A late rally fell short for the Cleveland Indians on Thursday afternoon as the Detroit Tigers claimed a 3-2 victory in the 2021 Major League Baseball season opener from Comerica Park.
The Tigers dealt Shane Bieber a loss in his first start of the season, something that required ten outings and happened just once during his historic 2020 campaign. On a day with a first pitch temperature of 31 degrees and flurries abound, Detroit jumped out to a first inning lead, padded it in the next frame, and kept the pedestrian Cleveland offense at bay until the final frame of the day.
If there was one award up for grabs this offseason that looked to be a done deal before the results of the voting were tallied, it was the American League’s Cy Young Award. What little suspense remained in the race ended Wednesday night when Cleveland’s Shane Bieber was announced as the unanimous winner of baseball’s top pitching honor.
Bieber earned first place votes on all 30 ballots submitted by the voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Bieber’s historic efforts in 2020 brought the Cy Young Award back to Cleveland for the third time in the last seven years, following Corey Kluber’s wins in 2014 and 2017.
“That’s pretty special,” Bieber shared with the media following another big victory for the third-year right-hander. “I appreciate them for casting their votes for me. It means the world, it really does. I’m just happy.”
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.
November historically marks the start of offseason activities around baseball and this year is no exception, even with the delays and issues created this season by the coronavirus.
The Major League Baseball free agency period kicked off over the weekend, with all teams also needing to come to terms on roster option decisions and qualifying offers for the handful of viable candidates on the new $18.9 million one-year tender. With that out of the way, the league can now look back and recognize its best and brightest during a season devoid of a midseason All-Star nod for those excelling at their craft.
Finalists for Major League Baseball’s four major awards will be announced on Monday night in a live MLB Network broadcast beginning at 6 PM ET. The top three finalists in each league will be announced for the Most Valuable Player Award, the Cy Young Award, the Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year.
The Indians went off-script on Tuesday from what had worked all season long and the results were undebatable as the New York Yankees rocked Cleveland’s Shane Bieber for a season-worst seven runs in rolling the host Tribe in a 12-3 statement game.
Instead of what was hyped as the top pitching matchup of the eight postseason contests slated to start the 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs, fans watched a stunning exchange as the likely unanimous American League Cy Young winner lost his duel with New York’s Gerrit Cole, whose $324 million rebuttal on the mound included 13 strikeouts, six hits allowed, and two runs scattered over seven innings of dominance.
The Cleveland Indians make their return to the postseason this week as the fourth seed in the eight-team format specially implemented for this pandemic-shortened season. The Indians will host the series in Cleveland for the only time allowed in the bracket system, with the rival New York Yankees coming to town for a battle to two wins in the three-game American League Wild Card Series.
The Indians (35-25) used some home field magic over the course of the last week of the regular season, jumping from the seventh seed to the fourth seed on the final day of play with a big come-from-behind victory on Sunday to take two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the heels of a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox. The better results down the stretch earned the team the right to host the first round Wild Card Series from Progressive Field, as opposed to having to travel for road matchups in Chicago, Minnesota, or Oakland that may not have been as favorable for the Tribe.
Shane Bieber’s meteoric rise from pitching prospect just a few years ago to a bona fide Cy Young and Pitching Triple Crown candidate this season has truly been something to watch.
Bursting on the scene with a solid 11-5 showing in 20 games during his rookie season in 2018, Bieber really started to catch some eyes last year. He had a stellar first half, named to his first American League All-Star team as a replacement, then struck out the side in a stunning effort in the exhibition contest at Progressive Field that July while taking home the game’s Most Valuable Player honors, the first by an Indians player since Sandy Alomar Jr. also did it in a home contest in 1997. Bieber finished the year with a 15-8 record in 34 games, posting a 3.28 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with 259 strikeouts in 214 1/3 innings of work. He led the league with 1.7 walks per nine innings and led all of baseball with three complete games and two shutouts.
Jordan Luplow played the hero on Wednesday, giving the Cleveland Indians their fourth consecutive win and their second straight walk-off victory in a 3-2 final over the Chicago White Sox.
With a history of mashing against the White Sox, Luplow stepped to the dish against Chicago left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied, 2-2. After a grounder to short by pinch-hitter Delino DeShields, Gonzalez fell behind 3-0 to Luplow, who had struck out in each of his first three at bats on the night. The next offering to the Tribe outfielder was a meatball down the middle and Luplow mashed it onto the Home Run Porch with a no-doubt-about-it walk-off shot, giving the Indians the 3-2 win.
Seven of Luplow’s 17 homers with the Indians in the last two seasons have come against the White Sox. It was his first career walk-off homer.
Seven games. Seven days. And just like that, the 2020 regular season will be over and the 2020 Major League Baseball playoff bracket madness will begin.
The Indians (29-24) have not punched their ticket to the postseason, but barring something horrific happening over the next week, it is almost a foregone conclusion. That said, it may seem highly unlikely given the way that the last few weeks have gone, but the Indians still could catch the White Sox (34-19) in the American League Central, although that has hardly been a topic of conversation over much of September given the inconsistent play of the Clevelanders. The Indians, after taking three of four from the Tigers in Detroit over the weekend, enter the four-game weekday set with the White Sox trailing by five games. While that task may be too steep a hill to climb in a week, the Indians could still catch up with the second place Minnesota Twins, which holds a three-game lead over the Tribe with five games left on its schedule.
The Indians come into the series with a magic number of two to ensure a playoff spot, with that number reduced at present by any combination of Cleveland victories and Seattle defeats.
The Indians (27-23) ended an eight-game losing skid by beating up on the Tigers (21-28), something that the team has made an enjoyable habit out of over the last couple of years. Now 5-2 against the Tigers in 2020, the Indians have three more left to play against their rebuilding divisional foe over the weekend.
This is a big weekend for the Cleveland Indians. With a chance to face a team that they have had good luck with over the last couple of years, it may be just what the doctor ordered to cure all that ails the team’s struggles and depressed disposition.
The Indians (26-23), as you likely know by now, have lost eight straight contests during series with the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, and Chicago Cubs. Losses against a young Royals team was a bad look and the team missed some big opportunities to gain some ground in what once was a tightly contested American League Central during their series with the Twins. The Indians lost both games to the Cubs in walk-off fashion while showing some glimmers of hope that they would emerge from this losing skid before the end of the season. Those losses dropped them six games in back of the first place Chicago White Sox.
New lineup, same results for the Tribe on a soggy night from Minneapolis on Friday night as the Twins shut down the Cleveland Indians in a 3-1 final.
With Francisco Lindor hitting out of the leadoff spot and Cesar Hernandez hitting in the two-hole in interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr.’s lineup, the new look presented the same old results as the Indians failed to do much of anything against Kenta Maeda, Sergio Romo, and Taylor Rogers. Just like Thursday night’s game against the Kansas City Royals, the Indians managed just one last minute scratch of the scoreboard, with the offense providing much too little, too late to catch their Minnesotan opponents.