Cleveland Indians baseball is back!
Opening Day for Cleveland- and the other 29 MLB teams- was last Thursday.
Terry Francona’s seventh season as the Tribe manager got underway in Minneapolis, in the form of dropping two of its first three games.
Even with losing two of three games to start the season, there were some positives to take away from Target Field.
Starting Pitching Looked like its Old Self
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber got the ball to start the season. He went seven innings while giving up four hits, two runs, and striking out five.
Kluber in command the whole game, until the seventh inning where he gave up a two run double, which ended up being the game’s only two runs.
He did not give up a baserunner until the bottom of the fifth and did not allow a hit until the bottom of the sixth.
One-upping Kluber was Trevor Bauer. He matched Kluber’s seven innings pitched, but allowed just one run and struck out nine.
It showed that Bauer worked on a few pitches this offseason, most notably his changeup. It’s a nice compliment to his upper-90s fastball and looping curveball; just another pitch he can go to when he needs a strike.
Offense Was Not Much Help
The offense mustered two hits and no runs on Opening Day.
After an off day, Cleveland picked up its first win in 2019 with a 2-1 win, while getting four hits. (The first run was scored via a Hanley Ramirez homerun to the second deck.)
And to wrap up the first series, the Indians lost 9-3. The bats racked up six hits.
Four runs on 12 hits in three games.
That is not going to win many games for any major league team, let alone this year’s Cleveland Indians ball club. At least this early in the season with all the injuries and new guys.
Tyler Naquin, who started in right field the first two games, went 0-7 with six strikeouts to start the season. Leonys Martin went 1-9 in the series. Jose Ramirez went 1-11. Jake Bauers and Roberto Perez went a combined 1-16.
Help is going to be needed. For the first few weeks of the season.
Jason Kipnis’ return should help that, but the time table for his return to the diamond is unclear. Francisco Lindor, meanwhile, is getting a second opinion on his sprained ankle and may be out longer than expected.
New Guys Helping Out
With the offense struggling as a collective group, two names did their best to contribute.
Carlos Santana was the most productive hitter in the lineup. Leaving Minnesota, his batting average was at .500, getting five hits in 10 at bats. He also walked once, drove in three, and did not strikeout while scoring a run.
One of his five hits went for a double, his first extra base hit in 2019.
In his return to Cleveland, many expect him to be that third guy in the lineup behind Ramirez and Lindor. He has the power and patience at the plate to do that.
The other is Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez was cut by the Boston Red Sox last May and is back on a major league roster.
His first hit of the season was a solo home run to the second deck in left field.
.@HanleyRamirez is back and he can still crush.
— #Statcast (@statcast) March 30, 2019
That solo shot was the Indians first run of the season.
The three-time All-Star has a lifetime .487 slugging percentage and says that he can still hit home runs.
Cleveland is going to need him to do that the rest of the way.