The Indians scored ten runs – yes, you read that right – in the seventh inning with a 3-0 lead to back Carlos Carrasco and the Cleveland bullpen in a 13-0 three-hit shutout over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.
Questions have plagued the Indians offense throughout the season, but the lineup erupted in a cathartic seventh inning in systematically tearing apart the Reds’ bullpen. Carrasco gave the Tribe his third straight quality start and limited the Cincinnati lineup to just one hit over six shutout innings of work and the Cleveland bullpen extended the team’s scoreless body of work against the Reds bats to 23 consecutive innings, dating back to the fourth inning on Tuesday.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before – the Cleveland Indians got a quality start, little run support, and fell in a 3-2 final to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
If that gave you a bit of déjà vu here in the 2020 Major League Baseball season, you’re not alone. There were, however, a few differences in the tale of the tape this time around – the opponent was different, the game was delayed two hours and two minutes at the outset by rain, and for the first time this season, the Indians blew a lead in order to find themselves on the short end of the stick.
Cleveland, we have a problem.
Ten games in the books and suddenly the Indians’ hot start, highlighted by near historic levels of pitching dominance, has been fully erased from the collective conscience. The Indians are 5-5, sitting in a third place tie in the American League Central and two and a half games out with 50 left to play.
It need not be a doom-and-gloom scenario yet, but this season is unlike any other. One-sixth of the season, or roughly 17%, is over. For you weird people constantly multiplying things out by 2.7 to put things in comparison to a traditional 162-game slate, the Indians are sitting at a 13.5-13.5 record through the equivalent 27th game of a full season schedule.
That’s certainly not where the team should be with the way that the pitching staff has excelled to open the season.
Quality starting pitching can only get a team so far and the Cleveland Indians are a prime example of that right now. Despite holding the league’s top scoring team to just ten runs over the weekend, the Tribe took a third straight loss on Sunday as the Tribe bats mustered just two hits off of Minnesota relievers in a bullpen game for manager Rocco Baldelli, falling in a 3-1 final from Target Field.
With scheduled starter Homer Bailey scratched from his start and placed on the injured list (retroactive to June 29) with right biceps tendinitis, Baldelli opted to go for a series win over the Indians with a bullpen day. The move paid off as the Indians woes at the plate continued with an abysmal performance in a key early series in the shortened 60-game slate.
Few expected the Cleveland offense to be the bright spot of the 2020 season with a loaded pitching staff, but the Indians’ woes at the plate continued to drag the team down on Saturday night as the Tribe mustered just two infield singles in a 3-0 shutout against the victorious Minnesota Twins.
It was more of the same from Shane Bieber on Thursday night as he fired off eight shutout innings while racking up 13 more strikeouts and James Karinchak pitched a perfect ninth for his first Major League save as the Cleveland Indians took game one from the Minnesota Twins, 2-0.
In his first start since setting a new Indians franchise record with 14 strikeouts in a season opener, Bieber was right back at it as Cleveland opened its series at Target Field with a strong message for the reigning American League Central champs. He faced little resistance throughout the night in a dominating performance, having one actual challenging inning to contend with while beginning his season with numbers seen just one other time in the Live Ball era. The Tribe offense was not able to do much against Minnesota starter Jose Berrios and the Twins bullpen, but Bieber and Karinchak made the two runs provided stand up.
Every game feels all the more important in a 60-game schedule, which means this week’s four-game series between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins could have a significant effect on how the American League Central Division plays out in 2020.
The Indians (4-2) are off to a hot start, led by incredible starting pitching performances from six different starters. The team could very well be sitting at a 6-0 record, but a late loss in extra innings in the second game of the season against the Kansas City Royals and a tough defeat on Wednesday night when the Chicago White Sox tagged Brad Hand for four runs in the ninth have left the Indians a half game out of first place, trailing only the Twins.
Early scoring and strong starting pitching provided the keys to the game again for the Cleveland Indians as they completed a doubleheader sweep of the Chicago White Sox with a 5-3 win in the nightcap on Tuesday night.
Adam Plutko stepped in with a spot start for manager Terry Francona after Monday’s rainout and did everything that could have been asked of him. He limited the White Sox to just a pair of runs over six innings, while his offense provided a big jolt right out of the gate.
Francisco Lindor paced the Indians to an early lead in support of a quality start from Aaron Civale, and the Cleveland bullpen worked out of several jams to secure a 4-3 win in game one of Tuesday’s twinbill from Progressive Field.
Civale, beginning the season on the Indians roster for the first time in his career, worked around a one-out infield single by Yoan Moncada, striking out a pair in the first frame of his 2020 campaign. Facing another second-year right-hander in Dylan Cease, the Indians got to work quickly in the home half after a good at bat from Cesar Hernandez concluded with a single to right. Jose Ramirez worked Cease for seven pitches before flying to center for the first out. Lindor cut and missed on a low changeup for strike one of his at bat, then caught a four-seamer in his nitro zone, sending the pitch well over the wall in right for a two-run blast to put the Indians up early. Carlos Santana followed with an infield single to short before he was stranded there.
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.
Did The Tribe Win Last Night is now back on track with a new day in the countdown to Opening Day. Follow along as we count down the days until the Indians kick off play in the pandemic-shortened 2020 schedule on July 24. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 12 days
The clock is ticking on Francisco Lindor, and the Cleveland Indians’ relationship with him likely got significantly shorter due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Last season, the Indians lost time with Lindor too, but thankfully the right calf strain suffered as spring training was about to get underway only kept him out of action for a few weeks. This year, it has been an entirely different story, as the Tribe will lose 100 games of control of Lindor as the result of a drastically shortened season slate limited to just 60 games due to the widespread issues caused by the COVID-19 crisis.