In one of the most anticlimactic playoff pursuits in the 120-year history of the Cleveland Indians franchise, Jose Ramirez found a way to make it a little extra special on Tuesday night. Ramirez’s three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the tenth inning capped a four-run frame and sent the Indians home a 5-3 walk-off winner on Tuesday night, reducing the team’s magic number for a postseason berth to zero in memorable fashion.
The Indians fell behind two runs in the top of the tenth inning as the White Sox knocked in a pair against reliever Phil Maton to break a 1-1 tie. Designated runner James McCann opened the inning at second and watched as Maton won an eight-pitch exchange with Luis Robert, punching out the young star for out number one. Adam Engel, better known for his defensive work than his bat, worked the count full before driving the seventh pitch of his at bat to the gap for an RBI-triple, putting the White Sox on top for the first time on the night, 2-1. Nick Madrigal singled through the pulled in infield to score Engel to make it 3-1 before Maton got out of the inning.
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.
Trying to protect a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Indians bullpen was tagged by the Tigers bats for four runs as Cleveland lost a 5-2 game in Detroit on Saturday night.
After coming back from an early one-run deficit, the Indians had held the lead since a two-run third pushed the club in front, 2-1. After three scoreless innings of relief from Cal Quantrill and Nick Wittgren, the Tribe turned to Phil Maton for the eighth, but he immediately ran into trouble. He walked the leadoff man Harold Castro, who was lifted for pinch-runner Derek Hill. Maton struck out Jorge Bonifacio for the first out, but his next pitch to Niko Goodrum was blooped into left for a base hit. Eric Haase, the former Indians catcher, singled to center to push in the tying run, knotting the game at two. Daz Cameron, the struggling rookie, got a hit for the second straight at bat, singling to right to score Goodrum from third to give the Tigers their first lead since the third. Miguel Cabrera pinch-hit for Isaac Paredes and drew a walk to load the bases. Cam Hill took over for Maton and promptly walked Victor Reyes to force in Haase, making it a 4-2 Tigers lead. Willi Castro lofted a fly ball to shallow right field. Tyler Naquin made the catch near the foul line and tried to throw to the plate on the run. Carlos Santana cut the ball on what may have been a close play at the plate, allowing Cameron to score to make it a 5-2 game. Jeimer Candelario flied to center to strand a pair.
The Indians (27-23) ended an eight-game losing skid by beating up on the Tigers (21-28), something that the team has made an enjoyable habit out of over the last couple of years. Now 5-2 against the Tigers in 2020, the Indians have three more left to play against their rebuilding divisional foe over the weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It feels fitting that Major League Baseball honors one of the legends of the game on Friday given the current unrest plaguing the country.
Jackie Robinson Day, typically recognized on April 15 of each season, did not get its due this year as baseball was on the bench due to the coronavirus. Now with play well under way and half of the season already in the books, MLB will take pause to honor the first African American to reach the big league level back in 1947. As is done every year, the number 42 will come out of league-wide retirement as all players will don the digits on Friday.
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.