven in one inning against the New York Mets, the Indians were blanked on six hits by a pitching staff not exactly well-known for dominance this season.
For the second straight week, the Indians and Kansas City Royals will be staring each other down on the diamond, but this time, they will do so in Cleveland at Progressive Field in an important four-game set for the Tribe.
The Indians (25-15) kept pace with the first place Chicago White Sox over the weekend. The Sox hold a half-game lead over the Tribe as they prepare for a series with the Pittsburgh Pirates (13-26), while the Indians will host one of the junior circuit’s worst teams in the Royals. Cleveland took two of three from Milwaukee over the weekend, losing a little ground on Chicago, which has won four in a row.