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.
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 was one of the most shocking moments of the 2019 Indians season as the team announced the unnamed blood disorder that prompted Carlos Carrasco to leave the team was, in fact, leukemia.
And it was one of the most touching moments when the Indians showed their support for the starting pitcher during the “Stand Up to Cancer” moment at the All-Star Game at Progressive Field.
Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 59 days
The 2019 season had a lot of unexpected obstacles for the Cleveland Indians, but none resonated more with the Major League Baseball community than the leukemia battle fought by Carlos Carrasco.
Every year since 1971, Major League Baseball has recognized a player for his contributions to the community and for representing a philanthropic attitude with a desire for helping others. Each club nominates a player and the winner is picked annually during the World Series.
The Indians used four runs in the first two innings to claim a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies from downtown Cleveland on Friday night.
Shane Bieber won his 15th on the year with another quality start on the mound for the Indians. He allowed just two runs over seven and one-third innings while striking out seven, while former Phillie Carlos Carrasco shut down the only other organization that he has been a member of with a four-out save for his first in the big leagues since 2014.
Seven Cleveland pitchers combined to hold off Los Angeles, 4-3, on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep in Anaheim and a six-game season sweep of the Angels by the Indians.
A homer in the first and three runs in the second backed Tribe pitching on Wednesday, as starter Adam Plutko and six relievers behind him held off the Halos as the Indians pulled back within four games of the first place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and stayed a half game in back of Oakland for the second AL Wild Card spot. The combined efforts allowed Cleveland (86-61) to gain ground in the division, while the Angels fell to 67-80 with their fourth straight loss.
For the second straight game for the Cleveland Indians at Target Field, the Tribe used a four-run frame in extra innings to knock off the Minnesota Twins, this time skipping the Carlos Santana grand slam and instead using three separate RBI base knocks with two men out to stun the host club in a 6-2 final.
A game dominated by solid starting pitching on both sides of the field was decided by the bullpens in eleven innings. The Indians sent ten men to the plate in the eleventh, putting up four hits while plating four runs with two men out to earn a much-needed win in the first of six games remaining between Cleveland and Minnesota in the month of September. The Tribe, desperate for every win possible as they look to remain in the mix in the American League Central race as well as the AL Wild Card chase, pulled off the stunning win for their fifth win against the Twins in their last six contests.
In a key matchup against a potential playoff foe this weekend, the Cleveland Indians did not show up. The Tampa Bay Rays, however, got another strong pitching performance from All-Star Charlie Morton and piled up runs in the middle and late innings to complete a three-game sweep of the Indians behind an 8-2 final.
The Cleveland bats were missing for much of the weekend, much as they have been over the course of the last couple of weeks. For the second time in the last four series, the Indians failed to earn a win against a playoff caliber opponent while looking as though they have run out of gas after several demoralizing late season injuries have put significant dents in the offense. The Tribe mustered just six hits, and both runs scored came from Jake Bauers, who rejoined the team after a month away to replace the injured Tyler Naquin, who was lost after a torn ACL suffered in Friday night’s loss.
Aaron Civale gave Cleveland seven quality innings on the mound while the Indians used three solo home runs to defeat the Detroit Tigers by a 4-2 final on Wednesday night.
Detroit got a surprisingly strong start from Jordan Zimmermann, who overcame career-long struggles against the Indians with a quality start. He left with the game tied as the Tigers evened up the score with a solo homer in the sixth, but Civale lasted one more inning and landed in the win column after Francisco Lindor’s 24th homer of the season put Cleveland back in front late.