With each passing day, the 2014 Major League Baseball regular season gets closer and closer to its end. Despite a disappointing season on many levels, the Cleveland Indians find themselves still in the mix for a potential playoff berth for a second season in a row. As the club heads to Detroit to face the second-place Tigers in a pivotal three-game series, they must find a way to leave town with a series win, if not a sweep altogether.
The Indians (76-69) kept pace within the division with their approach of winning series. After a disappointing 4-3 loss on Tuesday, capped by four straight fourth inning hits by the Twins, Cleveland and Minnesota were rained out on Wednesday. In a traditional doubleheader on Thursday afternoon, Corey Kluber continued his Cy Young pursuit and won his 15th game of the season in an 8-2 trouncing in game one. T.J. House was equally as dominant again on the mound and Carlos Santana’s two RBI lead the way to a 2-0 Indians win.
Cleveland comes into this key series four games in back of Kansas City in the AL Central and three and a half games behind Detroit for second place in the division and for the second AL Wild Card spot. They have won nine series since the beginning of August, split a pair of two gamers, and lost just two (two gamer in Cincinnati, four game set with Detroit in Cleveland), not including the Monday makeup game loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The team is 24-14 (.632) in this stretch.
So close, yet so far away.
After an immense boost to the morale around the club over the weekend in a statement series in Kansas City against the Royals, the Cleveland Indians came home to host the Detroit Tigers for four games. Three devastating losses later, the team will need to rebound against the Chicago White Sox or risk falling completely out of the playoff picture.
The Indians (71-67) erased all of the ground they gained over last weekend as the Tigers handled the Tribe in troubling fashion during the week. Detroit’s bats erupted against Cleveland’s ace on Monday in a 12-1 win. Cody Allen surrendered a three-run home run in the top of the ninth to blow the save and the win in a 4-2 loss on Tuesday night. The Indians offense backed a complete-game eight-hit shutout by Danny Salazar on Wednesday in a 7-0 victory. Cleveland fought back to tie the game after a four-run first inning deficit, only to allow seven runs in the eleventh inning in a 11-4 loss in the series finale on Thursday night.
Cleveland is now six games in back of the AL Central leading Royals and five games out in the AL Wild Card race.
August has been kind to the Cleveland Indians. With three days left in the month, they will need that trend to continue. The team will wrap up their best month of the season so far with three games at Kauffman Stadium against the American League Central leading Kansas City Royals with an opportunity to erase some significant distance in the standings
The Indians (68-64) won their fourth consecutive series and have now won five of their last six, failing only to split a two-game set with Arizona during that span. In three closely contested games in Chicago, they took two of three from the White Sox, a team that had won six of their first seven games against the Indians at U.S. Cellular Field this season. In ten innings on Tuesday, a two-run home run from Zach Walters lifted Cleveland to an 8-6 victory. With staff ace Corey Kluber on the mound on Wednesday, the Indians dropped a 3-2 final. They bounced back for the series win on Thursday, holding on to support another dominant outing from Carlos Carrasco and a four-out, four strikeout save from Cody Allen in a 3-2 win.
After a 5-2 road trip through Chicago and Kansas City, the Cleveland Indians return home for their final homestand of the season, beginning Thursday with a four-game set with the Houston Astros.
This week, the Astros (51-101) successfully completed their third consecutive 100-loss season when they were swept at home by the Cincinnati Reds. They will play their first series in Cleveland this weekend since joining the American League West. They will finish out their season with three games in Texas against the Rangers and in the Big Apple with three against the New York Yankees.
The Indians (82-70) remain a half game in back of the American League Wild Card race after dropping two of three to the Kansas City Royals during the week. Cleveland will play ten more games on the season – all against teams with records below the .500 mark. They will finish up their home schedule with two more games against Chicago before moving on to Minnesota for four to end the season against the Twins.
For a while, it looked as though the Lake County Captains had fallen into a rut. The young team was losing more games than they were winning, giving up leads in late innings and producing plays marred by numerous errors. Fans weren’t the only ones discouraged by the games, however – Captains’ players noticed the slump just as vividly.
“I know we had been struggling and it seemed like we couldn’t win any games,” left fielder Logan Vick said of his team’s performance throughout the month of April. “We were giving up leads and just not putting hits together to get big wins.”
The absence of big wins, however, changed on Monday night, April 29, at Classic Park, where Vick played a vital role in reversing the Captains’ string of losses. The Captains won both of their games during a double header with the Kane County Cougars, restoring faith in both fans and players alike.
The Chicago White Sox continue their ten-game home stand as they welcome the Cleveland Indians into town for a three-game series.
The Indians are on a lengthy road trip of their own, as they are in the middle series of three straight road pairings. Cleveland’s bats woke up in the middle game against the Houston Astros over the weekend, ending a five game losing skid that saw the offense score just eleven runs.
Chicago has won just three of their last ten games and is in the midst of a three game losing streak of their own. They are 4-4 at home on the season but have dropped two straight games at U.S. Cellular Field.
By Mike Brandyberry
All good things come to an end, and whatever this is too.
Tonight, the Indians officially conclude their season that unfortunately ended a long time ago. After contending for 99 games, the Tribe fell a part in the final 63 and quickly eliminated themselves from the American League Central Division race in August. On July 26 the Indians were just 3.5 games in back of first place, but 11-game and nine game losing streaks buried the team by August 24.
The drop in the standings eventually cost Manager Manny Acta his job last week. The skipper for the last three seasons was informed last Thursday he would not be retained for the 2013 season. Yesterday, Indians closer Chris Perez spoke candidly about Acta and felt his laid back attitude did not work with a youthful clubhouse and a more hands-on manager could make a difference.
“August wasn’t baseball, it was pathetic — in all aspects,” Perez said. “I’m not saying that a change earlier would have done anything, but sometimes we pressed the panic button. Why? A lot of things left you kind of scratching your head.”
By Mike Brandyberry
The Chicago White Sox did everything they could Monday evening to remain in the American League Central Division race, but their efforts were too little, too late. Chicago trounced the Tribe 11-0 behind seven strong innings from Hector Santiago.
Santiago allowed only one hit over seven innings and struck out ten Indians, while Corey Kluber allowed four runs in the sixth and suffered his fifth loss on the season. The win for the White Sox was not enough, however. Detroit’s 6-3 win in Kansas City last night clinched the division and eliminated the White Sox from any chance at postseason play.
By Mike Brandyberry
What comes around, goes around.
Seven years ago the Chicago White Sox strode into Cleveland for the final three games of the season with the Tribe looking for a victory to clinch a playoff spot. The White Sox swept the Tribe, advanced to the playoffs and eventually won the World Series. Cleveland, the hottest team in the second half of 2005, was sent home packing just one win short of post season.
While the situation is not exactly the same, the Tribe will not be advancing to the playoffs, they do have the chance to keep Chicago home from postseason play. The Detroit Tigers own a three game lead over the White Sox in the American League Central Division. Any win by Detroit, or loss by Chicago, will result in the Tigers punching their postseason spot.
By Mike Brandyberry
It didn’t have first place, or playoff implications, but Saturday’s game would be one for the Indians’ yearbook. Unfortunately, after battling back from Jeanmar Gomez’s six runs allowed over three innings, the Tribe offense left 20 men on base in their 7-6 loss in 14 innings to the Royals. The Indian bullpen pitched 10 scoreless innings after Gomez left the contest before Scott Maine allowed the game winner in the 14th.
After 14 innings, using nine pitchers and 14 position players and playing until 1 am in the morning, fans can expect a unique lineup today in the series finale. The Indians will be fighting for their second straight series win and Interim Manager Sandy Alomar’s second career managerial win.
By Mike Brandyberry
The win was the first in Interim Manager Sandy Alomar’s career. The Indian great from 1990-2000 took over for Manny Acta when he was fired on Thursday afternoon. Alomar will manage the final six games of the season. Friday’s win was his first in control of the Tribe. General Manager Chris Antonetti said on SportsTime Ohio during the game Friday that they have identified two candidates at this point, Alomar and former Boston Red Sox skipper Terry Francona.
By Mike Brandyberry
Two nights ago, the Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 6-4 in a tightly contested, back and forth game. The Tribe win has helped deal the White Sox what is now a two game deficit in the American League Central Division. However, the Indians playing spoiler has not been the news headlining at Progressive Field.
During the off day on Thursday Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti fired Manager Manny Acta and named Sandy Alomar the Interim Manager for the team’s final six games. Antonetti felt it was fair to relieve Acta of his duties before beginning end of the season exit meetings with coaches and players.
“Unfortunately, our results on the field fell short of our expectations,” Antonetti said. “We made this decision with the idea of getting better moving forward.”