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.
Seven games. Seven days. And just like that, the 2020 regular season will be over and the 2020 Major League Baseball playoff bracket madness will begin.
The Indians (29-24) have not punched their ticket to the postseason, but barring something horrific happening over the next week, it is almost a foregone conclusion. That said, it may seem highly unlikely given the way that the last few weeks have gone, but the Indians still could catch the White Sox (34-19) in the American League Central, although that has hardly been a topic of conversation over much of September given the inconsistent play of the Clevelanders. The Indians, after taking three of four from the Tigers in Detroit over the weekend, enter the four-game weekday set with the White Sox trailing by five games. While that task may be too steep a hill to climb in a week, the Indians could still catch up with the second place Minnesota Twins, which holds a three-game lead over the Tribe with five games left on its schedule.
The Indians come into the series with a magic number of two to ensure a playoff spot, with that number reduced at present by any combination of Cleveland victories and Seattle defeats.
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.
Zach Plesac got back on track on Friday night, shutting down Detroit for seven and two-thirds innings while making some baseball history, and the Cleveland bullpen secured the final four outs with a couple of scares along the way as the Indians blanked the Tigers in a 1-0 contest.
Plesac’s case for the number two starter in the Tribe’s potential playoff rotation was strengthened with an impressive effort all around in the second of four games from Detroit’s Comerica Park this weekend. He made a season-high 112 pitches, throwing 76 for strikes with 21 swings and misses throughout the evening. That helped him to amass eleven strikeouts of Tigers hitters, matching his career-best established in his first start of the season against the Chicago White Sox on July 29. He walked one batter and allowed just five hits while keeping the Tigers in check all night. It marked Plesac’s seventh straight start this season of six innings or more and his fifth start overall allowing one run or less in a day’s work.
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.
“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.
The Milwaukee Brewers scored six runs off of the Cleveland bullpen in the seventh and eighth innings to rout the Indians by a 7-1 final from Progressive Field on Friday night.
The Indians got another good start from Carlos Carrasco, but were unable to do much of anything against Brewers starter Corbin Burnes and two Milwaukee relievers as the Tribe offense was shut down in a familiar display in the series opener from Cleveland on Friday. The Indians offense mustered just four hits and a pair of walks, while the bullpen was tagged for six runs in relief of a quality start from Carrasco.
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 have been the epitome of inconsistency this season. This weekend was a prime example of that as the Tribe dropped two of three to the Detroit Tigers in matchups that were on paper favorable for the second seeded club in the American League Central.
The Tigers, who were 9-14 entering the series, came into Cleveland in bad shape and left with a confidence boost after putting up 23 runs against the Indians’ vaunted pitching staff to bring an end to a 20-game losing streak against the Tribe coming into the weekend. Now, the Indians will have to contend with the first place Minnesota Twins over the next three days.
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.
Cleveland tied the game with a big two-out two-bagger from Franmil Reyes in the eighth, then plated a pair in the tenth and held on through a weather-delayed home half to squeeze out a 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday Night Baseball.
With all eyes in the baseball world affixed on Chicago, the White Sox hosted the Indians for the third and final time this season in a key rubber match between the AL Central rivals. A back-and-forth game pitted a pair of staff aces against one another, but the final score was decided by both teams’ bullpens.
So much for that excitement about the Cleveland offense’s triumphant return. The Indians were blanked on just four hits as the Chicago White Sox claimed a 2-0 win in the series opener from Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday night.
The White Sox didn’t win the game as much as the Indians lost it. With a small village of base runners throughout the game courtesy of eight walks and a hit batter, the Tribe managed just four hits and could not buy a hit with runners in scoring position, instead grounding into two double plays on the night and wasting seven quality innings of one-run ball from Aaron Civale.