The Cleveland Indians put together another solid week of work and closed the gap in the AL Central, pulling within six games of the first place Minnesota Twins. They had an annoyingly difficult time getting back to .500 on the season, as they failed to do so on two separate occasions in this series against the Baltimore Orioles.
A struggling AL Central has allowed the Tribe to keep within arm’s reach of their division foes, even despite a horrid month of April. Cleveland will get another crack at Detroit this week and, should they take care of business against Seattle, the Tribe may have an opportunity to push themselves ahead of the third-place Tigers in a three-game set this weekend.
Let’s take a look at who’s hot and who’s not after the ninth week of the season:
Jun 4, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielderBrandon Moss
(44) runs the bases after hitting a two run home run in the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Expect Moss to be on the list in some way, shape or form most weeks during the season. He is the type of guy that is either red hot or ice cold and, this week, the Tribe’s veteran right fielder has been on fire. Hitting .286/.400/.667 over the last seven days, Moss has clubbed two home runs and added a team-high five RBIs in a big week for the Cleveland Indians. Thus far this season, Moss has been as good — if not better — than advertised. He leads the club with 10 round-trippers and is tied with Michael Brantley team lead in RBIs (33).
Kipnis, again, put together an outstanding week for the Tribe at home. His .407 batting average in Progressive Field is the best among qualified players in all of baseball. In six games this week, the Tribe’s second baseman hit .318/.444/.409. He clubbed two doubles while adding two RBIs and three stolen bases in another productive week to start the month of June. He jumped up a spot in the All-Star game voting this week, taking one more step toward claiming his rightful spot as a starter in this year’s All-Star Game.
It was only a matter of time before Gomes started hitting the ball again. After missing more than a month of the season with that knee injury he suffered against the Tigers just a couple weeks into the 2015 campaign, Gomes returned to the Indians lineup and struggled to get his legs back underneath him. He was visibly frustrated a couples times during the Royals series, but he did nothing but hit against the O’s this weekend. Gomes put together two consecutive multi-hit efforts and saw his average climb above .200 for the first time since the first game of the season. Gomes hit .300 this week with one double. It’s a great sign for an Indians offense that seems to be hitting its stride as the teams makes its first push toward the top of the division.
Jun 2, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Cleveland Indians third basemanLonnie Chisenhall
(8) connects for a double in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Cleveland won the game 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Chisenhall was enjoying an incredible offensive, hitting .369 with three home runs and 15 RBIs through the end of May. This season has been a remarkably different story, as the Tribe’s third baseman is hitting just .209/241/.345. This week, Chisenhall notched just four hits in 23 at-bats (.190 batting average) and fanned a team-high eight times. While his defense has been markedly improved this season (though he didn’t do his part to help the Tribe on Sunday), Chisenhall’s offensive performance has been absolutely atrocious — so much so, in fact, the Tribe elected to give their young third baseman some time in Triple-A while turning the hot corner over to Giovanny Urshela.
Like Chisenhall, Ramirez was on the wrong end up a roster move yesterday, as the Tribe sent their struggling middle infielder down to Triple-A in favor of Zach Walters. Ramirez continued to struggle mightily this week, going hitless in six at-bats on the week. He was progressively losing at-bats to Mike Aviles even before the move and he’s really shown no signs of improvement. He killed two different rallies on Saturday against the O’s and fans had begun to wonder how long manager Terry Francona would continue to run him out there. Now, the Tribe will look for production from Aviles, Walters and Urshela on the left side of the infield.
As good as the Indians bullpen has been this week, the one semi-weak link has been McAllister. He has made two appearances out of the pen, throwing 2.1 innings and allowing three earned runs. He has allowed the opponents to hit .400 while posting a 1.71 WHIP. McAllister has been very good for much of the season but, over his last seven appearances, the big right-hander has posted a 5.63 ERA in 8 innings pitched.