Even though the Indians were formally eliminated from postseason contention almost a week ago, they managed to end the season on a high note with a sweep of the Red Sox on Sunday. The series was dominated by solid pitching – from Josh Tomlin on Friday night, Corey Kluber on Saturday night, and Danny Salazar this afternoon. Salazar gave up just 1 ER on 4 hits in 5.1 IP, and the offense did just enough early in the game to get the win.
The Indians scored their first run on a Roberto Perez double and a Giovanny Urshela single in the second inning; a Michael Martinez double, Lonnie Chisenhall single, Jesus Aguilar single, and an error by Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello eventually led to the other two runs in the third inning.
There was a point earlier this year where I just wanted the season to end, to put fans out of their misery. But after the Indians dumped off their dead weight and started to play well again, they were much more enjoyable to watch. At the end of today’s game, I’m actually quite sad that we won’t get to see the Indians again until pitchers and catchers report in February. The montage of great moments after the broadcast today proved that there were good times this year, even if most of them did come in August and September. Their constant flirtations with the .500 mark finally ended in an over-.500 season (just barely). That means the Indians have managed a winning season in each of Terry Francona’s three years in Cleveland.
Even though the season is over, this is one point of business still left to be addressed – whether or not Francisco Lindor should win the Rookie of the Year. I’ll have more to say about this in the coming days, but let me say that I think yes…he should probably win the AL ROY.
It’s not immediately clear how different the team will look when they take the field on April 4 against the Red Sox. I doubt they’ll make any big splashes on the free agent market (I think the Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn deals will leave them a bit gun shy) but they could make a few trades this winter. There are theories they could trade some of their pitching for offensive pieces, although I’d really like to see them keep Carlos Carrasco.
There are some reasons for optimism in 2016 though – a full season of Francisco Lindor, and strong starting pitching. They’ve seen greatly improved defense over the second half of the season, and that will hopefully continue into next season. A healthy Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, and Jason Kipnis could go a long way next year as well.
I wish I could get at least one more game from the Indians, particularly an AL wild card game. However, I’m grateful that they managed to sweep a hot Red Sox team to end the 2015 season on a high note.