The Cleveland Indians had some rough stretches during the 2019 season. Nothing was more bizarre than the two blowout losses in Baltimore.
When the Cleveland Indians finish with a winning record and still miss the playoffs it is easy for fans to go back and pick out games that should have been won. A blown save here, a costly error there. Wins left on the table that come back to the haunt the team at the end of the season.
There were plenty of those games in 2019. Yet two of them did not feature a blown save or an error that made the difference. These two had to be the most shocking and also the most depressing of the season.
I am talking about the back-to-back 13-0 losses to the Baltimore Orioles. The second 13-0 contest improved the Orioles’ record to 24-58. The Indians only fell to 44-38, but morale was low.
June was an odd month in general for the Indians. The team dropped to 29-30 on June 2 but improved to 44-36 before heading to Baltimore for three games at the end of the month. A sweep would have been nice, though it wasn’t necessary. Even taking two of three and looking decent in a loss was acceptable because it’s baseball. The terrible teams still win sometimes.
What ended up happening was a total disaster.
The first loss saw the Orioles go up 8-0 after two innings. The starting pitcher for the Indians? Mike Clevinger. He was on the hook for seven runs and Tyler Olson picked up the eighth. It was one of those games you just wanted to be over as soon as the Orioles started scoring.
The Indians offense got out-hit 16-6 and Adam Plutko came in late to finish things up, only to give up five more runs. At that point he was just eating up innings. But that’s fine, 13-0. A total meltdown that will occasionally happen, right? On to the next day.
Zach Plesac got the start for the Indians and only gave up one run through three innings. Not bad. Then the Orioles put up a six-spot in the fourth. They then proceeded to score two runs in each of the next three innings to get the total back up to 13 for the second day in a row. And once again, the Indians got whooped on offense. This time the hits were 13-5 in favor of the Orioles.
This was a weekend series that was luckily on the road in Baltimore. All of this going down at Progressive Field may have broken even the most diehard of fans.
The Indians did come back on Sunday and salvage some dignity with a 2-0 victory. Shane Bieber had seen enough of the nonsense and the offense was able to scrape across a few runs against a 24-58 Orioles squad destined for last place once again.
Five straight wins followed for the Indians and then came the All-Star break. On paper, six straight wins heading into the break was great. The problem was that the two 13-0 losses to the Orioles signaled that this team may not be a true World Series contender.
The offense had a habit of disappearing at times, even against the worst of the worst in the league, and the pitching staff could only bail them out so many times before the pitchers needed help from the offense.
The two blowout losses were not the ultimate difference in the final standings. The Indians finished eight behind the Minnesota Twins in the division and three behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
But maybe the Indians aren’t scrambling in the final week of the season if they take even one of those two games in Baltimore. Who knows?
I did not bring this series up again to bum everyone out. I just remembered the insanity of that weekend and had to share my own madness here on a cold day in Cleveland.