Despite posting a 25-24 record this season, 2019 really hasn't been the Cleveland Indians year.
Because of injuries, inconsistency and their own lack of urgency during the offseason, the Indians have looked much closer to average than a team hoping to win its fourth straight AL Central title.
Thursday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays did nothing to change that perception. In fact, one painful play only further highlighted Cleveland’s malaise.
Indians outfielders Leonys Martin and Oscar Mercado experienced a malfunction at the junction while attempting to chase down Kevin Kiermaier's flyball in the sixth inning. The result of which led to a painful collision and allowed Kiermaier to race around the bases with a game-breaking three-run inside-the-park home run.
Leonys Martin and Oscar Mercado's collision in the outfield leads to a @KKiermaier39 3-run inside-the-park HR. Fortunately, Martin and Mercado are able to get on their feet and play on.#RaysUp 6#RallyTogether 0 pic.twitter.com/uWoZ1RqhlF— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) May 23, 2019
It was, in a word, disastrous.
The other word Indians fans are using is indicative, as in this one painful play pretty much sums all that has looked off or gone wrong for the club on the field in 2019.
Fortunately, as bad as it looked, Mercado only suffered a hip contusion. He’ll be sore for a few days, but likely won’t be joining Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger and Bradley Zimmer on the injured list.
Unfortunately for the Indians, their overall situation is a bit more concerning. Thursday’s 7-2 loss to the Rays runs their losing streak to four games. Worse yet, the surprising Minnesota Twins kept rolling, racking up eight more home runs in a 16-7 win against the Los Angeles Angels.
That means the Twins will enter Memorial Day weekend with an MLB-best 33 wins, while the Indians fall to eight games back in the division.
It’s not an insurmountable deficit with two-thirds of the season remaining. But that’s also contingent on the Indians raising their level of play. If anything, Thursday’s loss was a painful reminder of just how far they have to go.
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