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.
Hard to believe, the Indians are starting their penultimate homestand of the season as Cleveland plays host to the visiting Milwaukee Brewers for the next three days at Progressive Field.
The Indians (23-14) had a productive road trip in Missouri, taking four of six from the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals to stay right in the mix atop the American League Central. Entering play on Friday ahead of the Chicago White Sox by a half game, the Tribe appears to have the playoffs in their sights at the end of the month, but now will look to improve their lot in the postseason brackets in the expanded tournament scheduled for this season due to the global pandemic.
Tyler Naquin had a game to remember on Wednesday, putting the Indians on the board with a two-run homer in the second before erasing all doubt with a three-run blast in the ninth to back Cleveland to a 5-0 shutout of the Royals from Kansas City.
Not to be lost in the shuffle, but the Indians got a quick and quiet six innings of scoreless baseball from Triston McKenzie, who looked much more like the pitcher from his big league debut against the Detroit Tigers than the one that opened the road trip with four tougher innings of work against the St. Louis Cardinals in his second start. McKenzie allowed just three base runners on a pair of singles and a double and protected the early lead provided to him by Naquin.
Zach Plesac pitched six quality innings in his return to the Cleveland rotation and Franmil Reyes recorded hits in all five of his at bats as the Indians routed the Kansas City Royals by a 10-1 final on Tuesday night.
One night after losing via eighth inning bullpen collapse, the Indians eliminated any doubt early by chasing Royals starter Matt Harvey after retiring just four batters. The Indians put up five runs in the first two innings, using three long balls to do that damage, then matched that production later in the contest on the way to posting 17 hits in an offensive onslaught.
It was a busy day for the Cleveland Indians front office ahead of a three-game weekend series with the Kansas City Royals from the western edge of Missouri.
The Indians (21-13) showed some really good things and some really discouraging things all in one trip to Busch Stadium over the weekend. After shelling the St. Louis Cardinals 14-2 in the series opener on Friday night, the club eked out a 2-1 win in their longest game of the season, a 12-inning marathon on Saturday. Sunday, they were dealt a 7-2 decision as Adam Wainwright went the distance for St. Louis.
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.
Triston McKenzie had a historic debut to remember as the 23-year-old right-hander allowed just one run on two hits with ten strikeouts and the Indians offense erupted for six runs over their final three innings at the plate to give Cleveland a 6-1 win on Saturday night from Progressive Field.
It was tough to predict how McKenzie was going to look on the mound for the Indians in the middle game of three against the Tigers. Making his first start in nearly two years after missing the entire 2019 season with a back injury, the young hurler got the call-up for the Indians and lived up to his billing as a top prospect in the Cleveland organization. He limited the Tigers to just two extra bases hits and a walk while striking out ten, putting him in rare company as just the 28th Major League pitcher to reach double digit strikeouts in his first big league appearance.
Carlos Santana’s three-run home run down the left field line in the tenth inning edged the Cleveland Indians past the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-3, on Tuesday night.
Santana has had a flare for the dramatic at times throughout his career and Tuesday night was again one of those nights. Struggling at the plate for the majority of the season to date, Santana stepped to the plate against left-hander Sam Howard. Cesar Hernandez, who struck out to end the ninth, was the designated runner at second base. Jose Ramirez opened the inning with an eight-pitch battle with Howard, fouling off three straight pitches before striking out swinging. Francisco Lindor was plunked to put two on for Santana, who took a first pitch ball low before catching a fastball in on the hands. He whipped the bat around and yanked the ball high and deep down the left field line while falling off balance in the batter’s box. With Chief Wahoo peeking out from the top of his unbuttoned jersey top, Santana stopped on his jog towards first, leaned as if trying to move the ball with his body, and briefly took a step back towards home plate before the home run call went up, beginning his slow trot around the bases to cap his three-run blast.
The series finale from Comerica Park between the Indians and Tigers on Sunday was hardly a clinic in pitching, but the game did provide plenty of fireworks on and off the field as Cleveland used five homers to push past Detroit, 8-5.
Cleveland (13-9) used a well-timed power display to pick up starter Adam Plutko while the bullpen allowed just two runs over six and one-third innings of needed relief. It was more of the same from the Tigers (9-10), which are still looking for answers to solve the riddle that has become the Indians lineup and pitching staff. Their fifth straight loss extended their losing streak against the Indians to 20 consecutive games, dating back to last April.
A moving strike zone is hard to combat when you are already struggling with your own control on the mound. Carlos Carrasco fought through command issues on Wednesday, while the combination of a rough performance from the Cleveland bullpen and another lackluster showing from the Indians bats against Kyle Hendricks and three Chicago relievers helped push the Cubs to a 7-2 win at Progressive Field.
The Indians matched the Cubs in the hit department, but nine free passes by Cleveland pitching helped increase base traffic and opportunities for the opposing Chicago club, already one of the top offense in the game today without extra help. Neither team was all that impressive with runners in scoring position, but the Cubs came through when it counted with several big hits, including a pair of homers from the big boppers at the top of their lineup. The Indians squandered scoring chances throughout the night, doing little to help their cause.
In the end, it marked another game where the Indians faltered against a top-tier opponent.