Off on the Right Foot, Tribe takes Opening Series from Astros

The Indians season has started, so I’d like to welcome you to the 2015 edition of Indians Series Recap.  This article series is meant to help you catch up on anything you missed during the Indians latest series.

Series Result: Indians win their opening series over the Astros 2-1.

Game Results:
Game 1: Houston 2, Cleveland 0
Game 2: Cleveland 2, Houston 0
Game 3: Cleveland 5, Houston 1

Indians MVP
The Starting Pitching
In the series – Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer combined to pitch 19.2 innings, allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits, while striking out 28 batters.  This is the rotation that got rave reviews all winter, and one that will be tough to beat for the remaining 159 games.

Indians LVP
Opening Day Offense
Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel looked like the pitcher coming off a 2014 Cy Young season, as he pitched a three hit shut out on Opening Day.

Game 1: Kluber dominates, but offense goes quiet.
When Sports Illustrated picks you to win the World Series that can mean one of two things.  Either you’re a really good team and it’s a fair assessment, or you’re the Cleveland Indians and are now guaranteed a last place finish (a la 1986).  Either way, the 2015 Cleveland Indians were picked by Sports Illustrated to break the Cleveland Curse.  The Indians opened their much-hyped season in Houston, against an Astros team that won 70 games in 2015, but added some nice pieces on the off-season.  Dallas Keuchel took the mound for the Astros, and set the Indians lineup down 1-2-3 in the top of the 1st.

The Indians sent 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to the mound.  Fresh off signing a 5-year, $38.5 million contract extension, Kluber came out and fired 5.2 innings of no-hit ball before the 2014 batting champ Jose Altuve looped a single into center.  Emerging power hitter George Springer laced a single to left, which scored Altuve, and gave the Astros a 1-0 lead.  Turns out that’s all Kuechel and the Astros would need.  Kuechel looked more the part of the Cy Young winner, as he went 7 innings allowing just 3 hits and 0 runs, while striking out 4.

As good Kuechel was, Corey Kluber was almost as good, but was the tough luck loser.  Kluber went on to pitch 7.1 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7.  The Astros got that all important insurance run in the bottom of the 8th when Jake Marisnick hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Jed Lowrie and giving the Astros a 2-0 lead.  Newly signing closer Luke Gregerson set the Tribe down in order in the 9th, as the Astros would win by a final of 2-0.  And overreaction Monday/Tuesday began.

Game 2: Carrasco proves his worth in Indians first win.
The second game of the series lost a little luster for Tribe fans, after the offense was seemingly still in Arizona on Opening Day.  Nonetheless, the Indians continued their disappointing season (sarcasm people), sending newly extended Carlos Carrasco on the mound to face off against the soft-tossing Scott Feldman of the Astros.  For the first 3 innings, it looked like we would get a repeat of game 1, as both teams put zeros on the board.

Enter Carlos Santana, who, with one out in the 4th inning gave the Indians their first run of the season when he smashed a 3-2 pitch deep to right field.  That’s all Carlos Carrasco would need, as he showed everyone out there why he deserved that 4-year, $22 million contract.  His numbers: 6.1 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, and 10 strikeouts.  Carrasco should silence his doubters with a few more outings like this one.  As a prelude to things to come, Nick Hagadone entered the game after Carrasco was taken out, and gave up a hit and walked a batter, before he was then taken out.

The bullpen was able to finish off the Astros, as the trio of Mark Rzepczynski, Bryan Shaw, and Cody Allen did not allow a hit. They struck out 3, as the Indians would go on to win by a score of 2-0.  The second run the Indians scored was courtesy of a Mike Aviles solo shot in the top of the 8th. Aviles wasn’t even slated to play on this day, but Michael Brantley was facing some back soreness.  Brantley is expected to return for the Home Opener.

Game 3: Near no-hitter propels Indians to series win.
The Indians offense got things going right way in this one, as Michael Bourn led off the game with a double, welcoming Astros pitcher Asher Wojciechowski (say that 3 times fast) to the Major Leagues. Jose Ramirez followed with a bunt single, and Jason Kipnis hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Bourn, giving the Tribe the early 1-0 lead.  In the 2nd inning, Yan Gomes led off with a double.  Two batters later, Roberto Perez singled Gomes home.  Gomes showed off his Kyrie Irving type moves, as the ball beat him to the plate by ten feet, but Gomes shuffled around to avoid the tag, and give the Tribe a 2-0 lead.

The Indians offense was back at it in the 4th inning, when Roberto Perez walloped a ball 416 feet to increase the lead to 3-0. The Rule of One (the Indians scored 5 runs, all in different innings) continued in the top of 5th, when Jose Ramirez flashed some power leading off the inning with a solo smash to right, giving the Indians a 4-0 lead. A fielder’s choice in the 7th inning gave the Indians their fifth run.

Trevor Bauer took the mound for the Indians.  Bauer was all over the place, issuing 5 walks and throwing 110 pitches through 6 innings.  It certainly wasn’t his greatest outing.  Oh wait, yes it was!  Bauer struck out 11 batters (a career high) and didn’t allow a hit through 6 innings.  Bauer turned it over to the bullpen in the 7th: Kyle Crockett and Scott Atchison held up their part of the deal, as the Indians had a combined no-hitter through 8 innings.

Instead of relying on Bryan Shaw or Cody Allen to give the Indians their first no-hitter since 1981, Terry Francona called upon Nick Hagadone.  Hagadone struck out Chris Carter to start the inning, then gave up a home run to Jed Lowrie. Gone was the no-hitter, along with the shutout.  Hagadone would eventually get the last two outs, as the Astros were held to 1 run on 1 hit, however they did walk 7 times.  But, at this point I’m just nitpicking.  The Indians won their opening series: be happy Cleveland fans!

Up Next: The Indians get ready for a three game series against the reigning AL Central champs, the Detroit Tigers.  Did I mention Friday’s game will be the Home Opener?

— Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)

AP Photo/Patric Schneider

 

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