Where, oh where, have the Cleveland Indians gone?
I’ll tell you where. To the very bottom of the American League playoff bracket. Oh, and by the way, things won’t get any easier for the Tribe this week when they face off with National League Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish on Tuesday and tough left-hander Jon Lester on Wednesday in a pair of games against one of the leading squads in the Senior Circuit in the Chicago Cubs.
It’s been a bad week for the Tribe, without a doubt. Defense faltered early in the week, the offense sputtered (but this isn’t necessarily a new thing this season), and the pitching staff made the weekend set with Minnesota look more like a special Twins edition of Home Run Derby. They did their part to waken the “Bomba Squad”.
The “Bomba Squad” was back at it again at Target Field on Sunday as the Minnesota bats drove three out of the park against starter Triston McKenzie to overcome an early three-run deficit and tacked on a fourth blast for good measure as the Twins swept the Cleveland Indians with a 7-5 final.
The Indians pitching staff has been so good for much of the season, but this weekend served as a sufficient reminder that the team was going to need some offense to make any real noise come playoff time. The bats woke up slowly on Saturday and had ample opportunity on Sunday to try to support the pitching staff, but a home run barrage from the Twins lineup for the third straight day proved to be too much for the Tribe offense to contend with as the team’s tailspin continued with a sixth straight defeat.
The Indians dropped their fifth straight game as Cleveland pitching was tagged for five home runs by the Minnesota Twins in an 8-4 loss on Saturday night.
The Tribe showed a little more punch in their bats on Saturday than they had over much of the week, but the Twins bested that performance with five long balls to score all eight of their runs. Cleveland starter Zach Plesac was responsible for three of the homers, but pitched well around those mistakes. The Indians bats could not do enough, scratching out half of their runs in the second half of the game before the Twins’ “Bomba Squad” added big insurance off of Nick Wittgren.
After failing to capitalize in their second-to-last homestand of the season, the Cleveland Indians will head back out on the road for the next nine games, looking to continue good results away from Progressive Field, beginning with a three-game weekend set with the second place Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (26-18) missed out on a big opportunity to pick up ground in the American League Central during the week as Kansas City beat them up three times in a four-game series, leaving the club with a disappointing 3-4 homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers and the Royals. The loss on Thursday dropped the Indians to third place in the division, a game and a half behind the first place Chicago White Sox.
The Kansas City Royals scored five times in the final three innings, overcoming an early 5-3 deficit, and held off a late rally attempt by the Indians in an 8-6 victory from Cleveland on Tuesday night.
The long ball was the story of the early scoring on the night for both clubs, but some extra opportunities provided by the Tribe defense and relief corps allowed the Royals to climb back into the game and steal away a victory from the host Clevelanders in ugly fashion in a contest that could have easily had different results for the Indians.
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.
James Karinchak walked a pair before giving up the game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth and Adam Cimber allowed the winning run to score as the Cleveland Indians dropped their opener against the Kansas City Royals by a 2-1 final on Monday night.
In a rare occurrence, the Indians lost a game started by Shane Bieber, and even more notably so as it came when the Tribe’s ace was pitching following a Cleveland loss. He did his part, but after a good inning of work from the bullpen, things fell apart in unpleasant fashion in the eighth.
The Cleveland Indians jumped out to a six-run lead early and added on eight more runs in the middle innings to blow out the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, 14-2, on Friday night.
Home field was no advantage for the Cardinals in St. Louis as they were shelled for 14 runs on 20 hits, including seven extra base knocks, as the Indians started out their road trip on the right note. Rookie Triston McKenzie was backed with that big run support from the Tribe bats, which pounced on a tough Cardinals pitching staff and sent nine men to the plate in the first inning to stake out an early lead. The offense added two runs in each of the second, fifth, and seventh innings, and used a four-run sixth to erase any doubts of a rally from the host Red Birds.
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.
The big bats of the Minnesota Twins delivered in their usual fashion as a pair of home runs off of Cleveland starter Aaron Civale proved to be the difference in a 3-2 final from Progressive Field on Monday night.
Home runs were the story for both clubs through the first two-thirds of the game as Civale and Kenta Maeda locked into a pitchers’ duel. Both pitchers were coming off of their best outings of the season – Civale allowed a run in a complete game win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Maeda carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cleveland’s 20-game winning streak over Detroit and six-game winning streak in general both came to a sudden halt on Friday night as the Tigers pummeled Adam Plutko for seven runs in a disastrous fourth inning as the Indians blew a five-run lead on the way to a 10-5 loss.
In a sudden and dramatic blink of an eye, the Indians’ substantial five-run lead evaporated on Friday as the Tigers erupted in a cathartic seven-run fourth inning to end their woes against Cleveland and turn the scales in their favor, capped by the first Major League home run, a grand slam, by rookie Isaac Paredes.