On the day the Cavaliers celebrated Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years, another Cleveland team continued to show that they might be pretty special themselves.
The Cleveland Indians came into tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays looking to finish a perfect 6-0 on their home stand before heading out for ten more games on the road. On the mound for the Tribe was Trevor Bauer, who has been pitching quite well of late. The Rays countered with right-hander Chris Archer as they attempted to halt a six-game losing streak.
Things went the Indians’ way early when Carlos Santana walked and Jason Kipnis promptly homered to center to put the Tribe on top. The Indians tacked on another run before the first inning was over when Jose Ramirez singled to center to score Francisco Lindor. They made it 4-0 in the fourth inning when Santana followed a Lonnie Chisenhall double with one of his own.
Meanwhile Trevor Bauer was absolutely on fire, allowing just one hit through his first six innings of work. The Rays finally got on the board in the top of the seventh inning when Brad Miller walked, moved to third when Logan Morrison doubled, and scored on an infield single by Corey Dickerson.
Unfortunately for the Rays, the Indians came right back in the bottom of the seventh. Tyler Naquin led off the inning with a double to center field. Santana continued his impressive night by driving home Naquin with a single to left center. Santana then stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice fly by Jason Kipnis, and scored on another sac fly, this time by Lindor. That was more than enough for Bauer, who finished of the Rays for his first complete game of the year as the Indians beat the Rays by a final score of 6-1 to finish their home stand a perfect 6-0.
Things I Noticed
Bauer was absolutely terrific tonight, allowing just three hits, one walk, and one run in nine innings of dominance. Over his last five starts, Bauer has allowed just eight runs over 38.2 innings, good for an ERA of 1.88 over that span. With a rotation of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Josh Tomlin, and Bauer, the Indians can be confident that they have a chance in every series they play.
Carlos Santana will likely never be the player many thought he would be during his time in the minors, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a huge asset to the Indians. Santana has a knack for helping an offense produce runs, and he’s done a great job when leading off this season. It really seems to be the spot for him.
The Indians completed their first-ever undefeated month at home (11-0), for months with at least eight home games.
— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) June 23, 2016
That is just amazing.
The Indians are 41-31 with a three-game lead in the Central Division and the second-best run differential in the American League. They’re on pace to win 94 games, which would be their highest win total since the 2007 season when they lost to Boston in the American League Championship Series. They have a terrific rotation, an underrated bullpen, and a surprisingly effective offense considering the absence of Michael Brantley. Every sign points to this team being the real deal, and capable of competing with—and beating—any team in Major League Baseball.
The Indians are off tomorrow and then begin a ten-game road trip on Friday against the Detroit Tigers. Sixteen games ago, when the Indians were about to play twenty of their next twenty-six games on the road, it seemed as if that stretch could make or break the team. With ten games left in that stretch, the Tribe is more than answering the call.