The Cleveland Indians went into a weekend series against the Detroit Tigers coming off of a dominant set against the Chicago White Sox. The Indians, entering Friday, were 7-3 against the Tigers, but had two of their rookies slated to pitch. Shane Bieber, Trevor Bauer, and Adam Plutko took the mound over the weekend and had great success against a Tigers lineup that is desperately missing Miguel Cabrera, who is out for the year with a ruptured left bicep.
Bieber looks like a seasoned veteran
Friday night, highly touted pitching prospect Shane Bieber took the hill for the Indians and he looked like an ace for a majority of the game. Bieber threw a seven-inning shutout while striking out nine and walking just one. Offensively, the Indians were dominant scoring in five of the eight innings they came to the plate. That included a grand slam from Yonder Alonso, his second of the season. Shane Bieber is now 2-0 in three starts with a 2.45 ERA. He is posting a 4% walk rate, compared to a 29% strikeout rate through the first 18 innings of his career. He should hold a spot in the rotation as long as he continues to pitch the way he has.
Bauer struggles early but keeps damage to a minimum in front of a sell-out crowd.
The kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and attendance is going up for the Indians. Saturday was the second sell-out of the year, drawing over 90,000 on the weekend. As fans were settling into their seats, Trevor Bauer struggled with command but allowed just one run in the first inning. Despite a high pitch, Bauer worked 6.1 innings, striking out 11 hitters. The run he gave up in the first was the only one he allowed. The Tribe’s offense wasn’t as dominant as the night before, but they managed to get four runs on the board. Cody Allen closed the game and recorded his 16thsave of the season.
Indians complete the sweep behind good pitching and a hot offense.
The bats came alive again for the Tribe, as they closed out their homestand on Sunday. Adam Plutko was on the hill for the Indians and was solid. He logged six innings of work and gave up just two runs. Meanwhile, besides Brandon Guyer, the Indians offense was scorching hot. Guyer was the only starter in the Indians lineup without a hit and Yonder Alonso was the only starter without a multi-hit game. The top three guys in the Indians lineup, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, and Jose Ramírez, all had three hits. Edwin Encarnacion hit the second grand slam of the weekend for an Indians player in the bottom of the eighth and put the game completely out of reach.
The Indians are playing their best baseball right now and have pulled away in the AL Central. It would take an epic collapse for the Tribe to fail to win the weakest division in baseball. The focus shifts to gaining ground in the home field advantage race for the playoffs. The Indians are still well behind the Astros and the Yankees for the first and second spots in the A.L.
Next up for the Indians, is an interleague series in St. Louis against the Cardinals. The Red Birds are 40-36 on the year and sit 4.5 games back of the N.L. Central leading Milwaukee Brewers.