After finding their bats on Thursday night, the Cleveland Indians will hope to keep the offense alive in a three-game series in Chicago this weekend against the rival and upstart White Sox.
The Indians (8-6) got themselves back on track after a tough four-game series in Minnesota resulted in a 1-3 record and an absolute absence of offense. After dropping their series opener with the Reds on Monday, the Indians won each of the final three games of the series, using a pair of shutouts and a massive outburst from the bats to rack up 13 runs in the series finale on Thursday night.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before – the Cleveland Indians got a quality start, little run support, and fell in a 3-2 final to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
If that gave you a bit of déjà vu here in the 2020 Major League Baseball season, you’re not alone. There were, however, a few differences in the tale of the tape this time around – the opponent was different, the game was delayed two hours and two minutes at the outset by rain, and for the first time this season, the Indians blew a lead in order to find themselves on the short end of the stick.
With rains falling heavily in northeast Ohio and scattered thunderstorms forecast for the Cincinnati area throughout the day on Monday, the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds will be hoping to avoid any doubleheader silliness to open their four-game series split between the two cities this week.
The Indians (5-5) will be the road team first, heading to the Queen City for Monday and Tuesday games at Great American Ball Park. The club has not had the best of weeks and is struggling mightily at the plate, squandering some consistent quality start pitching unlike anything seen in quite some time. Through ten games, the Indians starting rotation has fired nine quality starts, but the offense has mustered just 26 total runs of offense in those games, leading to the subpar overall record through the first sixth of the shortened season schedule.
The Chicago White Sox avoided a costly series sweep in Cleveland on Wednesday, rallying for four runs in the ninth inning against Indians closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber for a 4-0 win in an outcome contrary to the story through the first eight innings of the day.
Well this is just cruel and unfair.
Three games into the 2020 season, when fans had just added baseball back into their TV viewing and radio listening routines, the Indians have suffered their first uncontrollable setback of the campaign. The series opener between Cleveland and the visiting Chicago White Sox was postponed by the rain that had affected the region for much of the afternoon.
Game one of the series has been rescheduled for 3:30 PM ET on Tuesday afternoon as part of a traditional doubleheader.
Baseball in Cleveland returned without a glitch over the weekend, as the Indians successfully hosted the Kansas City Royals and took two of three from the visiting club to continue a strong reign of dominance over their rebuilding divisional rival in contests from Progressive Field.
The task will be more difficult for the Tribe this week, as the rebuilt and more balanced Chicago White Sox will come to town for three evening affairs to close out the Indians’ season-opening six-game homestand.
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 – 65 days
How convenient for the sake of our countdown that the Indians’ most recent player to wear the number 65, Zach Plesac, celebrates his 25th birthday 65 days from the first pitches of the 2020 Major League Baseball regular season schedule (the young hurler has since switched his number to 34 for the coming year).
With their backs against the wall this week, the Indians brought little to the plate and little relief. Friday’s 8-2 loss to the Washington Nationals, coupled with a 6-2 win by Tampa Bay in Toronto, officially eliminated Cleveland from the 2019 postseason.
The end results mirrored those of recent days after the Indians dropped two of three to the Chicago White Sox earlier in the week in must-win situations. The Tribe was in the game briefly, but a disastrous five-run sixth inning by the Cleveland bullpen ended the team’s playoff hopes with one messy frame.
The Indians gave up a 4-1 lead in the middle innings as the Philadelphia Phillies used eight unanswered runs to defeat Cleveland by a 9-4 count on Saturday night.
With every win valuable down the stretch for the playoff contending Tribe, it was a tough blow to the team’s chances of October baseball on Saturday night. An early three-run lead went for naught as the pitching staff could not protect the advantage while the offense disappeared after putting up a four-spot in the first two frames. A loss by the Minnesota Twins kept the Indians (91-64) within four games in the American League Central, but a two-run home run in extras by the Tampa Bay Rays gave them a walk-off win over Boston and a full game lead over the Indians for the second AL Wild Card spot.
Zach Plesac quieted any concerns that he was running out of gas late in the season as he fired a complete game four-hit shutout in an 8-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
The Indians supplied Plesac with a half dozen runs of support over the first three innings, but the rookie right-hander needed just one of those runs to shut down the Angels in the middle game of three for the Indians in Anaheim. Making his 19th career start, Plesac went the distance to move the Indians to 85-61 on the year, five games in back of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central.
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.
While things have not been going so great for All-Star closer Brad Hand the last couple of days, the same cannot be said about his Midsummer Classic and Cleveland teammate Carlos Santana, as the Indians first baseman just cleared the 19-foot wall in left-center field to start the bottom of the ninth to give the Tribe a 6-5 walk-off win over the Boston Red Sox.
The Indians held a 5-1 lead after three innings against Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, but Boston chipped into that advantage with a pair of runs in the fourth, one in the seventh, and a painful fifth run in the top of the ninth as Hand blew a save for the second straight day. As was the case on Sunday afternoon in the Indians’ 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins, Santana picked up his AL and Indians roster member by hitting a timely home run as Cleveland celebrated his milestone blast with a well-deserved on-field gathering at home plate.