The Cleveland Indians are many things. Leaders of the American League Central Division, owners of the fourth-best run differential in all of baseball, and home to four current All-Stars if you count Andrew Miller (who made it as a Yankee). However, one thing that they are not at this moment, is a team playing winning baseball.
Coming into the rubber match of a three-game road series against the Yankees, the Indians were hoping for a series win after losing three of four to the Minnesota Twins last week. Taking the mound for the Tribe was Carlos Carrasco, who was looking to bounce back after a dreadful start against the Twins in which he lasted just three and two-thirds innings while allowing a season high eight earned runs.
The good news was that Carrasco was much better, allowing three runs on five hits over seven innings. The bad news was that it still wasn’t enough.
The Yankees took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Brett Gardner hit a triple to deep center that Tyler Naquin simply couldn’t keep up with. Jacoby Ellsbury then followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 in favor of New York.
In the second inning, a strange incident occurred in which Carrasco kept throwing over to first base, even after catcher Roberto Perez paid a visit to the mound. Finally, pitching coach Mickey Callaway came out and was able to straighten things out, as Carrasco struck out the next three batters to end the inning.
Carrasco seemed to be cruising until the fourth inning, when Didi Gregorius made it 2-0 Yankees with a solo home run to right field. The Yankees made it 3-0 in the fifth inning when Ellsbury walked and then scored on a double to left field by Mark Teixeira.
Meanwhile, the Indians struggled to get anything going against Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka. They finally scored in the top of the seventh inning when Rajai Davis led off with a double, advanced to second on a sacrifice fly by Naquin, and scored on a single by Perez (just his fifth hit of the season) to cut the Yankees’ lead to 3-1. Jose Ramirez then single-handedly got the Indians to within one run in the top of the eighth inning when he walked, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pi by Yankees catcher Austin Romine, and scored on a wild pitch by right-hander Dellin Betances.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, it was too little, too late. Betances struck out Naquin to end the eighth inning. Chris Gimenez started the top of the ninth with a single to left field, but Carlos Santana grounded into a double play and Jason Kipnis struck out swinging as the Yankees won by a final score of 3-2 to take the game and the series.
Baseball is a season of runs, and the Indians are on a bad one right now. They’ve won only two of their last seven games, and are just 13-17 since the end of their 14-game winning streak that now seems so long ago. The best news was that the Detroit Tigers fell to the Mets today, allowing the Indians to keep a two-game lead in the A.L. Central. If there’s any reason for hope with the Tribe, it’s that Carrasco and Corey Kluber have pitched well the last two games after the rotation was seemingly cursed during the previous five games. A tough two-game series against the Nationals in Washington awaits followed by a home series against the Angels. Hopefully, the Indians can start another run of winning baseball. They’ll need to if they want to hold off the Tigers.