It was another disappointing week for the Cleveland Indians.
They returned home after going 3-6 on a nine-game gauntlet through the AL Central and came out of it just 4-10 against the division this season. But it wasn’t all bad for the Tribe, as the offense was able to hang 20 runs on the scoreboard in a series loss to the Detroit Tigers. Some of the Tribe’s key players were able to get themselves going at the plate — Michael Brantley returned to his MVP form; Brandon Moss clubbed two home runs; and Carlos Santana continues to get on base, sitting near the top of the league in walks again this season.
Not much is going right for the Indians as a team, but there have been a few bright spots. It’s only a matter of time before the Tribe gets back on track. Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after the third week of the season:
Apr 25, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians left fielder Michael Brantley (23) hits a single in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Back from early-season back pains, Michael Brantley regained his MVP form for the Tribe during the Indians’ nine-game road trip. Over the last seven days, Brantley has hit .458 with three doubles and four RBIs. While he is still without a home run in 2015, Brantley has driven the ball into the gaps this week and continues to put the ball in play for the Indians. Just as he was last season, Brantley has been at his best with runners in scoring position this year. He is 5-for-10 in such situations with five RBIs, and he’s hit .368 with two outs.
As well as Brantley has played over the last week, only Ryan Raburn has been better for the Indians. In just 10 at-bats over four games, Raburn has hit .600/.636/1.200 with a home run and four RBIs. After a down year in 2014, Raburn has returned to his 2013 form and absolutely tortured opposing southpaws. Raburn is batting .417 against lefties on the season, making him the perfect platoon guy out of the designated hitter spot. Francona has to continue to find at-bats for Raburn while he’s hot, but that will only get more difficult with the looming return of Nick Swisher.
Few pitchers in the league have been better than Trevor Bauer this season, so he is certainly deserving of a mention for his red-hot performance. Danny Salazar, though, has been a major bright spot for the Tribe since his call-up on April 18. After a rough spring, Cleveland sent Salazar to Triple-A Columbus to get himself straightened out — and it took just one start for that to happen. Salazar threw six innings of shutout baseball in his one appearance for the Clippers before convincing the Indians he was ready to join the big league club. Since then, Salazar has made two starts for the Tribe and allowed three earned runs over 13 innings. Salazar has 21 strikeouts during that time frame and, even better, has gotten enough support from his offense to pick up two wins in those outings.
Apr 25, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcherT.J. House
(58) pitches in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
At some point, T.J. House will make it off this list. Whether that’s because he pitches his way out of a funk or because he gets sent back to Columbus remains to be seen. In his lone start this week, House threw three innings and surrendered three runs against the Tigers. The most discouraging part of his performance this season, though, has been his inability to command his pitches. House walked four in a spot start on Saturday, filling in for Trevor Bauer (illness). He is 0-3 this season with a 12.60 ERA. He can’t possibly have too many more chances before the Indians turn to one of their two veterans — Shaun Marcum (2-0, 1.50 ERA) or Bruce Chen (2-1, 1.08 ERA) — for a rotation boost.
More from Away Back Gone
- Cleveland Guardians tantalizingly close to locking up AL Central tiebreakers
- Cleveland Guardians: Terry Francona becomes meme in profanity-laced ejection
- Say goodbye to defensive shifts and hello to bigger bases, pitch clock in 2023
- Cleveland Guardians: Shane Bieber second-fastest to 800 strikeouts in major-league history
- The next week will make or break the Cleveland Guardians’ season
It’s been almost four years since Michael Bourn saw his name penciled in at any position besides lead-off — and for good reason. Bourn was brought to Cleveland after hitting .274 with a .348 on-base percentage and 42 stolen bases with the Atlanta Braves. In his two-plus season with the Indians, Bourn has been anything but the dangerous lead-off man the Indians signed in 2013. But he’s never been this bad. Over five games this road trip, Bourn was just 2-for-20 with four strikeouts and a run scored. He was caught stealing in his only attempt and has seemingly lost all ability to drive the baseball with any sort of authority. Francona finally moved him out of the lead-off spot for Sunday’s game, so we’ll see if this experiment pays off for the Tribe. If not, it may be time for the Indians to cut their losses and start looking for another center fielder.
Only a smidgen better than Bourn this week, Jose Ramirez has looked incredibly over-matched in his first 15 games this season. He has just 10 hits in 51 at-bats and owns an OBP of .250. Over the last seven days, Ramirez went just 3-for-16 with all three hits being singles. Even worse, Ramirez was supposed to help stabilize the Tribe’s shaking defense even if he wasn’t effective offensively. Yet, he’s tallied three errors on the season and posted a team-worst .938 fielding percentage. He, too, has to pick up the pace if he intends to keep his job through May. Top prospect Francisco Lindor is heating up in Triple-A and looks ready to make a splash in the majors at any moment.