Cleveland Indians: 3 takeaways from Tuesday’s 8-6 loss to the Rangers

(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Despite a theatrical ninth-inning grand slam by Michael Brantley, the Cleveland Indians dropped Tuesday’s matchup to the Texas Rangers, 8-6. With two outs, Brantley sent the game to extra innings, but back-to-back Ranger home runs in the 12th put the visitors up for good.

What a tough one to lose. The offense had been stagnant all night, with a seventh inning RBI double by Jason Kipnis representing the only meaningful offense for the Tribe. Then Brantley came up big.

Starter Mike Clevenger pitched a quality game, striking out a season-high seven batters in 6.2 innings. The Cleveland bullpen was once again suspect, allowing five runs after Clevenger was pulled. The Indians will now get behind Corey Kluber to finish out the series on Wednesday.

Brantley looking great

Just when the game looked to be over, Michael Brantley came up with the Indians biggest hit of the young season. As of yet, he has not shown any signs of being bothered by the injuries that limited him to just 101 games between 2016 and 2017.

The front office chose to pick up his $12 million option for the season in hopes that he could return to 2014 form, when he finished third in the MVP voting. He has rewarded their faith thus far.

Add in the fact that Brantley is playing for a new contract, which surely serves as a source of extra inspiration. He’s easily been the Indians most consistent hitter in 2018, leading the team with a .333 average. His 14 runs batted in are good for third behind Yonder Alonso (21) and Jose Ramirez (16).

Bullpen issues

These two words put together probably seem like foreign language to Indians fans. The bullpen has been a staple for the Cleveland Indians over the past several years. This season’s squad may not have that luxury this year.

Despite recording the save on Monday, recently promoted Jeff Beliveau came on tonight and gave up a double and home run before being removed. Nick Goody‘s ERA is now 5.73 after giving two runs in Tuesday’s loss. Zach McCallister has now allowed 11 runs in just 9.2 innings pitched, while fellow relievers Tyler Olson and Dan Otero each sport run averages over 4.6.

New addition Matt Belisle has not performed well either. Until Andrew Miller can get healthy, the burden will fall to Cody Allen to close out tough games . It’s still early, but this hasn’t been the kind of play from the bullpen that fans are accustomed to.

Weak division has been a huge help

With the loss, the Tribe falls to 15-13, but remain in first place. The 15 wins are the least among baseball’s six division leading teams. The Tigers are second in the central with a record of 12-16, while the Twins, White Sox, and Royals bottom it out. These three teams each have less than ten wins, the most of any division.

With all of the offensive struggles, the Indians are fortunate to enter May in first place. It should make fans feel a little more secure while the lineup (hopefully) works out the kinks.

Next: Remembering big April wins

In the meantime, the division will hopefully stay sub-par and the Cleveland Indians won’t be punished for the slow start.