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.
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.