Sometimes the biggest spotlight brings out the best in people. That is exactly the case for Matt Carson, who has hit in seven of nine at bats this season as a Cleveland Indian and was able to get the biggest hit of his career in this game, a walk off single in the bottom of the eleventh inning to give the Indians a 2-1 victory over the Astros.
The game started off with the Indians looking solid both pitching and swinging the bats in the first inning. Ubaldo Jimenez started the game off with a one-two-three top of the first inning, including two strikeouts. The Indians were able to get on the board thanks to a one out double from Nick Swisher followed up by a single from Jason Kipnis.
The Indians and Royals resumed their respective late season playoff pushes on Tuesday night in game 2 of a three game series. With two of the best pitching staffs in the American League squaring the game shaped up to be just that a battle of the arms but the Indians managed to come up big when it counted and win 5-3.
A strong but short start from Danny Salazar and the work of seven different relievers helped to make Cleveland’s three runs stand, as the Indians defeated the Chicago White Sox by a 3-1 final on a rare Friday afternoon start.
The Indians bullpen picked up the slack of the abbreviated Salazar start, who was limited by the same strict pitch count that has shortened his outings throughout the second half.
With Friday’s tenth straight win against the White Sox, the Indians move into a tie with the New York Yankees in the pursuit of an American League Wild Card birth. Both Cleveland and New York are one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second spot, with the Yankees and Rays both playing later in the day on Friday.
The Indians continued their postseason chase as they opened a three-game home series against the Kansas City Royals on Monday night, as Ubaldo Jimenez threw an impressive game and three solo home runs boosted the Tribe offense as they defeated the Royals with a score of 4-3.
As the season comes to a close, games not only decide playoff potential but also demonstrate players who will be the future of the team next season and beyond. Despite not having played third base until this season, youngster Jose Ramirez got his first Major League start at third base for the Indians, as well as his first Major League hit, proving that he is going to be a valuable player in seasons to come as he continues to grow as a player. Yan Gomes, who has come into his own as a regular catcher as of late, also contributed to the score with one of the solo home runs in the fifth inning and a solid catching performance.
With their playoff destiny very much in their own hands, the Cleveland Indians kept pace in the American League Wild Card race by claiming their series with the New York Mets.
The Indians (76-66) won their final interleague series of the season over the weekend, twice defeating the Mets before dropping Sunday’s finale. Cleveland is five and a half games in back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, but is only two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot in the AL. While they cannot control what the teams in front of them do in the race between now and the end of the regular season, they can take care of their own business and hope for the best.
The Royals (75-68) come to Cleveland right on the Indians’ tail in the division, just one and a half games behind the Tribe. Their trip to Cleveland will mark their final three games at Progressive Field this season. Kansas City plays 13 of its final 19 games on the road, with the exception of three games with the Indians and three with the Texas Rangers next week.
It is common knowledge that the Indians have one of the easiest September schedules of any of the American League playoff contenders so this rubber match between the Mets and Indians was important. Unfortunately, the Tribe could not capitalize when the time called for it and the Mets were able to scrounge together enough hits to knock off the Indians 2-1.
Any time that the Indians have been good over the past 20 years, they have had an outstanding bullpen. The 2007 crew that finished a game shy of the World Series featured a 45 save Joe Borowski and the best Rafael duo in baseball history. The 93 win 2005 group had another 45 save man, Bob Wickman, as well as Bob Howry, Rafael Betancourt and Arthur Rhodes firing with ERA’s under 3.00. On the division champion ’01 squad, Wickman was joined by Paul Shuey, Ricardo Rincon, Danys Baez, David Riske and Steve Karsay. Of course, the juggernaut teams of the 1990’s also trotted out big time relievers like Jose Mesa, Paul Assenmacher, Mike Jackson, Eric Plunk and Julian Tavarez. A good Tribe team seems to need a good ‘pen.
Coming into 2013, the bullpen promised to be not only a strength, but perhaps the backbone of the roster. They boasted star, young players as well a collective cool nickname that showed camaraderie as well as confidence. It seemed early in the 2013 season, however, that the ‘Bullpen Mafia’ was dissolved. The Family was neither cohesive nor effective and the members were not living up to their high expectations.
There seems to be some sort of family reunion of late.
Without getting into another attendance-related debate that will make most readers want to puke, it is important to note that the Cleveland Indians are still in the middle of a playoff race.
The Indians (74-65) took two of three in a key series with the Baltimore Orioles at the beginning of the week to do damage against some of their chief competition for one of the two American League Wild Card spots available.
Cleveland trails the second Wild Card team, the Tampa Bay Rays, by three games. They are tied with the Orioles in that spot and trail the New York Yankees by one-half game. The final stretch of the season for the Indians is perceived to be easier than those of their opponents. The Orioles play the Yankees and Rays four times each and the Red Sox for six. The Yankees play six with Boston, four with Baltimore, and three with Tampa. The Rays, by comparison, play three games with Boston and New York and four with Texas and Baltimore.
In a pivotal game that ended up catapulting the Indians up a spot in the Wild Card standings, the Tribe used a new feathered friend to stay loose and to bring them some luck as they defeated the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 6-4.
During the Indians pregame batting practice, pitcher Justin Masterson brought a live chicken out onto the field and gave it as a gift to reliever Cody Allen, whose nickname amongst his teammates is ‘Chicken Al’. The chicken, now named Cody, hung around on the centerfield warning track during BP and brought the team enough good fortune to have them leapfrog the O’s and push the Tribe 0.5 games ahead of the Birds in the Wild Card standings. The Indians now trail only the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees for the American League’s lowest spot in the playoffs.
The Indians were in the middle of a slump going into Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles losing six out of their last seven games. The Tribe however was able to buck that trend and win on Tuesday with great starting pitching, solid bullpen relief and most importantly some timely hitting. The final result was a 4-3 victory for the Indians.
The first inning saw both teams have one base runner but neither was able to drive them in. Baltimore was able to get Manny Machado to reach first on an error by Lonnie Chisenhall before Yan Gomes threw a perfect ball to second base to catch him stealing. The Indians had Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher both set down on ground balls before Jason Kipnis hit a double, followed by a Carlos Santana pop up.
Mike Aviles broke open a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth inning with a grand slam to left and the Cleveland Indians held on to shut out the Detroit Tigers by a 4-0 final on Sunday afternoon.
For two teams who have had suspect bullpens throughout the course of the season, the ending seemed fitting after an impressively pitched game between an emerging star and a grizzled veteran.
Hopes for October are on the line for the Cleveland Indians this week as they head to Atlanta for the start of a difficult six-game road trip, beginning with three games with the Braves.
Atlanta (78-52) has come back down to earth over the last couple of weeks after ripping off 14 straight wins beginning in the final week of July. They have endured several injuries to key players on the roster, including pitcher Tim Hudson, second baseman Dan Uggla, and outfielder Jason Heyward. Despite the injuries, their playoff birth out of the National League East is all but assured, as they host the Indians with a 13-game lead over the second-place Washington Nationals. They own the best home record in all of baseball at 44-18.
Cleveland (71-59) remains in the mix in both the American League Wild Card and the AL Central races. When the series begins Tuesday evening, the Indians will be two games in back of the Athletics in the wild card and five and a half games behind the Tigers in the division.