The Cleveland Indians have already brought home some hardware this offseason, but two of the biggest remaining awards left to be acknowledged for play this past season are coming up this week.
With Major League Baseball set to announce four sets of awards this week, the Indians have a pair of big nominees in the running for two of baseball’s top honors. While the team does not have any representatives in the running for the Rookie of the Year and the Manager of the Year awards, pitcher Shane Bieber is the frontrunner for the American League’s Cy Young Award and third baseman Jose Ramirez is confirmed to be one of the top three finishers in the AL’s Most Valuable Player contest.
The offseason award tour has been fruitful for the Indians thus far.
Well ahead of Sunday’s deadline, the Cleveland Indians announced four roster decisions pertaining to team options on Friday.
Catcher Roberto Perez will return to the Tribe in 2021, as his option was picked up by the team. Similar pacts with first baseman Carlos Santana, outfielder Domingo Santana, and closer Brad Hand were declined, making the three veterans free agents.
Even with the shortened 60-game regular season and a brief two-game playoff stint, I needed a break from coverage of the Cleveland Indians (also, some grueling hours at the job that pays the bills over the last couple of weeks made time for writing minimal). An underwhelming offseason the winter before, mixed results during the 2020 campaign, and an abysmal showing in the expanded playoff format a few weeks ago piled on to make it tough to put my thoughts into appropriate family-friendly terms. The step away helped to give me some prerogative on what transpired over the course of the last couple of months, but does not give me a lot of happy vibes about what is in store for the Indians’ organization in the months and years ahead.
Obviously, the 2020 season didn’t go as planned for anybody. Spring Training ramped up in February and was near its conclusion in March when the coronavirus began to truly run rampant across the United States, slamming the door on nearly all non-essential activities. After an uncomfortable amount of bickering as to the length of a shortened schedule shined an unpleasant light on future labor negotiations in the not-so-distant future between players and ownership, baseball returned for Spring Training 2.0. The shortened 60-game slate of games was pulled off, with only a handful of glitches in particular hot spots across the MLB landscape. Playoff bubbles were implemented to help conclude play and, shockingly to some, the World Series started Tuesday from Arlington, Texas, where the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers began the final leg of their championship pursuits, one which may come with an asterisk next to it in the annals of baseball history.
As for the Indians, this season is another “what if” story in the 120-year history of American League play on the shores of Lake Erie.
Burn on, big river, burn on.
In what will likely be his final inning in an Indians uniform, Brad Hand blew his first save of the season and handed the Yankees a pair of runs in the top of the ninth as New York rallied in a messy, ugly, crazy game to defeat Cleveland, 10-9.
The city of Cleveland got 75 minutes of October baseball and was dealt a devastating first round exit for the third time in four years as the Indians could not hold off the pesky New York baseball team, which got healthy just in time to spoil any hopes for the Indians to end a 72-year championship drought in the realm of Major League Baseball.
Where, oh where, have the Cleveland Indians gone?
I’ll tell you where. To the very bottom of the American League playoff bracket. Oh, and by the way, things won’t get any easier for the Tribe this week when they face off with National League Cy Young candidate Yu Darvish on Tuesday and tough left-hander Jon Lester on Wednesday in a pair of games against one of the leading squads in the Senior Circuit in the Chicago Cubs.
It’s been a bad week for the Tribe, without a doubt. Defense faltered early in the week, the offense sputtered (but this isn’t necessarily a new thing this season), and the pitching staff made the weekend set with Minnesota look more like a special Twins edition of Home Run Derby. They did their part to waken the “Bomba Squad”.
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’ depth behind the plate will be tested this season as starting catcher Roberto Perez was placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday with a right shoulder strain.
Perez had experienced discomfort with the shoulder since making an impressive play during the Indians’ season opening game against the Kansas City Royals, when he tracked down a third strike wild pitch, slipped, and completed the throw to first from the seat of his pants. Perez jammed his shoulder on the play and felt some tightness but tried to push through it in the days that followed. It continued to persist, leading the Indians to select the contract of backstop Beau Taylor from the team’s minor league camp in Eastlake on Tuesday, less than a day before placing Perez on the IL.
He will be shut down from throwing for a week before he is re-evaluated, but he will continue to work out with the other players on the 60-man roster at the team’s Alternate Training Site in Eastlake.
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 – 55 days
The pressure was on Roberto Perez for the 2019 season when the team traded mainstay and All-Star backstop Yan Gomes in November of 2018. To the credit of the Cleveland Indians’ front office, Perez lived up to all expectations and showed himself as a worthy full-time catcher at the Major League level.
The Indians got a quality start from Mike Clevinger and plenty of run support from the middle of the Cleveland lineup on Thursday in their sixth shutout of the season over the Detroit Tigers, 7-0.
For the 12th time this season, the Indians plated a half dozen runs or more against the Tigers in an unbelievable stretch of dominance over the cellar dwellers in the American League Central. Cleveland tallied an 18-1 record in their season series with Detroit, including wins in each of the last 17 games between the two clubs. The Indians (90-63) kept pace with the victorious Minnesota Twins to remain four games back in the division with nine to play, but more importantly, they pulled into a tie with the idle Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
Roberto Perez’s three-run blast in a four-run sixth put the Cleveland Indians up for good as they defeated the Minnesota Twins, 7-5, on Sunday afternoon.
In the biggest series of the season, the Indians salvaged their final regular season game against the Twins to claim the season series against Minnesota, 10-9. Needing a sweep over the weekend, Cleveland was only able to earn a win in the finale, coming back from a 4-2 deficit to hold off the top club in the American League Central.
Facing a slew of arms out of the Minnesota bullpen, Cleveland could do nothing as the Twins used a third inning two-run home run by Jorge Polanco to claim a 2-0 win over the Indians in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader from Progressive Field.
In as must-win of a scenario as the Indians have faced this season, the offense came out flat and could not get anything of substance going against the suspect Twins bullpen as the club had to rely on its relief staff in game one on Saturday after Friday’s series opener between the two teams was washed out by heavy rains. The Twins had a tough time doing much against Mike Clevinger over eight solid innings from the right-hander, but it took just two quick hits to change the outcome of the game, and possibly the season, for the Tribe.