Baseball takes little time off in between seasons, so neither can we. Follow along at Did the Tribe Win Last Night as we count down to March 26, when the Cleveland Indians host the Detroit Tigers for game one of the 2020 season. – BT
Countdown to Opening Day – 27 days
The Indians essentially swapped backup catchers with the Boston Red Sox in the offseason.
Kevin Plawecki, a former late first round pick by the New York Mets who wore the number 27 for the Indians in his one season in town in 2019, filled the void behind the plate created when Cleveland traded Yan Gomes to Washington. The Indians added the longtime Met in a trade on January 6, 2019, dealing minor leaguer Sam Haggerty and reliever Walker Lockett for him.
Ahead of Monday’s deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players, the Cleveland Indians made some moves.
Early in the day, word broke that the Indians acquired backup backstop Sandy Leon from the Boston Red Sox for 21-year-old minor league pitcher Adenys Bautista, who spent last season in the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Rookie League. Leon was expected to be non-tendered by the Red Sox. The move may have been curious earlier in the day, as Leon joined three other catchers on the team’s 40-man roster, but that issued cleared itself up as the day progressed. The Tribe announced ahead of the 8 PM arbitration deadline that reliever James Hoyt and catcher Kevin Plawecki were not going to be tendered contracts, making the pair free agents.
After the handful of transactions Monday, the Indians’ 40-man roster sits at 39.
Seven Cleveland pitchers combined to hold off Los Angeles, 4-3, on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep in Anaheim and a six-game season sweep of the Angels by the Indians.
A homer in the first and three runs in the second backed Tribe pitching on Wednesday, as starter Adam Plutko and six relievers behind him held off the Halos as the Indians pulled back within four games of the first place Minnesota Twins in the American League Central and stayed a half game in back of Oakland for the second AL Wild Card spot. The combined efforts allowed Cleveland (86-61) to gain ground in the division, while the Angels fell to 67-80 with their fourth straight loss.
Sometimes, the worst thing for a team is to face a pitcher after an abysmal start. That was the case for the Cleveland Indians on Thursday afternoon as Chicago’s Reynaldo Lopez bounced back from a career-worst performance with a complete game one-hitter in a 7-1 White Sox win over the Tribe.
After holding on by the skin of their teeth on Wednesday, momentum failed to carry over for the Indians on Thursday as Lopez shut down the Tribe for nine innings to win his ninth game of the season. Coming off of a two-thirds of an inning performance against the Atlanta Braves in his last start on August 31, Lopez looked like a completely different pitcher as he allowed just one run on one hit with three walks and eleven strikeouts while facing just four batters over the minimum. His offense gave him a pair of early runs in the second, then broke the game open for good in a three-run sixth against Cleveland starter Zach Plesac.
Cleveland rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth, including a three-run blast from Franmil Reyes for his second homer of the afternoon, to tie the game at eight, but Kansas City’s Ryan O’Hearn matched his feat with his second deep drive of the day as the Royals edged the Indians by a 9-8 final in ten innings on Sunday afternoon.
In the series final between the two clubs, the Indians fought back constantly throughout the day after falling in an early 3-0 hole after three innings, but they simply ran out of time and outs as the Royals held on after scoring their sixth run off of the Indians bullpen in the top of the tenth, moments after the Cleveland matched KC’s run total at eight with a four-run frame.
A six-run outburst by the Indians in the seventh inning proved to be enough as Cleveland completed a three-game sweep over the Kansas City Royals in an 8-4 final on Thursday.
The Indians (48-38) moved to a season-high ten games above even and cut their deficit in the American League Central Division down to six games, coupled with a Minnesota loss in Oakland for the second time in three days. The Indians’ bullpen picked up for rookie righty Zach Plesac when he was unable to make it through the third inning and stopped the bleeding, holding the Royals to just a run on four hits over the final six and one-third innings.
The Cleveland Indians bullpen had to work extra on Friday and eventually just ran out of luck. Brad Hand, the team’s eighth different pitcher on the night, threw just six pitches and was taken deep to start the bottom of the 12th inning by Oakland’s Matt Chapman as the A’s defeated the Indians with a 4-3 walk-off celebration.
In a game that could have detrimental effects on the Indians over the course of their five-game road trip to Oakland and Chicago, Cleveland responded twice to Oakland scoring efforts, with the final time coming in the top of the seventh to tie the game. Cody Anderson burned through 68 pitches in just three innings of work, forcing the bullpen to send seven different relievers to the mound to work eight-plus innings. The A’s got a quality effort from right-hander Frankie Montas, while the final three Oakland relievers fired five perfect innings of shutout baseball while striking out five.
A first inning grand slam by former Indian Jay Bruce highlighted a ten-run shellacking by Seattle in Cleveland on Sunday as the Mariners routed the Tribe in a 10-0 two-hit shutout.
For the first time in 13 tries this season, the Mariners (19-17) defeated a team with a winning record and salvaged the season series against the Indians (18-14) by avoiding a second sweep against Cleveland in the final game between the two clubs this year. The win ended their six-game losing streak.
The Cleveland Indians addressed a roster concern on Sunday afternoon, acquiring catcher Kevin Plawecki from the New York Mets for right-handed pitcher Walker Lockett and minor league utility man Sam Haggerty.
The Indians’ catching position moved from one of depth to an area of concern in a span of less than six months as the team used backstops to address organizational issues. Top prospect Francisco Mejia was traded to the San Diego Padres on July 31 for two relievers – All-Star closer Brad Hand and submariner Adam Cimber. On November 30, the team purged salary by moving 2018 All-Star catcher Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals for reliever Jefry Rodriguez and minor leaguers Daniel Johnson and Andruw Monasterio.