A ninth inning grand slam by Francisco Lindor off of closer Sam Dyson capped a five-run frame as the Cleveland Indians stunned the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, 9-6, to complete the three-game season opening sweep over the reigning AL West champs.
As if the grand slam was not a special moment for the face of the Indians’ franchise, it was part of a three-hit, two-homer game for the young shortstop, who more than made up for a defensive miscue in the fifth inning that gave the Rangers a three-run inning and a 5-3 lead at the time.
The late Cleveland comeback was the second time this week that the team has stung Texas’ closer Dyson with a big loss. The Indians rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth against him on Monday in a 5-5 tie in the season opener and chased him early from the contest. He came in with a safer 6-4 lead on Wednesday, but it appears as though no lead is safe when facing the potent Indians lineup.
The Cleveland Indians used seven unanswered runs to overcome an early four-run deficit and defeat the Texas Rangers, 8-5, from Globe Life Park in Arlington in the 2017 regular season opener on Monday night.
In a matchup of staff aces, Yu Darvish and Corey Kluber took to the bump and showed that there was still some spring rust to knock off. Kluber worked out of a jam in the first inning after walking Carlos Gomez to start the game. He was caught stealing before a groundout by Shin-Soo Choo and a Nomar Mazara two-out double was wasted on a strikeout by Mike Napoli.
The Rangers would avoid run production issues to put up their first run of the season with the first batter of the second inning. Rougned Odor worked the count full before sending a slider over the fence for a solo home run to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
With just a matter of days until the Cleveland Indians open up their American League pennant defense, the final roster decisions have been made as the team announced on Thursday that prospect Yandy Diaz and veteran utility man Michael Martinez will be on the club’s Opening Day roster to start the 2017 season. It follows Wednesday’s news that outfielder Abraham Almonte will open the year with the Tribe with right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall set to land on the 10-day disabled list while dealing with a sprained shoulder.
The World Baseball Classic has deprived Major League spring training camps of countless players, but life carries on as the 30 teams prepare for the quickly approaching regular season slate of games.
The Indians, down eleven players from their organization, have continued on without some of the bigger names from their roster, including Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana, and Andrew Miller. Despite the vacancies, the show must go on and the Tribe has put together a good stretch of play with their depleted roster, winning three straight over the weekend and four of their last five contests overall.
But with the good, generally comes the bad, and there was plenty of both over the course of the week.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Friday afternoon that the guest list for Spring Training at their Goodyear, Arizona, complex beginning in February has grown by eight.
The Tribe will welcome minor league pitchers Josh Martin and Tyler Olson, infielders Nellie Rodriguez, Ronny Rodriguez, and Eric Stamets, outfielders Greg Allen and Bradley Zimmer, and utility man Yandy Diaz to their spring camp on non-roster invites.
The eight will audition for jobs with the Indians while getting a good opportunity to warm up for the 2017 season against other Major League caliber competition.
While the focus right now may be on the Cleveland Indians’ Major League roster, things are going well throughout the Tribe’s farm system as well.
The importance on drafting strong and developing stronger is no more apparent than at the Major League level for the Indians. The current playoff roster is well-balanced between guys drafted/signed internationally and developed solely by the club (Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Cody Allen to name a few), others acquired via trades and developed on the farm (Corey Kluber, Carlos Santana, and other absentee names like Carlos Carrasco, Michael Brantley, and Yan Gomes), and other veterans still who were added via big trades or free agent moves (Andrew Miller, Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, and Coco Crisp).
The names that compose the roster now all worked their way up through the minor league system, whether in the Indians organization or elsewhere. The names of the future are doing the same and some standout performers were recognized this week when MILB.com announced its picks for Cleveland’s organizational All-Stars.
Baseball America released its minor league All-Star teams across all minor league levels on Monday and four prospects from the Cleveland Indians farm system claimed spots on the annual rosters.
The biggest winner was 19-year-old right-hander Triston McKenzie, who was not only named as one of the five starting pitchers selected to the roster, but was announced as the Baseball America Short-Season Pitcher of the Year for his 4-3 record in nine starts while with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Despite finishing the regular season 13 games below the .500 mark, the Gwinnett Braves have proven that anything can happen if you can get to the playoffs. The Columbus Clippers, 82-62 in the regular season, were victims of a Braves club on a mission as they were eliminated from the postseason with a 5-4 loss on Saturday night.
The Clippers season came to an end after losing three of four games in the International League semifinals. The Braves will now advance to the Governors’ Cup Finals against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which swept Lehigh Valley in three games.
Columbus actually held a 3-0 lead, but gave up four runs in the middle innings. They were able to tie it up late, but Gwinnett responded with the go-ahead run in their final at bats.
A seventh inning grand slam by top prospect Bradley Zimmer broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh and the Clippers held on as Columbus defeated the Gwinnett Braves, 6-4, on Thursday night from Huntington Park.
Gwinnett’s Rob Wooten took over for starter Aaron Blair in the bottom of the seventh and promptly walked Yandy Diaz. A single by Guillermo Quiroz put Diaz into scoring position, but Giovanny Urshela lined out to center and Jesus Aguilar struck out. Michael Choice walked, loading the bases for the young Clippers outfielder, who delivered the clutch two-out bases-clearing bomb to right to give Columbus a 6-2 lead.
A two-run homer in the top of the eighth by Reid Brignac broke a 2-2 tie as the Gwinnett Braves held off a Columbus rally in the bottom of the ninth and the Clippers fell in the International League semi-final opener, 6-5, at Huntington Park.
The Braves’ Triple-A affiliate and IL South champions took a 2-0 lead in the second against Columbus starter Adam Plutko. Blake Lalli singled with one out and scored on a two-out, two-run homer from Daniel Castro to give the Braves the lead.
It’s playoff time in the minor leagues and three Indians affiliates will begin their chases for postseason crowns on Wednesday night.
The Triple-A Columbus Clippers, Double-A Akron RubberDucks, and High-A Lynchburg Hillcats all punched tickets in their respective leagues behind solid 2016 seasons. The Clippers won the International League’s West Division with an eleven-game lead at year’s end. The RubberDucks clinched a playoff berth on Sunday and won the Western Division title outright on Monday. The Hillcats won the Carolina League Northern Division first-half crown and tied the Potomac Nationals for the division’s second-half title with a 39-31 finish.
The team that helped the Columbus Clippers claim the International League West Division crown will not be the same team that tries to advance to the Governors Cup later in the month. The September call-ups have deprived the Clippers of several weapons from their bullpen and several more regular contributors from their every day lineup.
With the division already locked up, the Clippers (80-61) have gone on a bit of a losing skid, dropping three straight, four of their last five, and six of their last eight. Despite the tough stretch with the roster in a state of flux, their lead over Indianapolis and Louisville sits at eleven games heading into action over the weekend. They will wrap up their season with one more at home against Toledo before heading to the northwest corner of the state for two more against the Mud Hens before the playoffs start on Wednesday. In addition to the Clippers, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in the North Division have locked up playoffs spots, with the South Division completely up for grabs between four teams who will all finish with records below .500.
In other Clippers news and notes from the Ohio state capital: